This is the season’s first edition of The Post’s high school boys’ basketball notebook, which covers the top stories in the Washington, D.C. area. During the season, the notebook will run every Monday.
In this week’s notebook, we cover Wilson, Fairmont Heights, Loudoun Valley and Wilde Lake.
Reigning DCIAA champion Wilson has the ‘firepower’ for another deep run: Coach Angelo Hernandez doesn’t want to single out a player on his No. 3 Wilson team.
By highlighting point guard Ayinde Hikim after averaging 13.2 points per game last year, Hernandez could take away from complimenting Hikim’s backcourt partner in junior Carlos Dunn.
If he focuses on Ricardo Lindo’s ability to transition between the perimeter and the post, then he could detract from the importance of center Josiah Marable as one of the city’s top true big men.
And that’s before Hernandez lauds his two new transfers. In short, the coach said, “we have a lot of different parts.”
“We have a good core group to make a deep run,” Hernandez said. “I never like to count my eggs before they hatch, but we’ll be pretty good. But I know also we’ll be hunted.”
Wilson, coming off its first District of Columbia Interscholastic Athletic Association championship since 1984, doesn’t expect to wilt this season.
In addition to returning four starters, junior Jay Heath and sophomore Dimingus Stevens have arrived from O’Connell. Both averaged at least five points last year, while Heath stood out as a passer.
“[Heath] wants to guard everybody’s best player, so he’s kind of a key that puts us in a different atmosphere,” Hernandez said. “[Stevens is] still learning, but he’s really, really good. So with those two pieces, we put ourselves possibly in a different conversation.”
Hernandez said experience against some of the region’s top competition last season, including reigning Washington Catholic Athletic Conference champion Gonzaga in the District of Columbia State Athletic Association championship, should prove beneficial as the Tigers continue to build chemistry early in the season.
“I can’t say how we’ll play now,” Hernandez said. “We’re still working on it, but we have a lot of firepower.”
Fairmont Heights ready to write its story in the revamped 1A South region: Chuck Henry noticed an unsettling trend when he took over Fairmont Heights as coach in 2015.
“The basketball tradition had almost vanished on us,” Henry said.
Fresh off the school’s first state championship in 36 years, Fairmont Heights basketball is alive and well. With almost all players returning — including point guard Darren Lucas-White, small forward Kimani Benjamin and five others who started at least 10 games last year — the Hornets may not have to wait so long for another state title.
“He’s just a kid who can do it all,” Henry said of Lucas-White. “He can make every pass in the repertoire. He’s big. He’s fast. He’s strong. And the thing I love about him is he’s a fierce defender.”
The Hornets’ 1A South region has became much more difficult with Douglass, Largo and Lackey joining after school reclassifications.
But the Hornets will be battle-tested when the region tournament comes after a schedule featuring matchups against No. 6 St. John’s and No. 12 Rock Creek Christian.
The Hornets’ focus on gritty defense and discipline, so the coaching staff has begun preaching a message of humility coming off last season’s high.
“Last year’s version of you won the state championship,” Henry said. “This year’s version of you hasn’t done accomplished anything yet. Now is our opportunity to write the story.”
Loudoun Valley back for more with Jordan Miller: Last season, Loudoun Valley went 30-1 and won the school’s first basketball state championship. Six seniors were on that team, but the Vikings have a consistent program to groom replacement talent. Every year since Chad Dawson started coaching in Purcellville before the 2003-04 season, Scott Fitzwater has coached the junior varsity.
“At Valley, we teach kids how to prepare to win, and they’re prepared to step in whenever they’re needed,” Dawson said. “This year again, we have some really strong kids from JV coming up.”
If the Vikings equal last winter’s success, they will need contributions from the new faces. Still, all eyes will be on senior Jordan Miller. The 6-foot-6 George Mason commit averaged 22.9 points per game as a junior.
“He’s looking for his three-point shot a bit more, which I think is going to make him difficult to guard,” said Dawson, who was last season’s All-Met Coach of the Year. “He’s playing way above the rim. He’s added four to five inches on his vertical, and you can definitely tell.”
Trea Keys aims to help Wilde Lake build on surprising success: Trea Keys took Howard County by surprise last season, averaging 18.6 points as a sophomore and guiding Wilde Lake to a 16-9 record. Whatever the 5-foot-8, 155-pound point guard lacked in size, he made up for with electric scoring.
Now an upperclassman, Keys knows he’ll be targeted more by opposing defenders who know his name, who have seen his highlight tape. Wildecats Coach Deon Wingfield is confident his leader can handle the challenge, insisting that the onus will be on the team’s supporting cast.
“I think Trea will be a marked man,” Wingfield said. “Not saying that he’s not capable of producing like he did last year, but I think he’ll be No. 1 on everyone’s board. . . . Our juniors need to step up. If they do, we can go far.”
Wilde lost to Decatur in last season’s Maryland 3A East title game, ending an unexpected run when the No. 5 seed Wildecats knocked off three higher seeds — including No. 1 seed River Hill.
Wingfield said his team, made up of six seniors and eight juniors, operates on offense with four perimeter players and one in the post, an alignment that allows Keys to thrive with the ball in his hands.
If the Wildecats’ supporting cast of athletic, tall wings can knock down shots and haul in rebounds, Wingfield said, Wilde Lake can build on its success from a season ago.