The athletics department of Petersburg High School sure has stayed busy these past two weeks. After covering the three-day ‘Tri-City Holiday Classic’ last week, I once again made my way down to the school yesterday for another hosted event: the annual ‘William W. Lawson Jr. Classic.’ Only a one-day event, a good mix of programs from mostly the 804 and 757 area codes, along with two teams from the 434 and 703, all took part in the day’s action. Four of the twelve teams also participated in the ‘Tri-City’ tournament as well.
Thomas Jefferson HS – 76
Bayside HS – 45
Colonial Beach HS – 92
Brunswick – 91
Meadowbrook HS – 70
Freedom HS – 45
John Marshall HS – 77
Lake Taylor HS – 66
Hopewell HS – 50
Booker T. Washington HS – 41
Petersburg – 74
Highland Springs – 57
Some Team/Game Notes
- After Thomas Jefferson’s blowout victory against Bayside, I tweeted out that the Vikings’ starting backcourt of Teon Tiller ’19 and Mohammed Mahadi ’20 have steadily proved themselves as one of the best defensive backcourts in the 804. I stand by that… heck, they may be THE best defending duo. I’ve seen Thomas Jefferson play four different games in the last two weeks; combining this event and the ‘Tri-City Classic.’ Each time the group takes the floor, they end up collecting an abundance of steals, in a quicker and more effective way than any other team I’ve come across thus far. This mainly results from the efforts of Tiller and Mahadi… those two initiate it all and undoubtedly have some serious joy in doing so. They shine on offense too, no question, but can really change a game with their defensive instincts.
- Game 2, featuring Colonial Beach against Brunswick, definitely earned my pick as the best game of the day. For starters, it went all the way down to a final stretch that resulted in the Colonial Beach Drifters winning on a buzzer-beating game winner. The two teams matched up well against each other; it was more of a back-and-forth game offensively, especially during the opening and final quarters. With that being said, obviously both programs can improve on their team defense… each allowed over 90 points scored; the two highest point totals of the day. Still, team chemistry of both groups looked good and I didn’t really see a hint of any unselfishness.
- I saw Meadowbrook compete several times throughout the preseason in their hosted fall league and other scrimmages, yet Saturday involved my first time watching them play this high school season. The potential production of their roster depth first caught my eye back in September and I saw that same facet as one that especially makes the Monarchs a difficult team to contain. They used the method of subbing ‘5 in, 5 out,’ being the only team to do so. It didn’t matter which one of the groups took the floor; the energy never diminished and Meadowbrook truly seized control in the second half to put the Freedom Eagles away with ease.
- When comparing them to their preseason form, John Marshall looks a little different now with more size available on the roster. Still, their mentality hasn’t changed in the least bit. Most audiences in the Richmond area likely acknowledge by now that the Justices have a squad full of dogs; they won’t back down to anyone, regardless of the ranking or reputation. In their matchup against Lake Taylor, they found themselves facing a team that wouldn’t go away, obviously making it a goal to keep the game relatively close. However, John Marshall never showed any signs of getting rattled. Their players always seem to hold a confidence that they’re going to walk away with a win, no matter the circumstances. Along with their talent, it’s no question why they keep finding success.
- Booker T. Washington did a solid job of slowing Hopewell down from playing at the pace they wanted to early on. They don’t have a lot height, but the Mighty Bookers showed a few different zone looks and stood out the most on the offensive rebounding end. Their players, most notably Anthony Hicks ’20, came up with more second-chance opportunities than I expected them to gain. Going up against the taller Hopewell team, however, it proved difficult to score against the Blue Devils’ length. The Bookers have some hustle and clear heart… these two intermingled intangibles should serve as their most important traits as they keep pushing for more success.
- I mentioned this in my recap of the ‘Tri-City Classic’ last week but must reiterate it again: Petersburg HS needs more attention! Seriously, folks shouldn’t sleep on this team; they’ve shown a complete package in the four games I’ve seen them play. Solid size, paint points, shooting, defense, grit, you name it. This may be the most slept-on team in the region. Standing at a 10-2 record currently, I know we still have a way to go until getting to this point, but I can’t wait to see what they do in the postseason.
My Seven Standouts of Saturday
Mohammed Mahadi ’20 – Thomas Jefferson: I already lauded about his defense earlier, so that’s out of the way. On the scoring end, Mahadi has some of the best body control and finishing touch on the Vikings’ roster. Standing at 5’10,” his hang time looked ridiculous, evident by his exceptional vertical leap, which helped him draw fouls in his attempts at the rim. He also showed more comfort this week in shooting the rock from distance, as he knocked down a couple of spot-up triples. I’d classify him as an attacker at heart, but, if Mahadi can keep defenders honest by playing him as a guy who can both shoot and drive it, they will really have a handful trying to stop the guard. One of the most athletic players on the floor Saturday.
