The 2020 Occoquan Region 6C Champion South County Stallions. [MARCUS HELTON]
South County 2020 guard Xa'Vian Myles. [MARCUS HELTON]
FAIRFAX, VA - Coming into their fourth meeting in just over a month, familiarity definitely wasn’t an issue for South County (Va.) and Lake Braddock (Va.).
The Stallions still had a few tricks up their sleeve, however, and used their defensive pressure to put Lake Braddock in an early hole and cruise to an 83-62 victory In the Occoquan Region 6C Championship at Fairfax High School on February 29.
“I think we caught them off guard when we started out in the press,” South County 2020 wing Will Wilson said. “I don’t think they were expecting us to press up like we did, but I’m glad we did.”
2020 guard Xa’Vian Myles scored 22 points to lead the Stallions, who got 16 apiece from 2021 forward Trenton Picott and 2021 guard Andre Speight, as well as 10 each from Wilson and 2020 guard Cody Kellem.
2022 forward David Solomon had a game-high 25 points for the Bruins, who got 19 from 2023 wing Jamie Kaiser and 10 from 2020 forward Xavier Dargue.
Both teams were already guaranteed spots in this week’s Virginia 6A state tournament, and will open with a pair of local matchups on Friday. South County will face Region D Runner-Up Washington-Liberty at Robinson Secondary at 8 pm, while Lake Braddock will play Region D Champion Centreville at Westfield High at 8 pm. (Potomac is on the other side of the bracket, which features five Northern Virginia teams in the 8-team field.) There is a possibility that South County and Lake Braddock could meet for a fifth time - in the state championship game in Richmond on March 14.
“It really helps us boost our confidence for the next game that we have,” Wilson said of Saturday’s win. “I feel like it's very important that we won this game, and we came out hard and blew them out so that gives us the edge for the next couple of games, knowing that we can make it all the way.”
The Stallions and Bruins first played this season on January 24. South County swept the regular-season series, but lost to Lake Braddock 63-61 in the Patriot District title game on February 21.
On Saturday, South County led 17-13 after one quarter and slowly extended its advantage as Lake Braddock struggled to get early 3-point looks to fall.
“The key tonight was in the zone just moving the ball, cutting through and getting to the middle,” Wilson said. “When you get into the middle the zone breaks down, so once we had the lead we just made sure we held the ball so then they would have to come out the zone and play how we wanted them to play, which is fast-paced and uptempo. And then once they came out the zone, we pretty much controlled the game from there.”
Lake Braddock’s Kaiser beat the halftime buzzer with a floater to cut the South County lead to 35-26, but the Bruins never truly threatened after that. The Stallions led 59-44 after three quarters.
“Once we got out to a lead, we didn’t know which way they were going to go with it,” South County coach Mike Robinson said of Lake Braddock. “Were they going to continue to sit in that zone? If they were, I was going to pull them out of it to speed them up again. And we went to a 2-2-1 just to speed them up offensively. That was the key of us, and our composure - the seniors showed leadership.”
Myles was named Tournament MVP, while Kellem, Kaiser and Solomon were named to the All-Tournament Team along with Hayfield’s Daniel Peterson and TC Williams’ Tekao Carpenter.
Now, South County is hoping that Saturday’s win serves as a precursor to another title run. The Stallions won the regional title in 2018 and went on to win a state championship.
“Last year we went in [to states] with a loss,” Robinson said. “The year before we went in with a win, and we didn’t want history to repeat itself. This is a senior-laden team, and they have experience and they’ve been through it. We have five or six guys that have been on a state championship, so I wasn’t worried about us not being ready - I knew they were ready this morning. It's good that we guys like Andre Speight, Will Wilson, Trent and those guys don't make First Team All-Tournament. That just lets you know how good we are and how underrated the other guys are.”