Preview: Virginia AAA Northern Region boys’ basketball semifinals
By Brandon Parker,
Here’s a look at the Virginia AAA Northern Region boys’ basketball semifinals set for 6 and 8 p.m. Friday at Robinson. The winners advance to the championship Saturday and earn berths in the state tournament.
South County (11-16) vs. W.T. Woodson (22-4), 6 p.m.: Cinderella meets the preseason favorite in this semifinal featuring two teams plenty familiar with one another from Patriot District competition. After finishing seventh in the district standings, South County has reeled off four wins and an appearance in the district title game. The Stallions are led by 6-foot-5 senior swingmen Justin Hampton (18.6 points per game) and All-Met linebacker Oren Burks, who is committed to play football at Vanderbilt. But the X-factor behind South County reaching its first state tournament is Brandon Berry. The sophomore guard has seen increased action in the postseason and excelled, scoring career-highs of nine and 11 points in South County’s last two wins.
W.T. Woodson is seeking its first region title and second berth in the state tournament. The Cavaliers swept the Stallions in two competitive regular-season meetings. Eric Bowles had success in both games, averaging 14.5 points and getting to the free-throw line frequently. The Cavaliers thrive off a balanced offensive attack as witnessed by the four different players (Bowles, Michael Hansler, Peter Murray, Tommy Stepka) who have led them in scoring in the last four games. The Stallions will have to find ways to combat Woodson’s inside-outside ability behind the sharpshooting of Stepka and post forces like Murray (6-4) and Patrick Halloran (6-4).
Robinson (19-8) vs. Wakefield (23-4), 8 p.m.: Wakefield is coming off the most thrilling finish of these playoffs (so far) after Re’Quan Hopson drained his first three-point attempt of the season to beat Langley. The Warriors were held to a season-low 46 points in victory, as Langley slowed the tempo with its zone defense and halfcourt sets. The Warriors should be back to their fast-paced ways Friday against a Robinson team that also thrives in transition.
Wakefield has a strong one-two punch in Khory Moore (15.4 points per game) and Ermias Nega (14.0), slashers who attack the basket often. When these teams met on Dec. 1, Nega and Hopson led the Warriors to a win with Wakefield outscoring Robinson 38-14 in the second half.
The Rams have received consistent play from Matt Fall, who has led the team in scoring over the last three games. Like Wakefield, Robinson takes a small-ball approach in executing its offense but possesses capable rebounders in Nick Bynum and Will Grooms.
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