TOP FIVE BOYS TEAMS
1. John Marshall
Regular season record: 15-6
Best win: The Justices beat then-No. 1 Trinity Episcopal 67-62 on Feb. 3 to claim the top spot in the Times-Dispatch Top 10.
Worst losses: All of John Marshall’s losses came to teams outside of the Richmond area, and most came to out-of-state teams in big tournaments.
Key players: Isaiah Todd, one of the top sophomore recruits in the nation, is the catalyst for the Justices. The 6-foot-10 star averages 19.2 points. Demarr McRae adds 16.2 points per game, and Levar Allen and Eljah Seward both score about 10 each game.
Biggest region threat: George Wythe got the top seed in the Class 3, Region B tournament because it lost fewer games. The second-seeded Justices are still the favorites to top the Bulldogs.
2. Trinity Episcopal
Regular season record: 24-3
Best win: The Titans beat No. 3 Varina on Dec. 19 in the Times-Dispatch Invitational Tournament final.
Worst losses: Much like John Marshall, the Titans don’t have many Richmond-area losses. They lost twice in high-profile out-of-town games and to John Marshall.
Key players: Armando Bacot (6-foot-9), Jason Wade (6-4) and Henry Coleman (6-8) run the show for the Titans. Bacot is one of the top junior recruits in the country and averages 23.7 points, second in the area. Wade is an Old Dominion pledge with 18.7 points per game, and Coleman is a sophomore with offers from LSU and VCU who averages 17.3 points.
Biggest region threat: The Titans hold the top seed in the Prep League tournament and will be challenged primarily by Collegiate, the second seed and No. 8 in the T-D Top 10. Trinity has beaten the Cougars by at least 15 points twice this season.
Regular season record: 20-2
Best wins: The Blue Devils blew out No. 9 Henrico 71-49 on Feb. 9. They have also handily beaten Armstrong twice.
Worst loss: Varina’s only area loss came to Trinity Episcopal in the TDIT, and that game may have actually helped the Blue Devils’ resume because it was such a close loss.
Key players: Tyrese Jenkins, a 6-6 junior, and Anthony Williams, a 6-1 freshman, are the Blue Devils’ top weapons. They each average about 14 points per game. Kenard Richardson has shown an ability to lead the offense at times.
Biggest region threat: L.C. Bird, ranked No. 6 in the T-D Top 10, earned the top seed in the Class 5, Region B tournament, relegating Varina to the second seed. The Blue Devils will need a string of excellent basketball to win a region title, especially considering they likely will face No. 7 Douglas Freeman if they reach the semifinals.
Regular season record: 18-3
Best wins: Back to back wins over Petersburg, which has a few talented scorers, on Jan. 13 and 16 were as good as it got for the Blue Devils. They played only one team currently ranked in the T-D Top 10 (lost to Trinity Episcopal 75-55).
Worst loss: The Blue Devils lost 66-61 to Highland Springs on Dec. 19.
Key players: Freshman guard Elvin Edmonds has developed into the Blue Devils’ floor general and scoring leader, averaging 18.3 points. Faizohn Taylor, a 6-foot senior, helps him out by adding 17 points per game.
Biggest region threat: Hopewell’s path to a Class 3, Region A crown will require wins over unfamiliar teams from outside of the Richmond area. The Blue Devils hold the top seed, but will be challenged by second-seeded Phoebus, third-seeded Park View and fourth-seeded Tabb.
5. George Wythe
Regular season record: 18-2
Best win: The Bulldogs overcame a 6-point halftime deficit against No. 6 L.C. Bird to win 82-72 on Jan. 29.
Worst loss: A 15-point loss to Highland Springs on Dec. 15 was the worst performance of the Bulldogs’ season.
Key players: The Bulldogs have no shortage of scoring threats. Jarec Brown (19.9 ppg) and Ikechi Chantilou (19.3 ppg) give Wythe the only duo of 19-point scorers in the area. Darrell Purdie adds 15.2 points per game and Kevin Hubbard contributes about 10 more.
Biggest region threat: Though the Bulldogs earned the top seed in the Class 3, Region B tourney, John Marshall is the clear favorite to take the title. Wythe will face a major challenge in the Justices.
TOP FIVE GIRLS TEAMS
1. Trinity Episcopal
Regular season record: 22-1
Best wins: A 43-42 win over St. Anne’s-Belfield established the Titans as a legitimate LIS contender. A 59-51 win over No. 2 Highland Springs in the TDIT final solidified their No. 1 ranking in the area.
