With five starters back from a team that went 26-8 overall a season ago and won the VISAA Division III State Championship, the bar is certainly high for Williamsburg Christian basketball.
Competing this past weekend at the Jeff Jones ODU Team Camp, the Eagles soared high and won seven of eight games en route to capturing the title in the stiff Monarch Division on Sunday. WCA used a 17-0 run to erase an eight-point deficit in the Championship and topple Western Branch, 32-23. All the tourney games were 20 minutes of action.
"You've got to make plays defensively to win. They made it happen when we needed it," stated Williamsburg Head Basketball Coach Chris Brown. "We can always get buckets, but I tell them stops is where the games are won."
To get those stops, WCA leaned on its Class of 2018 guard trio of Cle'Von Greene, Ra'Shawn Cook and Da'Shawn Cook to trigger their comeback. Ra'Shawn finished with six of their eight steals and the Eagles capitalized at the other end by converting 61.1% of their field goal tries inside the three-point arc.
"Ra'Shawn gets after it defensively, agitates a lot. "We like to run and jump," Brown added. "Ra'Shawn gets after it defensively. [He] agitates a lot."
Western Branch, which won the Boo Williams Team Camp earlier in June, appeared poised for another trophy and doing so without its starting backcourt from their 6A State Tournament semifinal team in Kendall Bynum (attending Providence's elite camp) and BriQuan Harrell (competing during the weekend as the Bruins starting QB in football at the Lake Taylor Powerade 7 on 7).
The Bruins edged Kellam 16-15 in the the quarterfinals, thanks to Saiquan White' three-point play with 1.1 seconds left, and prevailed over Northeastern out of North Carolina by a count of 38-35 as D.J. Driscoll drained a pair of foul shots with 4.7 seconds to seal things.
White got hot in the title match by scoring eight of the Bruins' first 12 points. But WCA wasn't in familiar territory. After all, they trailed Norcom - defending four-time State Champs - by four points with 11 seconds remaining in the quarterfinals. Greene made a pair of free-throws, the Eagles got a steal and Ra'Shawn found twin brother Da'Shawn for a buzzer-beater.
In the semifinals, it was 6-foot-9 big man Chester Makoi getting the WCA fans excited with an alley-oop during an 8-0 run that enabled the Eagles to hold off Hampton, 25-19, avenging a loss to the Crabbers from Saturday.
With 6-foot-3 forward Dexter Radcliffe (2019) missing during Sunday's tourney, more scoring responsibility fell on the shoulders of the Cook twins and Makoi. Those three combined for 22 points. Ra'Shawn had five assists to go with his steals.
Greene, who was electric last season in averaging 25.7 points and 9.5 rebounds as well as 3.1 steals per game, threw home an alley-oop to give the Eagles a three-point lead in the closing moments against Western Branch. He shared game-high scoring honors with White, each scoring 10 points.
"I think that he's the toughest guard in the state," Brown said of Greene, who played previously at Grafton High School before coming to WCA before the 2015-16 campaign. "He does a lot of things for us and is just getting better. He has a no quit attitude. He's destined to make a play defensively, gets blocks, gets over things quickly and plays with confidence."
Video Interview with Williamsburg Christian Coach Chris Brown:
Hornets Sting Bertie, Win Lion Division:
Seeded ninth for the 11-team single elimination tourney of the Lion Division, the Deep Creek Hornets won four do-or-die games to pick up some hardware. It was quite an accomplishment for the Chesapeake school that graduated nine seniors from last season's squad that finished 16-10 overall and earned their first trip to regionals since 2008.
Deep Creek jumped out to a 24-9 lead and never looked back in cruising to a 31-18 win over tenth-seeded Bertie out of North Carolina in the Lion Division Championship.
In the semifinals, Deep Creek had a much closer call against fifth-seeded Booker T. Washington, edging the Bookers 22-20 in sudden death overtime on Deja Jackson's game-winner.
They also had a nerve-wracking nail-biter in the quarterfinals against top-seeded Nansemond-Suffolk Academy, beating the Saints 21-19 on rising senior Ryan Spratley's game-winning bucket on the fourth possession in the OT.
Leading the way for the Hornets throughout the weekend was 6-foot-5 forward Caleb Butts, a Class of 2019 forward drawing some attention from Division I schools and already holds an offer courtesy of Division II Bluefield.
Butts imposed his will against defenders, scoring in the paint with regularity, knocking down open jumpers, getting to the foul line and blocking shots. In his first season with the Hornets as a sophomore in 2016-17, he averaged 17.7 points and 10 rebounds per game to earn Second Team All-Region and First Team All-Conference 17 honors.
serves as Publisher for VirginiaPreps.com, part of the Rivals.com Network, and is a regular contributor to the ACC Sports Journal. Check out Hatfield’s Twitter page for more sports related updates, and you can also read his work in the Suffolk News Herald. To contact Matthew, please e-mail email@example.com, and don’t forget to listen to him every Saturday at 10AM on ESPN Radio 94.1.