Northwest Region Basketball: Battlefield boys on precipice of first state tournament berth
By Preston Williams,
The Battlefield boys have won the first Virginia AAA Northwest Region playoff games in program history, beating two teams they had lost to early in the season. With a region semifinal victory Thursday night at George Washington-Danville, the Bobcats could qualify for the state tournament for the first time.
“The old saying is that good is the enemy of great,” Battlefield Coach Kurt Pauly said. “And right now, we’re trying to be great.”
The Bobcats have been just that in the region playoffs. They beat Patrick Henry-Roanoke and Potomac (Va.) in the first two rounds of regionals and are playing with what Pauly calls “a quiet confidence.” That was evident at Potomac on Tuesday night when the Bobcats shot 48 percent from the floor in a 74-60 win.
“We defended well also, and you could feel the confidence building and building,” Pauly said. “Not one or two guys were hitting, all of them were hitting.”
Senior point guard Roman Hall scored 20 points, more than double what he managed against Potomac on Nov. 29 in a 55-41 loss in which he made only one field goal. Tuesday night marked his sixth 20-point night of the season.
“He’s played almost every single minute,” Pauly said. “He’s not big in terms of upper body, but he does everything for us.”
Five Battlefield players average double figures or close to it, led by junior Trevor Blondin and Hall, who are each around 15 points per game, followed by junior Jamison Glover (11.3), senior Terrell Walker (10.4) and sophomore Kam Hedgepath (9.6).
Each has scored 19 points or more in a game. And each has gotten to the foul line more than 70 times, a testament to the team’s measured aggressiveness offensively. In the quarterfinal win at Potomac, the Bobcats (18-8) went 24 of 38 from the line compared to 15 of 17 for the Panthers.
“I’ve had teams that are just as talented as this one, but for whatever reason, this one just plays well together,” said Pauly, who coached a Minnesota team to a Class 4A championship appearance in 2006. That team included Rodney Williams, currently the second-leading scorer for the University of Minnesota.
Traditionally, the balance of boys’ basketball power in Prince William County has been tilted heavily toward the eastern end, with Potomac, Gar-Field and formerly Woodbridge. In recent years, that power has shifted somewhat toward the western end, with Manassas school Osbourn reaching the past two state tournaments, Battlefield winning in regionals for the first time this season and Stonewall Jackson, after topping Gar-Field on Tuesday, reaching the region semis for the first time since 2003.
Stonewall plays its region semi at Stafford County school Mountain View on Thursday. Battlefield lost three times to Stonewall, including in the Virginia AAA Cedar Run championship.
Next season, when the state playoff structure is realigned, the Manassas-area schools will compete in 6A North with the 21 largest Northern Region schools, while the eastern Prince William teams will play in 6A South, with the larger schools in the Richmond and Virginia Beach areas.