Boys Basketball: Stone Bridge Shooters Shine Against John Champe

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Ashburn, Va. — Stone Bridge High School senior guard Ben Kling and the rest of the Bulldogs shooters found the bottom of the net early and often – connecting on 16 three pointers – en route to an 83-53 win over Potomac District foe John Champe High School on January 12 in Ashburn.

“We’re not reinventing the wheel here,” Stone Bridge head coach Corey Stitzel said. “The Golden State Warriors are the best team in the world and this is what they do. Villanova won the national title a few years ago and this is what they do. We’re very lucky that we have eight or nine guys that can all make multiple threes in a game.”

Known for its trio of guards Evan Buckley, James DiLuigi and Kling – who scored a game-high 27 points, aided by six three pointers – Stone Bridge showed impressive depth from beyond the arc, specifically from senior forward Neeraj Thokala, who played limited minutes off the bench, scoring eleven points in second quarter alone.

Evan Buckley Stone Bridge Basketball

Stone Bridge junior point guard Evan Buckley led the Bulldogs with a game-high 6 assists, as Stone Bridge spread the ball around to seven different scorers. Full photo gallery by Mike Ferrara!

“We play with all five guys, and everyone is a shooter,” Kling said. “We had good play from our point guard and the bigs, kicking it in and then back out for open threes.”

While shooting is the name of the game at Stone Bridge (4-2, 6-6), the Bulldogs defense stepped up, holding John Champe (1-5, 5-6) to just 53 points.

“I don’t think we’re a particularly good defensive team overall sometimes, but tonight, we did a really good job,” Stitzel said. “We held them to 25 points in the first half. They’re a team that scores a lot of points.”

The Knights – who were averaging 71 points per game coming into this one – struggled to get shots to fall throughout the night.

“We got a lot of stops and turned the ball over well,” Buckley said. “Obviously, they score a lot of points, and they get up and down, but we had a good defensive game plan, and we executed it.”

John Champe’s depth, however, was also evident as ten different Knights contributed, including a team-high 10-point, 8-rebound performance from junior forward Sam Watkins.

Sam Watkins John Champe Basketball

John Champe junior forward Sam Watkins paced the Knights in the loss with 10 points and 8 rebounds. Full photo gallery by Mike Ferrara!

“Watkins is tough,” Stitzel said. “But at the end of the night, we made him take some jumpers, and we didn’t put him on the foul line until late.”

The win pushes the Bulldogs to 4-2 in the Potomac District, in a three-way tie for second place with Broad Run and Potomac Falls.

“You have to win your home games, then you have to steal some against some good teams on the road. We haven’t lost a district game at home yet,” Stitzel said. “This league is very competitive top to bottom. We can beat anybody, but we can also lose to anybody.”

John Champe aims to get back on track on January 16 when they travel to Rock Ridge to play for a much-needed win for both teams.

Stone Bridge will soon face its biggest home tests of the season as they tango with Broad Run, Tuscarora, Potomac Falls and Freedom over the next three weeks.

“If we make stops and we make shots,” Buckley said. “It’s going to be really hard to beat us.”

Stone Bridge Stats
Name Points Rebounds Assists Steals Blocks FT
Ben Kling 27 3 4 4 0 1/5
Evan Buckley 17 2 6 1 0 7/8
Neeraj Thokala 13 4 0 1 0 2/2
Isiah Rhodes 8 7 2 1 0 0/0
Tyler Warden 8 3 0 1 0 2/2
Zion Ware 5 6 1 1 0 3/5
James DiLuigi 5 5 2 1 0 0/0
Jasiah Mason 0 3 1 1 0 0/0
Michael Jerome 0 2 0 0 0 0/0
Eric Palmer 0 0 0 1 0 0/2
Bulldogs 83 35 16 12 0 15/24
John Champe Stats
Name Points Rebounds Assists Steals Blocks FT
Sam Watkins 10 9 0 0 0 2/6
Tyler Savage 8 4 3 1 0 1/5
Nick Ryan 8 1 0 0 0 0/0
Josiah Garmon 7 1 0 0 0 0/0
Cerico Conway 6 7 0 1 0 1/2
Angelo Easter, Jr. 5 1 0 0 0 0/0
Andrew Arbore 4 2 2 2 0 1/2
Brandon Burdick 3 2 2 1 0 0/0
Jeremiah Godwin 1 3 0 1 0 1/2
Daniel Antwi 1 0 0 0 0 1/2
Thai Nguyen 0 3 2 0 0 0/0
Dalton Young 0 1 1 0 0 0/0
Knights 53 34 10 6 0 7/19
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LoCoSports founder Owen Gotimer is a graduate of the esteemed S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University — where he graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Broadcast and Digital Journalism. The highlight of Owen's young career was the creation, launch, and expansion of LoCoSports – a hyperlocal news site covering high school athletics in Loudoun County, Va.

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