Star sophomores fuel Dulles District rivals Dominion, Tuscarora
By Gabe Hiatt,
A.J. Robinson estimates his friendship with Lael Davis dates back to the fourth grade. The two sophomore guards share 5:30 a.m. offseason training sessions at Claude Moore Park in Sterling, Va. They play on the same Virginia Run N Gun AAU team coached by Robinson’s father, Arthur.
But Robinson has a beef with his friend.
Davis, wearing a Titans jersey, sank the game-winning layup in the final seconds of the Dominion’s 60-58 victory over Robinson’s Tuscarora (Va.) Huskies in a Dec. 18 matchup of AA Dulles District rivals.
The rematch is Tuesday night, and Robinson said his team is ready to stifle Davis.
“I know what he likes to do. I know he has some weaknesses,” Robinson said. “I definitely want to beat him. It’s (for) bragging rights.”
For Tuscarora (9-8, 8-6 AA Dulles) or Dominion to win, each team must get a strong contribution from its youngest player.
Robinson and Davis represent the only sophomores on their respective rosters, and in each case, talent overrides youth. Robinson leads Tuscarora with 15.5 points per game, and Davis is Dominion’s top scorer at 12.8.
As a transfer from O’Connell, Davis is greener in the district than his AAU teammate. Robinson had time to earn the respect of his older teammates as a freshman starter for the Huskies last year, but Davis walked into the gym at Dominion (10-7, 7-7) an unknown.
“I came in fresh, and everybody was older than me,” Davis said. “After I showed everybody my skills, I was able to lead them.”
Tuscarora Coach Justin Brown said he will center his defensive game plan on Davis in an effort to force other Titans to pick up the scoring slack.
“They’re a tough team anyway, but [Davis] added a scoring presence that I think they probably didn’t have before,” Brown said.
For the Huskies, Robinson is capable of the offensive outbursts necessary to negate Davis’ production.
The point guard scored more than 20 points in four games this season, including in his last two. On Dec. 19, the night after losing to Dominion, Robinson tied Tuscarora’s single-game scoring record of 27 points in a win over Kettle Run. Last week against Park View, he came within three points of re-setting his own mark in another win.
“(The record) would be a huge deal to me,’ Robinson said. “The school is new, and I would like to set the baseline for the records, especially as a sophomore.”
Robinson’s rise has mirrored the ascent of the Leesburg school, which opened its doors three years ago. In its first year, the basketball team did not register one win. Last season, Robinson’s first, the Huskies won a total of three games. This season they are one win away from double digits.
A self-described “finesse” player with a tough streak, Robinson cited maturation on and off the court as a reason for improvement. Coach Brown said his star pupil has adapted to the physical nature of the high school game.
Leaning heavily on Robinson’s production, the Huskies go into the week tied for fourth place in the district with crosstown rival Loudoun County. Dominion sits one game behind in fifth place heading into Tuesday’s key contest.
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