Session I of the 12th Annual Virginia Preps Classic, one of Virginia’s most highly anticipated high school basketball events each winter gave fans plenty to be excited about.  The event featured some of the state’s most highly regarded sophomores in Landstown High School’s Donald Hand, Jr, son of the former University of Virginia star, Blue Ridge 6’8 two-sport star Malique Brown, Oscar Smith sharpshooter Kenyon Giles and Kings Fork high scoring guard Jayden Epps.  Many of the state’s top teams were also on display.  Virginia High School League Group 6A defending state champion Landstown and Virginia Independent Schools Div II state champion Blue Ridge headlined the field along with two Group 6A final four teams from a year ago in Oscar Smith and South County and Group 5A Green Run who reached the Elite 8 in the 2019 state championship tournament so the event was certainly loaded!  Here is a recap of each game:

First Colonial 47, Grafton 43.

First Colonial built a 13 point lead with 2:46 left before halftime only to see Grafton slowly chipped away.  A Max Schramel three-pointer with :33 seconds left in the 4th got Grafton to within a basket at 43-41 but Shamarr Yates scored with 12.5 seconds left to put First Colonial in front 45-41. Yates, who scored First Colonial’s last four points and six of their final eight points then sealed the deal with a pair of free throws with :09 seconds left giving the Patriots a 47-41 lead. Adrian Shaw earned player of the game honors with a 10 point, 11 rebound effort.  Shamarr Yates led First Colonial with 13 points on 4-7 shooting, 5-5 from the line.  Amanii Jackson added 11 points and four steals.  Grafton senior floor general Terry White battled through a foot injury and finished with a game-high 14 points.  Josiah Moore contributed 11 points, 12 rebounds for Grafton. 

Kellam 49, Bethel 46

Luke Hutchinson buried a three-pointer from well beyond the arc on the left-wing right in front of the Kellam bench as time expired to give the Kellam Knights a thrilling 49-46 win. The game featured a wild final 51.5 seconds.  With the game tied 46-46, Kellam spread the floor and tried to run some clock but Bethel matched up forcing the action.  Bethel’s Josh Askew rebounded a Kellam miss and the Bruins called a timeout with :46 seconds to play.  Bethel missed a layup with 12.8 left and Kellam guard Jimmie Thomas secured the rebound giving Kellam possession for the eventual game-winner.  Luke Hutchinson earned game MVP honors with a team-high 11 points off the bench for Kellam including the buzzer-beating game-winner.  In fact, Kellam got 32 points from their bench in the win!  Pharaoh Lassiter led Bethel with a game-high 15 points. 

Oscar Smith 63, Henrico 55

Henrico jumped all over Oscar Smith early in this one building a 22-12 lead at the end of the first quarter and led by as many as 12 points after a ZyEver Wingfield basket on a baseline out of bounds play with 5:55 left in the second quarter.  A pair of Traveon Brown three pointers helped Oscar Smith rally and after an Andre Bottoms layup with 1:39 left before halftime the Tigers found themselves within a single point, down 30-29! Oscar Smith caught fire in the third quarter!  Jalen Stephenson buried a corner three pointer to tie the game 32-32 with 6:10 to play in the third and then sophomore shooting star Kenyon Giles followed with back to back three pointers to give Oscar Smith a 38-32 lead with 5:31 left in the third. Andre Bottoms knocked down a short jumper before Giles’ jumper with 3:13 left in the third to give Oscar Smith a 42-39 lead!  Jeremiah Langley and Jahme Ested scored on consecutive possessions and Henrico took a 44-43 lead into the final frame but the visitors from Richmond VA went cold the rest of the way shooting just four of 10 from the floor in the fourth quarter while Oscar Smith pulled away.  Kenyon Giles and Jalen Stephenson connected from deep and Andre Bottoms dished to DJ Cheairs for a layup as the Tigers ended with a 19-8 run.  Andre Bottoms earned Player of the game honors with 14 points while dishing out nine assists.  Kenyon Giles scored 13 points, all in the second half.  Torrey Jordan and Treveon Brown added 10 points each for Oscar Smith.  Henrico got 16 points from Jeremiah Langley and 14 points from Jahme Ested in defeat.   

