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Sunday, March 29, 2015

New RVA Sports Network Top 10 Baseball, Softball Polls....

BASEBALL (3/29/15)
1)    James River (4-0, #1)
2)    Hanover (2-0, #2)
3)    Deep Run (4-0, NR)
4)    Steward (5-0, #8)
5)    Benedictine (3-2, #7)
6)    Lee-Davis (3-1, #5)
7)    Douglas Freeman (2-2, #3)
8)    Patrick Henry (3-1, #6)
9)    Manchester (2-2, #10)

10—Cosby (2-2, #4)

SOFTBALL (3/29/15)
1)    Lee-Davis (4-0, #1)
2)    Manchester (3-0, #4)
3)    Atlee (2-0, #5)
4)    Cosby (3-3, #3)
5)    Prince George (1-0, #6)
6)    Patrick Henry (2-1, #2)
7)    King William (2-0, #7)
8)    Clover Hill (2-0, #9)
9)    Deep Run (3-1, NR)
10—Hanover (2-0, NR)

Friday, March 27, 2015

Friday Schedule Changes...

Here are the latest schedule changes for Friday 3/27 due to weather...

BASEBALL:
Glen Allen at Midlothian, postponed
Mills Godwin at J.R. Tucker, postponed to Thursday, April 30
Hermitage at Henrico, cancelled

SOFTBALL:
Glen Allen at Midlothian, postponed
Mills Godwin at J.R. Tucker, postponed to Thursday, April 30
Hermitage at Henrico, cancelled

BOYS LACROSSE:
Deep Run at Hermitage, postponed

GIRLS LACROSSE:
Western Albemarle at Douglas Freeman, postponed
Deep Run at Hermitage, postponed

BOYS TENNIS:
Lee-Davis at Mills Godwin, postponed

GIRLS TENNIS:
Mills Godwin at Lee-Davis, postponed

BOYS SOCCER:
Glen Allen at Monacan, postponed
Mills Godwin at Atlee, postponed

GIRLS SOCCER:
Monacan at Glen Allen, postponed
Atlee at Mills Godwin, postponed


Sunday, March 22, 2015

TOP 10: Baseball, Softball Polls Released

Here they are! The first RVA Sports Network Top 10 polls for high school baseball and softball for the 2015 season...

BASEBALL:

1) James River
2) Hanover
3) Douglas Freeman
4) Cosby
5) Lee-Davis
6) Patrick Henry
7) Benedictine
8) Steward
9) Midlothian
10) Manchester

SOFTBALL:

1) Lee-Davis
2) Patrick Henry
3) Cosby
4) Manchester
5) Atlee
6) Prince George
7) King William
8) James River
9) Clover Hill
10) Thomas Dale

Saturday, March 14, 2015

CHAMPIONS: Henrico Finishes The Journey With The Title....

It was a long, arduous journey, one that did not begin when the Virginia High School League (VHSL) calendar declared that high school basketball would begin practice in November.

"This started last summer," junior swingman Monte Buckingham said.

"This" was practices, hundreds of jumpers and free throws daily, one-on-one battles, and, to blow off steam, the occasional dunk-off. Add to that the loss of not just their gym for most of the season, but even their locker room, and you have the ingredients for creating a battle-tested team.

The final battle, for the Henrico Warriors, was won in convincing fashion, Saturday at the Siegel Center as the team jumped to an early lead, then kept the Norview Pilots at bay for a 78-64 win to capture their second state championship in three seasons.

The 2013 Warriors won the final Group AAA championship in the old VHSL format defeating John Marshall. Last year's team fell twelve points short against Potomac. This year's crew, beginning with the second overtime against L.C. Bird in the 5A South Region Semifinal, showed they would not be denied.

Head Coach Vance Harmon, when asked to compare the two championship teams, lauded each team's accomplishments, and rightfully so. They were different, and special in their own right. This team, six members of which surrounded him at the post-game press conference, will be remembered for many things.

They begin with overcoming adversity. Routine, even superstition, can be an important part of in-season life for players in any sport, at any level. With your gym going through renovations, playing your first sixteen games, including your own holiday tournament, on the road, not even having a locker room to call your own, can become a recipe for either distraction or motivation. That was the conundrum Harmon faced in November.

