Virginia AAA Northern Region Boys' Basketball
Stuart's Postseason Victory Is a Family Affair
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Following Stuart's 59-53 first-round Virginia AAA Northern Region tournament victory over visiting Herndon last night, Stuart senior Mo Ibrahim interlaced his fingers on top of his head and stared at the ceiling outside the locker room, looking for the perfect word to describe his team.
Watching Ibrahim squirm, Stuart junior Antonio Harris Jr. interjected.
"Family," said Harris, a 6-foot-1 sharp-shooter who connected on a variety of pull-up jumpers, floaters, bank shots and crafty finishes for a 17-point performance that gave the Raiders their first regional tournament victory since 1996.
Stuart (19-6) will travel to No. 4 T.C. Williams (24-2) tomorrow.
"Yeah, that's right. Family," said Ibrahim, who finished with eight points and absorbed two key charges from Herndon senior Isaac Johnson (21 points) to squash Herndon's fourth-quarter push.
Some teams preach family to foster unity; at Stuart, no preaching is necessary -- the Raiders really are family. Harris's father, Tony Harris, is the head coach; cousin Kevin Harris is an assistant and back-court running mate Trey Ford, a senior guard, is also his cousin. Stuart seniors Dominique Kosh and Raymond Watson are cousins.
Last night, Watson (11 points), Kosh (10 points) and Ford (11 points) surrounded Harris Jr. in a run-and-gun approach that ended perennial power Herndon's season at 13-10.
"Tonight was a big step," said Tony Harris, who two years ago left his coaching position at Falls Church High School and took with him both Ford and his son, starting a turnaround that took a program that averaged 3.5 wins per season in the previous seven years to a 34-15 record in the past two. "This is a big sigh of relief. We finally got what we deserve."
Ibrahim, a 6-5 high-flying senior, showed promise as a sophomore and was pulled up to varsity. However, he asked to play down with the junior varsity squad -- a team he thought had a better chance of winning.
"I've never heard of anybody doing that," said Tony Harris. "No one ever does that. I mean, he thought it was okay to just play with his friends and I understand that part of it, but that will never happen here again."
Stuart 59, Herndon 53 Times Are Changing: In the seven years before Tony Harris took over as coach, the Raiders had combined for a total of 25 wins -- one less victory than Herndon posted during its 2006 season, when it rode McDonald's all-American Scottie Reynolds (Villanova) to a 26-5 state runner-up finish. Up Next: Stuart advanced to a date tomorrow with reigning region and state champion T.C. Williams, which has won the past two region titles.