Cape Henry 59, Fairfax 48.

Christian Moore nailed a pair of three pointers during a 10-0 Cape Henry run midway through the second quarter as the Dolphins threatened to turn this one into a route.  Cape Henry trailed by three at the end of the first quarter but outscored Fairfax 16-5 in second quarter holding Fairfax without a field goal in the final 2:26 of the first half to lead 27-19 at the break.  Christian Moore (14 points) and Greg Melvin (10 points) accounted for 24 of the Dolphins 27 points at the half.  Cape Henry continued to roll and pushed their lead to as many as 21 points early in the fourth.  The Dolphins controlled the glass throughout outrebounding Fairfax 41 to 27 for the game with Greg Melvin accounting for 11 of those rebounds. The 6’5 sophomore finished with 18 points in addition to his rebounding heroics and earned MVP honors.  Christian Moore led the way with 22 points for Cape Henry.  Josh Abtew led Fairfax with 14 points, Daniel Mbangue added 13 in the loss. 

Norview 61, South County 44

Norview used a 9-1 run to close out the third quarter and built a 43-34 lead thanks in large part to the hot shooting of Jaylani Darden and Jahn Hines and combined for 33 of those points heading into the fourth.  The Pilots pushed their lead to as many as 17 points late in the fourth while holding previously unbeaten South County to just 4 of 12 shooting.  Jahn Hines finished with 18 points on 6 of 9 shooting and also grabbed 11 rebounds and earned player of the game honors.  Jaylani Darden scored 20 points and Jamaal Madison added 14 points in the win.  South County was led by Williams Wilson’s 15 points, Andre Speight added 12.

Blue Ridge 72, Landstown 53

Michael Gray scored 24 points and dished out 7 assists as Blue Ridge broke it open with a 15-5 run over a four and a half minute stretch ending the third and beginning the fourth quarter.  Blue Ridge led throughout but had to hold off several Landstown runs but each time the Eagles got within striking distance the defending VIS DII state champions responded.  A Donald Hand, Jr three pointer with :30 seconds left in the third cut the Blue Ridge lead to 42-39 but the Barons responded with that 15-5 spurt and never looked back.  Donald Hand, Jr did his best to keep Landstown within striking distance but the Blue Ridge depth proved too much as they got scoring from 7 of their nine players.  In addition to Michael Gray’s 24 point, 7 assist effort that earned him player of the game honors, the Barons got 14 point from William Lee and 13 points, 10 rebounds from Sasha Glushkov.  Donald Hand, Jr finished with a game high 29 points for the defending VHSL Class 6 state champion Landstown Eagles.  Kaleb Peterson added 12 points and 6 assists. 

Kings Fork 70, Green Run 64

Kings Fork led throughout and built as much as a 21 point first half lead then had to survive a furious Green Run rally!  Jayden Epps (12 points) and Quentin Livingston (10 points) helped the Bulldogs to a 36-21 halftime lead and Green Run showing little signs of life.  The Stallions began a furious rally in the final 1:58 that sent their home crowd into a frenzy.  Elijah Kennedy buried a three pointer with 1:58 left in the fourth to cut the Kings Fork lead to nine.  With 1:12 left Jacob Cooper connected from deep and the Kings Fork lead was cut to 62-55.  Green Run got to within four, 64-60 with :33 seconds left but Kings Fork sealed it at the line with free throws from Quentin Livingston and Jayden Epps.  Livingston was selected the game’s most valuable player with a 21 point. 13 rebound performance.  Jayden Epps scored 26 points and George Beale 12 for the Bulldogs.  Green Run was led by Jacob Cooper who scored 23 points.  Elijah Kennedy added 14 points and Karee Smith 10 for the Stallions. 

Next up we will feature some of the events top performers and preview Session II coming up on Saturday, January 25th at Churchland High School in Portsmouth VA.