"One of our messages was, you can use this as an excuse, and if you want an excuse, you've got one right now, or you can look at it as a reason to come closer together and to deal with some obstacles," Harmon said.

The Warriors didn't back away. They began the season 10-0 before running into defending 6A state champion Colonial Forge, who repeated with that title Saturday night, in the finals of the Henrico Holiday Hoops Tournament. Without point guard Gus Rowland, the Warriors fought valiantly, but ran out of time, falling 68-67 after a Buckingham three-pointer went in with three seconds left, Colonial Forge allowing the clock to expire when the Warriors were out of timeouts.

They next had to travel to the Virginia Preps Classic the following Saturday to christen 2015 against the Pilots. They were down double-digits at halftime. They rallied, won 66-64, and began an eighteen-game winning streak that ended, for now, with hoisting the 5A Title trophy.

"We made it look easy, but it wasn't easy," explained Walter Williams, arguably the MVP of the playoff run for Henrico. "The season speaks for itself. We came up short against Colonial Forge, but I think that loss helped us become as good as we are now. Without that loss, we would have become big-headed and probably wouldn't have gotten as far as we have."

As for the championship game, it was Williams who seized control, scoring 12 of his game-high 23 points in the first quarter as the Warriors took a 25-12 lead, forcing eight Pilot turnovers. Three minutes later, Williams went viral, unleashing a reverse jam that blew the lid off the Siegel Center to up the lead to 23 at 37-14.

But the Warriors went cold for the rest of the half, scoring just two points, seemingly stuck at 39 points forever. It was 39-20 at halftime, a comfortable margin, but knowledgeable Henrico fans, and the coaching staff, remembered January 3rd, where the tables were turned, and the Warriors were down by fourteen at the break to the Pilots.

Enter Gus Rowland. The junior steadied the ship from the point, scoring eight points in the first 4:41 of the third quarter to help maintain the nineteen-point lead. A key play was when senior Tristan Bazemore zipped a pass to an open Rowland down the court for two. Bazemore received high praise from Harmon for his important role this season.

"He wanted to be the point guard, but I told him his skills, for our team, would be best utilized as a sixth man," Harmon remembered. "To Baze's credit, he accepted that, he put team before self and said he'd do what it takes to get here."

The fourth quarter was simply a matter of keeping the Pilots from mounting a final comeback. Williams withstood one-on-one defensive pressure, blew by a defender and got a three-point play the old-fashioned way with 3:08 left for a twelve-point lead. Two minutes later, Buckingham in transition, took the ball, and threw it deftly off the glass, as Williams crashed inside to take it and slam it home one final time in a Warrior uniform. The celebration was underway.

It was a celebration muted by a veteran team, a team with a mission. In the end, as many thought, their biggest challenge to a championship came across the river from L.C. Bird, who led late but eventually fell short, 111-99 in the 5A South Region Semifinals. Some at VCU today thought the Warriors and Skyhawks should have been the title game matchup.

But when it mattered most, all the disruptions, all the noise from opposing student sections, all the Bird/Henrico hype on social media all season, fed these Warriors to get better, day after day, with the singular goal of hoisting another trophy.

Harmon looked back at the final three-game stretch, beginning with the second win over Norview for the 5A South title.

"We took it as a statement game, trying to make a statement to the region and the state that this was our tournament to lose," Harmon explained. "The guys will tell you, we believed once we entered the final four, and you can ask them to a person, we felt there was only one team that could truly beat us."

Immediately, the six assembled Warriors all stated in unison: "Ourselves".

They didn't beat themselves. And no one else could come close to beating them either.


Thursday, March 12, 2015

5A State Semifinal: Henrico 96, Freedom 70

Far, far removed from the big stage of the Siegel Center, where the Henrico Warriors now expect to be come the second week of March, there is the old gym at Virginia Randolph High School near the intersection of Mountain and Woodman Roads.

Due to renovations to their gym at Henrico, the Warriors practiced many times at Virginia Randolph, a gym so old the backboards are wooden. Straight out of 'Hoosiers' according to Warriors head coach Vance Harmon.