Aneis Lyons ’19 – Colonial Beach: The senior scoring guard came in the clutch with that aforementioned buzzer-beating game winner in the Drifters’ thrilling victory. While his sharpshooting back-court mate, Jace Jett ’21, enjoyed success in the first two quarters, Lyons took over in the second half. Playing as a lefty, he did a nice job of going baseline and switching hands to complete floaters with his right. I think that particular move threw off Brunswick’s defenders quite a bit. He showed a smooth outside shot in knocking down a few from the wing but benefitted the most in transition, where he picked up more fouls than any other Drifter. This all mainly arrived in the second half. I’m glad he took that final shot… he looked as if he wanted to make an unselfish play but recognized how Jett wasn’t open. A clutch performance that had Lyons in all smiles as he departed from the court.
Reginald Walker ’21 – Brunswick: At only about 5’7,” Walker doesn’t have a lot of size, but clearly stood as the best three-point shooter in all of Saturday’s games. The young sophomore put on an incredible display; he pretty much singlehandedly brought the Bulldogs back in the game with his shooting. At one point, he swished two AND-1 three-pointers in a row. He only needed an inch of space to get his shot off… once it left his fingers, Colonial Beach started to realize they were in trouble. In transition, Walker also threw some nice bounce passes to his cutting teammates at times. It appears that he’s still working to become a true floor general; understandable at his age. Right now, however, shooting the ball definitely suits him best.
Zyrail Mitchell ’20 – Lake Taylor: The lengthy 6’2” wing took over for most of Lake Taylor’s offense, especially in the first half. I liked how Mitchell used his handle to set up defenders and got them to bite several times with his hesitation. Once he got an opening, he only needed about 1-2 dribbles to extend toward the rim. His finishing package has a lot of smoothness and creativity, as he used several spins and reverse layups to get points. Mitchell’s shot looked a bit streaky; he showed no issues getting it off though so that’s the first step. Personally, I feel he used up a lot of his energy in the first half, as he looked more fatigued and distant on offense during the latter portion of the game. I’m sure he can fix this… the Titans honestly will need him to, considering he’s one of their more talented scorers.
Roosevelt Wheeler ’21 – John Marshall: After he spent the first part of this season on the sideline due to a preseason injury, I found satisfaction in watching a healthy Wheeler produce in John Marshall’s win. I stated earlier how the Justices look taller now… this honestly is all due to Wheeler; it never hurts to have a 6’11” forward return back to your lineup. The young big fella didn’t show any uncertainty; he started to impact the game greatly as soon as he took the floor. John Marshall has a slew of talented guards but Wheeler’s presence on both ends makes them an even bigger threat now. He has strength, patience, focus, and does whatever the team asks of him. What coaching staff wouldn’t want that type of forward in their program? Wheeler finished with 12 points, five rebounds, and three blocks against Lake Taylor.
Izeah Parker ’19 – Hopewell: The 6’7” Coppin State signee didn’t score a ton of points in his team’s victory, but he nonetheless had one of the best defensive presences from a forward I saw all afternoon/evening. Parker’s prowess on that end is what gives him the potential to have a stellar career at the next level; fans of the Coppin State Eagles should have excitement about him arriving to campus next semester. Whenever it seemed like Booker T. Washington had a chance to score around the rim, Parker either changed up the shot attempt or threw it out of bounds. Stats show that he only had two blocks… it felt like he swatted away many more than that. Nevertheless, his reputation as a paint protector showed its worth early into contest; Booker T. only scored 41 total points. His court vision also stood out; he found Hopewell teammates underneath the rim for finishes often. Many talk about his defense, rebounding, and touch, but I feel his passing ability needs some more recognition as well.
Nayson Massenburg ‘19 – Petersburg: A team that fuels off of their crowd, the Crimson Wave stretched their lead to double-digits after more of a closely-played first quarter in the night cap versus Highland Springs. If there was any hope that the Springers could make a second half comeback, Massenburg put all feelings away with his aggressive approach once the third quarter began. He’s a 5’11” combo guard who competed just as hard as any other player on the team and gave Highland Springs all sorts of trouble with his talented way of getting a bucket on his own. In the fourth quarter, Massenburg used his strength well to draw fouls, which had iced the game by that point. Petersburg has a unit full of grit and it all starts with their lead guard’s toughness.
Petersburg, you’re always great when it comes to the hospitality! 2019’s starting off on the right foot!