Ashburn, Va. — The Broad Run High School boys basketball team entered the season in uncharted territory. Led by a first-year head coach, the Spartans were without a single returning starter from last season’s squad to start their 2021-2022 campaign, and across their entire roster had very little varsity experience.
“The guys are hungry. They know there are opportunities on this team which is an exciting way to play,” Broad Run head coach Jake Krogh said. “We’re waiting on football players to get back, so guys are in bigger roles than they’re going to be, and they’re flourishing in those roles.”
Most of Broad Run’s varsity experience came in the form of junior shooting guard Eli Will, who put his team on his back in the Spartans’ 53-45 win over the Heritage Pride on December 13 in Ashburn.
“He was patient, he got some looks in the flow of the offense, and then he started being more and more aggressive,” Krogh said. “That’s the game we want him to play: get into the flow of the offense, then when he starts to get the feel, put the pedal to the metal.”
After both teams got out to a slow start in the first quarter, Will found his rhythm early in the second as he poured in 13 of his game-high 26 points to give the Spartans a 22-19 lead at the half.
“Once you get a few fast break layups, you’re going to be set for the game,” Will said. “Those fastbreak layups help you get into a rhythm.”
Will added six more points in the third quarter, setting up a 36-33 lead heading into the final eight minutes.
Early in the fourth quarter, Broad Run once again found itself in unfamiliar territory. After leading for the first 25 minutes and 37 seconds of the game, the Spartans had relinquished the lead to the Pride.
We’re building each game towards being a more dangerous team in the playoffs. This is a stepping stone to get where we are trying to go.
—Broad Run head coach Jake Krogh
With just over seven minutes to play in the fourth, Heritage junior shooting guard Tyler Whitehouse hit a three to tie the game at 38-38. Then less than a minute later, junior point guard Blake Rorrer made a layup to put the Pride up 40-38.
That lead was short lived as on the very next Broad Run possession, sophomore center Benjamin Nketia grabbed an offensive rebound and finished the putback to even things back out at 40-40. Those 19 seconds were the only seconds Broad Run trailed in the game.
After Heritage tied the game up again at 43-43, Broad Run leaned on Will’s experience as the junior drove to the basket and finished with his left to put the Spartans up 45-43. Then on the next Broad Run possession, sophomore forward James Wasikye drove and dished a pass to Will on the perimeter, who buried a three to increase the Broad Run lead to 48-43.
“We’ve been in games like this,” Krogh said. “I keep telling them I don’t want to be in games like this, but we have. We just relied on each other to control the game.”
Despite a valiant effort from the Pride, it was too little, too late as the Spartans held on to earn the Dulles District win, 53-45.
Following some early season success, Broad Run (2-1, 4-1) will soon return key pieces of their 2020-2021 squad in Kyle Love and Arnav Thornhill—who were instrumental in the Spartans’ run to the VHSL Class 4 football state championship.
“While we’re waiting for our football guys to get back, our guys have been stepping up in their roles,” Will said. “Our two sophomores Benny and JJ have been awesome, and in the last two games, Jaylan [Alvarez] has gone off.”
Before Love and Thornhill return to action, the Spartans will travel to Lightridge for another Dulles District matchup on December 15. The Pride (1-2, 1-7) will look to get on the right track when they host Washington on December 15 in Leesburg.
“We want the guys to experience success,” Krogh said. “We’ve been talking about the February 14 date though. We’re building each game towards being a more dangerous team in the playoffs. This is a stepping stone to get where we are trying to go.”
Broad Run Stats