Worst loss: The Titans’ only loss came to St. Anne’s-Belfield 62-53, two weeks after the Titans won the first matchup.
Key players: The Titans rely on a big three for most of their scoring. Elaina Chapman leads the way with 19.8 points per game, Angel Burgos averages 18.1 points as the point guard and Jaelyn Harris averages 11.5.
Biggest region threat: St. Anne’s-Belfield was given the top seed in the LIS tournament, with Trinity second. Since the teams split their games this season, an LIS championship game rematch would come with plenty of intrigue.
2. Highland Springs
Regular season record: 18-3
Best wins: The Springers have beaten No. 4 L.C. Bird 50-45, No. 5 Cosby 65-63 and No. 7 Varina twice. They also beat Lake Taylor, a strong team from Norfolk, 67-65 in overtime.
Worst loss: The Springers struggled mightily against St. Frances Academy, a team from Baltimore. They scored just 11 first-half points and 30 total, their lowest scoring output of the season.
Key players: Freshman point guard Jada Walker is the Springers’ go-to player. She averages 19.3 points per game, good for second in the area among public school players. Jalen Gathers adds 10.3 points per game, and Paris McBride’s recent return from injury should give the Springers a boost.
Biggest region threat: L.C. Bird earned the second seed in the Class 5, Region B tournament. If the top-seeded Springers take care of business in the first few rounds, they could meet the Skyhawks in the final.
Regular season record: 19-1
Best win: The Blue Devils have played two particularly big games this season, both in the TDIT. A 59-58 win over No. 5 Cosby was the team’s best of the year.
Worst loss: Hopewell’s only loss came to No. 1 Trinity Episcopal in the TDIT, 49-39.
Key players: Courtney Scott leads the Blue Devils offensively, averaging 16.4 points. Tyjana Simmons complements Scott’s scoring with 11.8 points per game.
Biggest region threat: Most of second-seeded Hopewell’s best competition in the Class 3, Region A tournament is from outside the Richmond area. The best teams include top seed Tabb, No. 3 I.C. Norcom and No. 4 Phoebus.
4. L.C. Bird
Regular season record: 16-5
Best win: L.C. Bird has five wins over T-D Top 10 teams, but the best came over Cosby the week after the Skyhawks lost the first matchup. They won the second time around 49-43.
Worst loss: The Skyhawks suffered a blowout 73-47 loss to No. 5 Cosby on Jan. 25.
Key players: Jaden Watkins is the team’s leader as the point guard, scoring 16.3 point per game. Mya Coleman is the Skyhawks’ other main weapon with 13.1 points per game.
Biggest region threat: Highland Springs holds the top seed in the Class 5, Region B tournament. The Springers beat the Skyhawks, which have the second seed, 50-45 on Feb. 5.
Regular season record: 18-4
Best win: The Titans’ best win was No. 4 L.C. Bird’s worst loss. Cosby won 73-47 on Jan. 25.
Worst loss: No. 10 James River (13-7) defeated the Titans 50-45 on Jan. 10. Cosby’s other losses all came to teams ranked sixth or higher in the T-D Top 10.
Key players: Nia Covington and Charme Lilly have been a 1-2 punch for the Titans. Lilly averages 14.9 points per game and Covington scores 14.6 per game.
Biggest region threat: James River earned the second seed in the Class 6, Region B tournament and has already beaten Cosby. The Titans are the top seed.
BOYS PLAYERS TO WATCH
Isaiah Todd, John Marshall: The 6-foot-10 forward is considered one of the top recruits in the sophomore class. Averaging 19.2 points, Todd has a versatile game with deep range from the perimeter.
Armando Bacot, Trinity Episcopal: The 6-foot-10 forward is considered one of the top recruits in the junior class. A powerful player inside, he’s averaging 23.7 points.
Jarec Brown, George Wythe: Brown, who’s 6-4, can handle the ball, get to the basket and rebound. The senior is averaging 19.9 points and 12.3 rebounds.
Tyrese Jenkins, Varina: At 6-6, Jenkins is a matchup problem. He’s comfortable inside or knocking down 3-pointers. The junior is averaging 14.1 points.
