Loudoun County, Va. — As the high school boys basketball season heats up in Loudoun County, a few local teams have started to stand out from the crowd, while several others are potential contenders. Each week, Owen Gotimer and I will be alternating releasing our boys and girls basketball rankings. In a three-district county, we wanted a way to put things into perspective. Enter: the LoCo Top 5.
A few good games this week: Freedom has two tough tasks at home as they try to stay atop the Potomac District – a rematch of last year’s playoff game against the Briar Woods Falcons and then another as they try to avenge an earlier loss against Riverside.
The latter game is on the January 31, on the same day when Loudoun County and Loudoun Valley will clash in Purcellville for supremacy over the Dulles District.
It’s going to be a great week of hoops.
Of course, if you’re into hard numbers, check out the full Cedar Run District, Potomac District, and Dulles District standings.
If, for some unbeknownst reason, you’re here to listen to my opinion, well let’s get started.
1. John Champe (5-1, 14-4) —
Understanding John Champe comes from understanding the importance of shot creation. There is value in having a player who can fit in anywhere on a court, hitting open, spot-up jumpers, playing solid defense. You need those players to win.
John Champe has those players, but what they also have – arguably more importantly – are three premier ball-handlers. Junior guards Jalen Jasper and James Jasper and senior forward Tyler Savage can all break down a defense, the first two with artful grace and the latter with pure unadulterated power and strength.
3-1 in the last week including wins over Battlefield and Stonewall Jackson is a solid enough stretch to keep the Knights in the top spot, but the gap between them and the second team on the list is shrinking by the minute.
2. Freedom (5-1, 11-5) +2
Two dominant wins. That’s all the Freedom Eagles did to post their highest position in the LoCo Top 5 this season and also achieve the not so small task of leaping to the top of the Potomac District.
To be clear, the order of those two accolades is by their value to the Freedom Eagles and prestige.
Robbie Kemmerer is a stud folks. In two games against Potomac Falls and Stone Bridge, the senior put his name on the very short list of best guards in the entire county, scoring 22 and 25 points.
3. Potomac Falls (4-2, 11-5) -1
There’s a famous book by John Feinstein, who funnily enough has me and half of the world blocked on Twitter, Season on the Brink. That’s where the Potomac Falls Panthers found themselves after back-to-back losses, one to Freedom and the second to Rock Ridge on January 17 and 21, respectively.
The day after the Rock Ridge loss, Potomac Falls head coach Jeff Hawes displayed why he’s the best coach in the county, and at least temporarily stabilized a season on the brink.
4. Loudoun Valley (6-0, 13-3) -1
The teams in the Dulles District have, for the most, part played a relatively easy schedule. That comes from the district being remarkable top-heavy with two premier teams, one team that is consistent at being inconsistent, and then many rebuilders.
Because of that, it’s hard to tell whether records are built off of beating up on bad teams or elite play. There’s no denying this Loudoun Valley team has incredible talent. It starts with senior point guard Trent Dawson and extends to senior forward Clyde Volker and senior guard Avery Nance.
Wins over Dominion, Heritage, Tuscarora, and Broad Run offer great reason for hope, but the matchup with the best team they played in the last two weeks, Stone Bridge, was an 11-point loss.
Long season left, important game January 31, tests upcoming for the Vikings. Will they sink or swim?
5. Loudoun County (5-0, 10-4) +3
Surprisingly, Loudoun County hasn’t had to deal with any of the strength of schedule issues that Loudoun Valley has had to: they’ve had a remarkable tough road, including games against Freedom, Riverside, Briar Woods, and Stone Bridge – games they went 2-2 in. There’s a lot they do well, including defend with intensity.
There’s more good things to hear, as junior guard Caleb Rexroad has looked quite adept since his return from injury.
They’ve got a huge matchup on January 31 with No. 4 Loudoun Valley to see who really runs the Dulles District.
On the bubble: Stone Bridge (4-2, 10-4)
Wanna discuss the rankings? Hit me up via email at email@example.com or on Twitter/Instagram @byvarunshankar.