Loudoun County, Va. — As sports come to a grinding halt across the country, we wanted to reflect on the efforts of the boys basketball teams in Loudoun County this winter. It was a remarkably successful season for Loudoun County boys basketball, as teams from the county captured both the VHSL Region 4C and Region 5C championships. To properly reflect the aforementioned efforts, here is the last LoCo Top 5 of the 2019-2020 season.
On a side note: this will be my last story writing about basketball for LoCoSports. I’m not done writing entirely just yet hopefully. If spring sports resume I’ll be covering those, but as for basketball, that’s it for me. Thank you to everyone: the head coaches and players who gave me their time after wins and losses, the assistant coaches who gave me stats and some valuable information, and, of course, to every fan who read, listened, or watched anything I’ve put out over the past two years. It’s been a pleasure, but I’m not done just yet, here’s one more LoCo Top 5.
For this Top 5, I’ll recap what each team accomplished and then bring up one image that will stick with me while I remember this season.
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. Potomac Falls (9-3, 20-7) +1
After losing their old best player to graduation, after rumors of a damaging knee injury to their new best player, after an early-season slump against tough opponents, after back-to-back losses that had them questioning their team’s abilities. After all that, the Potomac Falls Panthers won a Potomac District championship, a Region 5C championship, and came a game away from getting a state championship ring in a shortened season.
Pour one out (a root beer) for Landon Hawes and Jalen Coker, the two seniors who formed one of the most dynamic one-two punches Loudoun County has ever seen.
If I close my eyes, I can still see Hawes coming off a pin-down screen to hit a deep-three pointer with a hand in his face. The next possession, I see Coker pretend he’s still a free-safety on the football field, intercepting a pass and taking it coast to coast with a thunderous jam.
2. Loudoun County (12-0, 21-6) -1
The Dulles District was always supposed to be top-heavy, but Loudoun County separated themselves from the rest again and again. They hit their stride mid-season, and never looked back, using their dominant defense to keep opposing offenses off balance and disconcerted all the time. They captured two Dulles District championships, one for the regular season and another for the tournament, and then the first VHSL Region 4C championship in the school’s boys basketball history.
If I close my eyes, the dominant image will always be Matt Anderson. Him commanding the offense, using his remarkable ability to change speeds and scoring through contact at the hoop. His confidence, a persona that exuded swagger. Matt Anderson wasn’t afraid to talk trash or celebrate in your face. The best part, he always backed it up.
3. John Champe (8-2, 18-7) —
The Knights had a great deal of upheaval coming into the season. New faces were everywhere: their head coach Walter Webb and the Jasper twins, Jalen and James. Those new names were added to an existing star in senior Tyler Savage. The team flourished, finishing second in the Cedar Run District and making it to the championship game of the Cedar Run District tournament before falling there.
If I close my eyes, it’ll be two images. The first will be Tyler Savage isolating some poor defender with a clear paint, using his status as one of the absolute best athletes in the county to overpower anyone in his path. The second will be Jalen Jasper pulling up from deep for three, having the courage to take shots few would and the ability to make shots even fewer could.
4. Riverside (7-5, 15-11) +4
I got an email a couple weeks ago, although it feels like an eternity at this point, telling me I was sleeping on Riverside. Now, I don’t think I was wrong, but Riverside’s postseason run, in which they as a No. 6 seed beat R.E. Lee and Freedom to clinch a berth in the state tournament, has to be recognized. Fun fact about the Rams, even though they finished a game behind Freedom in the regular season standings, they defeated the Eagles in all three matchups.
If I close my eyes, I’ll see a poised Beau Everett, never batting an eye, dishing the ball to one of Riverside’s lethal shooters or getting to the hole for a finish. The Rams were a quiet team that did a really good job of confusing opposing teams and coaches…a team that legendary coach Jeff Hawes said confused him more than any team he’d ever coached against.
5. Freedom (8-4, 15-9) -1
For parts of the year, the Freedom Eagles looked like a state champion caliber team. Senior guard Robbie Kemmerer had risen into his spot as a leading guard, fellow senior Lance Johnson was manning the paint and occasionally shooting beautifully from deep, and they had a supporting cast that was more than solid—it was fun to watch.
Their inconsistencies doomed them, as they saw their season end to Riverside in a VHSL Region 5C semifinal. Nevertheless they were an extremely talented and successful team at their peak, defeating Potomac Falls two times and John Champe once.
If I close my eyes, I’ll see Kemmerer defending Landon Hawes better than basically anyone else, using his stout frame to stop any drives in. On the other end, it has to be Kemmerer’s drives to the hoop and subsequent kick-out passes to a host of shooters for three.
On the bubble: Loudoun Valley (9-3, 18-8), Dominion (9-3, 16-7)
Wanna discuss the rankings? Hit me up via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter/Instagram @byvarunshankar.