Elvin Edmonds IV, Hopewell: If you like 3-pointers, enjoy the game of Edmonds. The freshman made 10 treys in a game. He’s averaging 18.3 points.
GIRLS PLAYERS TO WATCH
Jada Boyd, Appomattox region GS: The 6-2 junior set VHSL records for points (69) and rebounds (33) in a game. She scored 66 in another game. Boyd is averaging 35.6 points, which is on pace to set the VHSL record for scoring average in a season.
Samantha Brunelle, William Monroe (Stanardsville): Brunelle, who’s 6-2, is ranked as the top junior recruit in the country by ESPN.com. A member of the USA U16 national team last year, she’s averaging 32 points and 18 rebounds. William Monroe is the top seed in Class 3, Region B.
Jada Walker, Highland Springs: A freshman on a team with a lot of freshmen, Walker already has established herself as a player to follow. The guard has offers from many of the country’s best college programs. Walker is averaging 19.3 points.
Elaina Chapman, Trinity Episcopal: Chapman is tough to handle around the basket. The junior, who has Division I offers, is averaging 19.8 points.
Jaden Watkins, L.C. Bird/Charme Lilly, Cosby: Both guards can impact a game passing or scoring. Watkins, a junior, is averaging 16.3 points. Lilly, a senior, is averaging 14.9 points.
Trinity Episcopal, the No. 2 team in the T-D Top 10, is the heavy favorite to win this tournament. Its biggest challenge will come from second-seeded Collegiate, but the Titans have already beaten the Cougars twice this season. St. Christopher’s will host St. Anne’s-Belfield in the first round, led by the area’s top scorer in Gibson Jimerson (26.2 ppg).
Class 6, Region B
Led by JaLeel Lang (12 ppg), James River earned the top seed and is the favorite to win. Thomas Dale holds the No. 3 seed but doesn’t have any real stars to rely on. Cosby comes in at No. 6 to face Dale, but the Titans lack a bonafide offensive threat as well. Manchester got the No. 7 seed but with Collin Harding’s ability to score (20.8 ppg), the Lancers could make a run. Clover Hill rounds out the region with the eighth seed.
Class 5, Region B
This region will generate the best local pairings of any of the region brackets. Top-seeded L.C. Bird will host No. 8 Highland Springs in the first round. The Skyhawks are deep with Jamon Battle (13.4 ppg), Raheem Jenkins (12.9 ppg) and Corbin Slayton (12.8 ppg) and could win the region. Varina, the No. 2 seed, will likely end up in the championship game if Tyrese Jenkins and Anthony Williams can produce on offense.
Third-seeded Douglas Freeman hasn’t faced Varina or Bird but could win the tourney if Michael Fortune (13.1 ppg) and Muktar Abdulkadir (11.1 ppg) have particularly strong outings. Mills Godwin is the No. 4 seed and will host No. 5 Meadowbrook on Monday, a game that could depend on how Godwin’s Bradley Thomasson (14.7 ppg) and Meadowbrook’s Javion Patterson (14.4 ppg) perform.
Rounding out the bracket are No. 6 Henrico, led by Timon Jones (17.5 ppg), and No. 7 Prince George, which needs Christian Chappell (19.3 ppg) to do something special.
Class 4, Region B
Huguenot holds the No. 2 seed, the highest among local teams in this region. The Falcons rely on Deshawn Ridley (19.9 ppg) and Lance Monteiro (12.5 ppg) for their scoring, and they’ll likely need it to beat top-seeded Caroline. Monacan holds the fourth seed and will hope for big nights from Nystl Wilson (16.4 ppg) and Myles Loving (12.4 ppg) during the tournament. The top four seeds get a bye.
Monday’s first round features Midlothian against Powhatan, Dinwiddie against Chancellor and Patrick Henry at Eastern View. Some players worth watching include Dinwiddie’s ClaTre Reese (21.8 ppg) and Antwan Jarrett (16.3 ppg), Patrick Henry’s Devyn Coles (19.6 ppg), Powhatan’s Devin Van Netter (17.8 ppg) and Midlothian’s Henry Davis (14.3 ppg). Hanover won a play-in game Friday over King George 76-72 and will travel to Courtland Monday.
Class 3, Region A
Hopewell is the team to beat in this region. Freshman guard Elvin Edmonds and senior Faizohn Taylor will steer the Blue Devils’ ship. The next highest local seed is No. 5 Petersburg, which boasts one of the area’s best scorers in D'Monte Brown (19.8 ppg). Colonial Heights and New Kent are the No. 11 and 12 seeds, but neither has a strong chance of making it out of the first round.
