When coach Ksaan Brown took the reins of Huguenot High School’s boys basketball team before this season, he inherited a squad of uncommon players.
The team includes Eric Rustin, a lanky 7-footer, Ivangel Pacheco Hernandez, a crafty 5-6 point guard, and Lance Monteiro, a 6-4 guard-forward hybrid who can score from just about anywhere. And don’t forget Deshawn Ridley, a 6-6 forward who scores with power inside and is a talented shot blocker.
That cast forms a fluid unit that pummeled Monacan 73-48 in the Class 4, Region B championship at the Arthur Ashe Center on Monday.
Monteiro led the team with 17 points, including three shots from behind the arc. Pacheco scored 15 points, showing off his uncanny ability to weave through the lane and score layups despite his small stature. Ridley added 14 points, primarily scoring through contact under the basket.
“We’re a nice basketball mix,” Brown said. “(Monteiro) is probably our best all-around player. He can do pretty much anything on the basketball court.
“(Ridley is) the best athlete. ... (Pacheco) actually played on the Puerto Rico junior national team, so he has a lot of experience.”
Huguenot, the region’s second seed, dominated its way through the tournament, winning by at least 15 points over 10th-seeded Chancellor and third-seeded Louisa before running past Monacan. But easy wins weren’t the story of the Falcons’ season from the start.
All four of the team’s wins before the new year came by 10 points or fewer. Then, on Jan. 10, the Falcons (16-7) lost to Monacan by 1 point.
Monteiro said the team didn’t have the cohesion it displayed on Monday earlier in the season. That’s what contributed to the losses and close wins.
The Falcons started to jell after the players began hanging out off the court, Monteiro said.
“Going to movies, games, everything. We just started bonding a lot,” he said.
As the players grew closer, the wins became bigger. Since its loss to the Chiefs (15-9) in early January, Huguenot has gone 9-4, and all nine wins came with at least a 13-point margin. Three losses came to top-five teams in the Times-Dispatch poll, and the other to James River, which won the Class 6, Region B title.
Now Huguenot will have its shot at a Class 4 state title, and it will have a home game in the first round. The Falcons will host Deep Creek at the Arthur Ashe Center in the quarterfinals. Monacan plays Lake Taylor at Norview High School on Friday.
Brown said he is confident his team can go deep into the tournament.
Monteiro agrees. He made it clear that Pacheco will get the same opportunities on offense at 5-6 as Rustin will at 7-foot, and that the players’ new bond can carry them far.
Monacan girls capture region championship again
Monacan’s girls team won a region title for the third straight season with its 58-44 victory over Eastern View in the Class 4, Region B championship.
The Chiefs (18-7) were led by Ajah Alexander’s 16 points, 15 rebounds and five blocks.
Terese Greene led Eastern View with 18.
Monacan will face Kings Fork at 7 p.m. Friday at Midlothian in the state tournament’s first round.