Champe boys’ basketball Coach Kip Shallis remembers the frustration he felt at times during last year’s one-win inaugural season.
But he knew he had to allow his young team learn what varsity basketball was like in Northern Virginia. There were moments where he dialed back his competitive spirit so that he could help his players improve over the long run.
With the first month of the 2013-14 season nearly complete, the Knights (4-3) have already exceeded Shallis’s expectations.
“There’s no measure for experience,” Shallis said. “Experience is huge. These guys grew up a lot last year, took their lumps and worked hard in the offseason.”
The Knights have been led by senior forward Jeff Rhodes, who’s averaging 15.8 points and 11 rebounds per game. Sophomore guard Zach Burdick has contributed 11.3 points, five steals and four assists per game
The inexperience Champe faced a season ago has turned into a strength this season. But there is still room for improvement. Leading Dominion 26-23 at the half last Thursday, Champe was unable to hold on and lost, 52-40. But Shallis feels the strides his team has made thus far will make the Knights a much stronger team.
“They saw what varsity basketball speed is last year,” Shallis said. “They were overwhelmed by it last year. Their expectations have grown and their skill level has grown to allow them to compete at this level.”
After finishing 5-17 a season ago, Broad Run has jumped out to a 5-1 start heading into the holiday break.
One of the primary reasons for Broad Run’s hot start is senior Khiorie Stewart, who’s averaging 28 points per game. In Broad Run’s past two games, both coming against Sherando, Stewart posted 27 and 29 points, respectively. In the second game, 22 of his points came in the second quarter, with 15 of those from five consecutive three-pointers made.
Broad Run Coach John Costello is beginning to believe Stewart could make a case for himself as one of the conference’s top players by the season’s end.
“I think he’s going to blow up this year and be on a lot of guys’ radar,” Costello said. “He’s starting to get really consistent. He has some big time upside. He can play guard for us and forward.”
Three Loudoun girls’ basketball teams will be competing in the 2013 Maroon & Gold Classic, which begins Thursday.
Broad Run (5-1), which is hosting the tournament, Champe and Heritage are all participating in the eight-team field. The Spartans will boast one of the top players at the event in sophomore forward Mariah Leonard, who averages 26 points and 12.8 rebounds per game.
Heritage’s Kayla Tibbs is a scoring threat at 18 points per game and Champe (4-2) is winning games with defense, holding opponents to 36.7 points each outing.
Heritage (2-4) will face Yorktown and Broad Run and Champe will meet in the first round on Thursday.