After the girls championship game had cleared, the gym started to see even more of a shift in its spectator capacity. I mean, who could blame people for wanting to come through and potentially check out the best game of the postseason in the 804? Held at Hermitage High School (Henrico, VA), the gym has plenty of seating availability, yet it got to near standing-room only as the championship matchup of L.C. Bird High School (Chesterfield, VA) and Varina High School (Henrico, VA) ticked down closer and closer to tip-off. It also happened to be the third meeting of the season between both teams, as the series remained tied. By the end of the evening, however, Varina resulted as the superior program, as they headed home with a 53-43 win, the championship trophy, and bragging rights.
Varina – 53
L.C. Bird – 43
Some Game/Team Notes
- The majority of the first half consisted of all defense by both teams. After the first eight minutes, L.C. Bird had five points to Varina’s four. By the end of the half, the score had tied up at 20. There’s no denying that the teams knew how to play each other very well, which led to stagnant offense early on. I’ve noted before how the defense of both teams impresses nearly equal to their overall feel for scoring the ball.
- It happened late in the second quarter when both teams started to find more of a groove in their offense. This led to several back-and-forth long distance shots taken. Varina started off catching fire before L.C. Bird senior guard Corbin Slayton ’19 finished things out for at the half when he hit a long trey ball from the left wing to tie up the score. These two team are comparable not only on the defensive end, but also as a bunch who can get seriously hot from the perimeter in a matter of seconds.
- I’m still trying to completely figure Varina out, but it just seems to me that they have more of that ‘it factor,’ compared to most other teams I’ve seen thus far. That comment might confuse some, so let me explain. Varina’s natural feel for the game, confidence, and how they approach business just all combines greatly and looks more dominant than that of a usual team; they’re in that elite status. No matter the situation, the Blue Devils know how to maintain their cool and never budge an inch if they find themselves in a pickle. Honestly, they haven’t had to worry about this situation due to blowing out most of the teams they face. One thing that intrigues me the most about Varina pertains to how they rarely substitute; they have a 7-man rotation at the most. Still, it just goes to show the true value of that core group.
- Similar to Varina, L.C. Bird also doesn’t use much depth on their roster, relying on an exceptional starting five. One thing I’ll note about a special facet of the Skyhawks’ group is how they have several shooting threats, a few more than Varina does. With L.C. Bird’s unselfish sharing of the ball and feel for each other’s tendencies, they can definitely harm teams with their outside game. One player can get hot for a stretch, before he cools off to let another teammate take over.
Friday Night’s Standouts
Kenard Richardson ’20 – Varina: The 6’4” wing didn’t have to do too much in his team’s blowout win during Tuesday night’s semifinals. Last night, however, Richardson had his high motor on full display as he bullied his way into the paint for both close finishes and trips to the free-throw line. He gives opponents a handful as a fairly stocky guy who moves lightly on his feet, allowing him to sneakily blow past defenders for paint touches. Once Richardson draws fouls, which he does time after time again, he has a nice soft touch on his release to complete the play. On such a talented team, he’s another guy who tends to get overlooked at times, even as the Blue Devils’ third leading scorer at over 12 points a game. One would just completely have to had not pay attention in order to overlook Richardson in the title game though; he came out ready to go right from the jump.
Lance Monteiro ’19 – L.C. Bird: Monteiro had a good week in stepping up more as a go-to scorer for the Skyhawks. He doesn’t have to score 20+ or anything like that on a nightly-basis, yet showed he’s more than capable of creating and knocking down his own shot whenever his team’s in need of a bucket. I like the smooth play of the lanky 6’4” senior, who plays pretty much both as a guard and wing. He used his length well to score in transition, while also showing comfort to shoot either off of the bounce or as a spot-up guy. Monteiro’s natural feel for the game definitely looks next-level… I strongly feel he’s an unsigned senior who could do well at the next-level in any programs willing to give him a chance.
Tyrese Jenkins ’19 – Varina: After having the best performance on Tuesday evening with a performance of 23 points and 15 rebounds, the 5B Regional Player of the Year continued to prove his worth by making all sorts of plays for Varina in the title game. By now, I’m sold that Jenkins is his team’s best all-around player. He can contribute in several areas: scoring, facilitating, posting up, drawing fouls, and especially rebounding. People may not realize his impact on the glass until watching him play up close. In addition, I definitely like his footwork and smooth patience that causes others to bite on some of his moves. He’s a unique player… reminds me of Kyle Anderson in a way, as a guy who never gets sped up.
Mack Burgett ’19 – L.C. Bird: Burgett continues to embrace any role that’s called upon him in order to give the Skywhawks their best chances of winning. He again played in the post for every possession while out there on the court, doing a great job of protecting the interior. At 6’7,” Burgett crashes the rim hard consistently and usually ends up winning 50-50 balls that lead to second-chance points. He has a nice touch around the basket that allows him to make quick hook shots inside the paint without any issues. As I’ve said in the past, he’s definitely more of a stretch-4 at heart, but his toughness, relentlessness, and size fuses to make him the best interior threat for L.C. Bird currently. They need a guy to relish that position and Burgett has answered all season long.
AJ Williams ’21 – Varina: The star sophomore helped Varina get more into the scoring flow when he knocked down three triples in a row during the second quarter. I tweeted during that stretch how it felt like everyone in the audience held their breath whenever he got open with the ball. You simply cannot afford to give Williams any possible space whenever he’s out there on the perimeter. He sets his feet just as quick as any other shooters I’ve seen in the area, while also knowing how to hunt down his shots off-ball. Everybody in the Blue Devils’ lineup can easily put the ball in the basket, but nobody heats up quite like him. Once he’s hot, he starts cooking. As a freshman last season, Williams enjoyed several moments in the state tournament, saving his best for the title game. Stayed tuned for what he has in his bag during this year’s run.
Be sure to also check out my recap on the VHSL 5B Regional Girls Championship from Friday night as well!; L.C. Bird HS vs. Highland Springs HS (2/22/19).