Class 3, Region B
George Wythe is the top seed, but No. 2 John Marshall is the clear favorite. The Justices beat William Monroe 104-34 in Friday’s first round, and the Bulldogs cruised past Brenstville 66-39. Armstrong owns the fifth seed and beat fourth-seeded James Monroe 75-62 on Friday. Wythe and Armstrong will face off Tuesday in the semifinals, with the winner likely to have a game against JM in the final.
Class 2, Region A
Goochland owns the top seed and earned a bye after finishing the regular season 17-4. Maggie Walker GS is the fourth seed and narrowly won 43-42 against Nandua on Friday night in the first round. No. 7 Amelia played Randolph-Henry on Friday and lost 75-38.
League of Independent Schools
St. Anne’s-Belfield earned the top seed over Trinity Episcopal, the No. 1 team in the T-D Top 10. The teams split their two games this season and are likely to end up playing a third time in the tournament final. Both teams already made it out of Friday’s first round, with Trinity beating St. Margaret’s 60-33 and STAB winning over Covenant. Fourth-seeded St. Catherine’s won its first-round game over Saint Gertrude 67-59, and third-seeded Collegiate got a 49-28 win over Veritas.
Class 6, Region B
Cosby has the top seed and should cruise into the final on the backs of Nia Covington and Charme Lilly. Its biggest competition will come from James River, which has been really good at times this season but inconsistent. Thomas Dale and Manchester hold the fourth and sixth seeds, and neither is likely to make it to the final.
Class 5, Region B
Highland Springs and L.C. Bird, the top two seeds in that order, should be duking it out for the region crown. The battle between Springer point guard Jada Walker (19.3 ppg) and Skyhawk point guard Jaden Watkins (16.3 ppg) will be one to watch if the teams meet.
Challenging those two for the title will be No. 3 seed Mills Godwin, which will host Glen Allen in the first round, and No. 4 seed Varina, which could be tested by No. 5 seed Matoaca in the first round. Matoaca’s Ayanna Scarborough (15.8 ppg) and Gray Nadja (12.4 ppg) could put together a run for the Warriors.
Class 4, Region B
Monacan has the second seed and is the best local team in this region. The Chiefs have been rebuilding after losing Megan Walker and Co., but they could win the crown. Hanover has the fourth seed and gets a first-round bye. Powhatan and Midlothian both have home games in the first round, while Dinwiddie, Huguenot and Patrick Henry will all be fighting for road wins to advance to the second round. Monacan’s Jordan Hodges (14.6 ppg), Midlothian’s Nia Lloyd (13.7 ppg) and Hanover’s Jordan Davis (13.4 ppg) are all worth keeping an eye on.
Class 3, Region A
Hopewell has the second seed behind Tabb, but the Blue Devils are a serious threat to win this region. With Courtney Scott (16.4 ppg) leading the way, Hopewell has an advantage in the quarterfinals over New Kent, which beat Lakeland 66-28 Friday. Petersburg won 47-32 over Colonial Heights in the first round, but is a long shot to beat Tabb in the second round.
Class 3, Region B
Second-seeded Armstrong got a 54-45 win over John Marshall in the first round and could make it to the final. But the Wildcats will probably find William Monroe and Samantha Brunelle, one of the top junior recruits in the country, waiting for them there. William Monroe beat Thomas Jefferson in the first round.
Class 2, Region
In the midst of its best season in school history, Maggie Walker GS claimed the top seed in the region and earned a bye. The third seed is Goochland (19-5), which won the James River District tournament and beat sixth seed King William in the first round. The fourth seed is Amelia.
Class 1, Region
Led by the area’s top scorer in Jada Boyd (35.6 ppg), Appomattox Regional GS will travel to Cumberland on Monday fighting to extend its season and Boyd’s record year during which she might break the Virginia High School League record for scoring average.
SKIPPING A STEP?
With re-alignment this year in the Virginia High School League, the playoffs now begin with the region tournaments. Some districts, including the James River District (Goochland, Amelia, King William), still hold district tournaments.
The first-round state tournament pairings for boys and girls in all classifications have the champ and runner-up from Region B meeting their counterparts in Region A. Regions C and D will meet in the opposite bracket.