It was there where the seeds were planted for what is now a 27-1 season, which culminates Saturday when Henrico plays for its second state championship in three seasons. Taking one step closer to erasing the bitter memory of falling the title game a year ago, the Warriors cruised to a 96-70 victory over Freedom in the 5A State Semifinal Thursday night.

For Henrico, even with standout players such as Monte Buckingham, who had a triple-double with 24 points, 14 rebounds and ten assists, and Walter Williams, whose postseason tear continued with a game-high 28 points and five rebounds, senior Ryan Pearson will tell you, it's all about the team.

"With us, you make sure you hold yourself accountable, and hold everyone else accountable," Pearson said after the game. "Towards the end of the year, we've talked about how, in big games, we've already won the game, in that we have to go out and show we won it in the offseason, in practice, you know, working hard and pushing each other. What we've done well the past few weeks is hold each other accountable and not take it personally."

Henrico held Freedom accountable from the opening tip, running off eleven points in the first 99 seconds. Just 3:18 into the game, Freedom found itself down 14-2. They caught fire late in the quarter, hitting four consecutive three-point shots, and, after eight minutes, the Warriors lead was just six at 27-21, even though it seemed they had dominated.

Then Freedom's offense disappeared. They didn't score a field goal until there was 2:29 left in the half. The Warriors, however, hadn't continued their offensive pace, and the lead, which could have been much bigger, was just 16. Harmon liberally used his bench to keep legs fresh. By halftime, it was 18 at 50-32.

Williams scored 13 in the first half, 15 more after the break. Buckingham was productive throughout the game as well, with 11 before halftime, 13 afterwards. Jamal Newton added ten, as the Warriors were never threatened in the second half. The biggest drama was saved for how many dunks Williams would have and whether Henrico would break the century mark again.

In his final game for Freedom, Frank Ageymang scored 26 points, while Alexander Ruffin added 18. But the Eagles committed 27 turnovers, many due to the constant, withering pressure Henrico brings to all 94 feet every moment of every game.

This is Henrico's third straight state championship berth. They won the final Group AAA title in 2013, 72-48 over John Marshall, then fell in the inaugural 5A State Final to Potomac last March, 54-42.

When the Warriors won it all two years ago, Walter Williams was handing out water behind the bench. Now the senior is handing out offense at a pace that has many thinking Division II Virginia State of the CIAA got a steal with his commitment collegiately to the Trojans.

But Williams, Buckingham, and everyone else have "paid their dues" to become part of one of the most successful basketball programs in Virginia this decade.

"Our young guys have strong right shoulders, because you'll see them carrying the dirty laundry, whether coming into the gym or out. It's a rite of passage. They go get the loose balls in practice," Harmon explained. "We always say 'trust the system, trust the process', and the guys understand that this is about paying it forward."

For Williams, Pearson, Marquis Johnson and Tristan Bazemore, their final deposit into the Bank of Henrico comes Saturday. They hope to leave the Siegel Center one final time as Warriors with a receipt marked "paid in full".

NOTES: Henrico faces Norview for the 5A State Championship Saturday at 2pm. This is the third meeting between the teams this season. The Warriors came from behind to beat Norview 66-64 on January 3rd to begin their current 17-game winning streak, and knocked them off 85-68 last Friday in the 4A South Region Championship. Both games were played in Hampton Roads. Tickets are $10, and doors open at 9am at Siegel Center...The Warriors have scored at least 80 points in five of their six playoff wins.


Monday, March 9, 2015

HONORS: All-5A South Region Basketball Teams

Congratulations to the following student-athletes for being honored! Area honorees are in bold.

