West Springfield's imposing center Marshall Ausberry, one of the state's top offensive lineman in football, had his first "statement" game of the season on Monday, helping the Spartans post perhaps the biggest boys' basketball upset of the young Northern Region season, 62-59 over No. 12 Hayfield.
The 6-foot-6 Ausberry, who is listed at 330 pounds, had 17 points and 14 rebounds as West Springfield knocked off the defending region champion Hawks (8-1, 1-1 Patriot District through Monday).
Senior forward Josh Wilson added 14 points and 10 rebounds for the host Spartans (6-4, 1-1), and senior guard Justin Baker had 18 points.
"It looks like Marshall is rounding into basketball condition," West Springfield Coach Dick Wickline said of Ausberry, who has committed to play football next year at Virginia.
West Springfield trailed by 12 points in the first half, and 35-30 at intermission.
"We went 10 deep into our roster and they only really played five guys," Wickline said. "I think we wore them down a bit."
Wickline also credited his team's perimeter defense, particularly Derrick Braziel and Drew Murray, which limited the play of the Hawks' outstanding backcourt of A.J. Fitzgerald (10 points) and Michael Lee (24 points), especially in the third quarter. Hayfield's inside threat, Jahmar Claxton, was held to 12 points for the game.
"You can't play typical defense against Hayfield," said Wickline, "or they'll stick a three on you."
West Springfield made 8 of 11 free throws in the fourth quarter and 15 of 18 for the game.
Kreisel Responds After Rare Loss
Fairfax wrestler Jeff Kreisel said losing his first match this season against West Springfield was a good thing. He was ahead in the match with just 30 seconds remaining, but made a bad decision and got beat on what he called a "fluky" pin.
Having won 19 straight bouts since, Kreisel has all but put that one blemish behind him.
"That was really a wake-up call for me," said Kreisel, a senior who had never been pinned as a prep wrestler. "It really motivated me. I've been wrestling for 10 years, and this is my last year. I want to do my best."
Kreisel, who moved up three weight classes to 152 pounds, took the past offseason seriously. He and senior teammate Nick Scibilia (160 pounds) lifted weights every day for five consecutive months in preparation for this season.
Rebels Coach Mitch Sutterfield described Kreisel as "just a mediocre wrestler at 135 last year," when he placed second in the Liberty District.
"He was always a technically sound wrestler, but now he has power," Sutterfield said. "He's got big arms and is all muscled up. He's a gym fanatic, and that's helped. We let him compete at 160 [in a North Stafford event last weekend] and he won both times."
Sutterfield said hopes his squad can snap a run of four consecutive second-place district finishes.
Langley won the past two district crowns and Madison took the prior two; Fairfax was champion from 1996-98. Fairfax lost by just one point to Langley earlier this season, but the Rebels were without a complete roster and had to forfeit three matches.
Leaps and Bounds at Westfield
Westfield, a third-year wrestling program hoping to make the leap to Northern Region title contender after placing fifth in the Concorde District last year, showed marked improvement Saturday, going 6-2 at a 10-team Mount Vernon duals event.
Seniors Zack Marquardt (145 pounds) and Chris Goings (160 and 171) each went 8-0, and junior Nick Sposa (140) and sophomore Ryan Schalk (130) each lost only two bouts.
Bulldogs Coach Chuck Hoskins set team goals this year of winning 15 dual meets, placing in the top three in the Concorde District and top 10 in the region, and earning three state place-winners.
"That might be a bit out of our grasp, but we've become very respectable in a very short period of time," he said.
Sposa, competing in perhaps the toughest weight class on Saturday night, held his own against highly regarded Stephen Ward of Madison and pinned McLean senior Jordan Johnson. Goings (21-0), the defending district champion and region runner-up at 160, won five bouts Saturday at 171.
"We put him up a class because it gave us the best chance to win that dual match," Hoskins said.
Westfield's top regular-season test will come in early February when it faces defending district and region champion Herndon.