BOYS:

FIRST TEAM:
De'Monte Buckingham--Henrico
Ryan Pearson--Henrico
Devin Morgan--Matoaca
Kenny Williams--L.C. Bird
Matt Coleman--Maury
Mastadi Pitt--Hampton
Daevon Brown--Norview
Deshaun Wade--Green Run

SECOND TEAM:
Lamont Steward--Norview
Janai Raynor-Powell--Kellam
Walter Williams--Henrico
AJ Gaston--Highland Springs
CJ Miles--L.C. Bird
Charles Falden--L.C. Bird
Marquise Godwin--Hampton
Emmoni Wood--Green Run

5A South Region Player of The Year: De'Monte Buckingham--Henrico
5A South Region Coach of The Year: Vance Harmon--Henrico

GIRLS:

FIRST TEAM:
Taja Cole--L.C. Bird
Ariel Stephenson--Prince George
Chanette Hicks--Maury
Destini Walker--Hermitage
CeCe Crudup--Highland Springs
Adria Strothers--Menchville
Bria Stith--Maury
Godiva Hubbard--Princess Anne

SECOND TEAM:
Kayla Airaghi--Maury
Danyeal Goodhope--Princess Anne
Na'jai Pollard--Highland Springs
Jennifer Coleman--Highland Springs
Jo Jo Taylor--Prince George
Tyra Shelton--L.C. Bird
Dara Pearson--Hampton
Reagan Holmes--Hickory

5A South Region Player of The Year: Taja Cole--L.C. Bird
5A South Region Coach of The Year: Darnell Dozier--Princess Anne

Saturday, March 7, 2015

VHSL State Basketball Championship Schedule

48 high school basketball teams come to the Siegel Center in pursuit of one thing: a State Championship trophy.

Here is the complete lineup of games from Monday through Saturday. Please note, the Siegel Center will be cleared out after the afternoon sessions Wednesday through Saturday. Local teams are in bold.

Monday March 9th
1A Boys State Semifinal: Honaker 68, Surry County 49
1A Girls State Semifinal: Clintwood 64, Surry County 38
1A Boys State Semifinal: Altavista 35, Galax 33
1A Girls State Semifinal: Twin Valley 67, Colonial Beach 61
2A Boys State Semifinal: Dan River 54, Prince Edward 41
2A Boys State Semifinal: Martinsville 64, Greensville 48

Tuesday March 10th
2A Girls State Semifinal: Central-Wise 64, Wilson Memorial 48
2A Girls State Semifinal: Floyd County 65, Clarke County 36
3A Boys State Semifinal: Spotswood 85, Hopewell 75
3A Girls State Semifinal: Turner Ashby 60, Petersburg 49
3A Boys State Semifinal: George Wythe 78, Northside 57
3A Girls State Semifinal: Broadway 51, John Marshall 50

Wednesday March 11th
Boys 1A State Championship: Altavista 57, Honaker 44
Girls 1A State Championship: Clintwood 52, Twin Valley 50
Boys 2A State Championship: Martinsville 54, Dan River 43
Girls 2A State Championship: Central-Wise 63, Floyd County 59

Boys 3A State Championship, George Wythe 80, Spotswood 60
Girls 3A State Championship, Turner Ashby 64, Broadway 60

Thursday March 12
4A Boys State Semifinal: I.C. Norcom 71, GW-Danville 59
4A Girls State Semifinal: Midlothian 55, Loudoun County 51
4A Boys State Semifinal: King's Fork 69, E.C. Glass 58
4A Girls State Semifinal: Monacan 58, William Fleming 57

5A Boys State Semifinal: Henrico 96, Freedom 70
5A Boys State Semifinal: Norview 60, Potomac 50

Friday March 13
5A Girls State Semifinal: Princess Anne 77, Tuscarora 40
5A Girls State Semifinal: L.C. Bird 55, Thomas Edison 48
6A Boys State Semifinal: Colonial Forge 59, W.T. Woodson 51
6A Girls State Semifinal: Cosby 70, James Madison 60 (OT)

6A Boys State Semifinal: Westfield 64, Landstown 60 (3 OT)
6A Girls State Semifinal: Bethel 73, Oakton 63

Saturday March 14
Boys 4A State Championship, I.C. Norcom 52, King's Fork 40
Girls 4A State Championship, Monacan 64, Midlothian 57
Boys 5A State Championship, Henrico 78, Norview 64
Girls 5A State Championship, Princess Anne 71, L.C. Bird 65

NOTES: Tickets are $10. Parking available across the street from Siegel Center in deck for $8. Games will be televised on CBS 6.3 (usual digital weather channel).

Boys 6A State Championship: Colonial Forge 47, Westfield 46
Girls 6A State Championship, Cosby 46, Bethel 45