Prince William News
Heading into the opening of the district schedule this week, the Patriot boys varsity basketball team couldn't be much happier.
Patriot boys top Brentsville by 24
© Gainesville TimesHeading into the opening of the district schedule this week, the Patriot boys varsity basketball team couldn't be much happier.
At 6-2, the Pioneers are two games better than the 4-4 showing the squad put up through the first eight games of its inaugural year last season.
During that time, Patriot pulled off its largest win of the season last week at home, defeating neighboring Brentsville District 57-33.
Though PHS is a Group AAA squad and Brentsville is a Group AA team, what makes the clash between the two unique is that many of Patriot's upperclassmen transferred from BDHS in 2011.
Two Pioneers put up double digit efforts on the scoreboard, with Hamed Ghafoori earning 11 points and AJ Cowthran adding another 10.
Patriot played aggressive from the get-go, taking a 15-5 lead at the end of the first quarter and expanding its advantage to 28-10 by half time.
That allowed Patriot to avoid having to trap Brentsville in the second half and instead create turnovers through its standard defensive stand-up.
"What we wanted to do in the third quarter was we wanted to force some turnovers... but do it from our natural defense," said Nemerow.
Offensively, senior Terry Smith electrified the crowd with a dunk at the 2:40 mark, forcing Brentsville head coach Al Ford to call a time-out with his team trailing by 25.
"It fired us up," said Ghafoori.
Meanwhile, Ghafoori found his own stride along the perimeter, sinking three field goals in the third quarter and a 3-pointer during the final period.
"I was in the corner, so they didn't really see me," he said.
On the other side of the ball, Brentsville senior Andrew Reighhard topped his team with eight points, six of which came from two 3-pointers.
Ford noted that guard performed particularly well when shooting from the baseline.
"We like to see him come through on the fast-break transition," said Ford.
Yet what made the difference for Patriot was the strength of its bench.
"I think one of our advantages is we don't have a go-to scorer," said Patriot head coach Daniel Nemerow.
Eight of his players hit open court field goals on the night while only five Tigers did, though junior guard Christian Aldea chipped in an extra two points from the foul line.
"Their overall athleticism is an advantage," said Ford.
Patriot sophomore Isaiah Sharp contributed nine points to the Pioneers' effort, including a 3-pointer in the second quarter.
Smith collected eight points total while guard Moby Hager had seven, senior Cory Leveige put up six, junior Liban Awl scored five and sophomore Tariq Goland-Tomlinson sank a bucket of his own inside the arc during the second quarter.
For Brentsville, senior Mason Clark came in second on the team in scoring with seven points, including a triple in the first quarter. Freshman Kyle Darmstead finished right behind him at six points.
Junior forward Tre Ford also sank a fourth-quarter three for Brentsville as well as a separate field goal. Senior Nate Dufus also had five points, including a three-for-four performance from the foul line.
According to the Brentsville skipper Ford, his task as a coach is "not to have unrealistic expectations" for his players to meet.
That should be a non-issue in Nokesville.
Brentsville has not won 10 games in a season since the 2005-2006 campaign, and even then, the boys still finished below .500.
Simply put, the Tigers' district opponents have not viewed them as a legitimate threat in the post-season since they moved up to the Group AA level.
Ford, however, helped guide Battlefield to four consecutive Northwest Regional tournament berths in Group AAA play during that time before joining the Tigers as an assistant coach in 2011.
He brought along his former assistant at Battlefield, Ray Chambers, to help out with the Tigers this season.
Fortunately for Brentsville, the team's 1-6 mark doesn't technically matter much as the Evergreen District schedule does not begin until January.
It's that portion of the season that Ford said he is gearing his team toward.
In the meantime, he's putting an emphasis on the fundamentals with the hopes that his players will be able to
"Our ball-handling is still evolving," said Ford, later adding, "That is an area where we have to get" better.
What Nemerow noticed about the Tigers is that the team did not roll over in the second half even when trailing by more than 20 points.
He noted that the game ended on an offensive rebound by Brentsville, which outscored Patriot 14-10 in the fourth quarter once most of Patriot’s starters exited.
"You have to admire a team that plays hard every possession, which I'm jealous of, to be honest," said Nemerow of Brentsville.
"That is going to be our identity," said Ford, "to fight and scrap for everything."
Both teams dealt with their top team leaders out due to injury.
Patriot managed to compensate with an strong showing from Cowthran, Smith and Sharp in the guard position to make up ground lost by senior EJ Baltimore.
For Brentsville, one potential challenge is filling the gap on games missed by senior veteran Alex Pfleckl.
While some players, like Dufus, played on the team last year, the "bulk" of the Tigers' experience comes from the junior varsity level, according to Ford.
That means his team is counting on younger players to step up and is why Ford wore a happy grin after the game while reviewing Reighard's statistics despite the loss.
"This is going to earn him more playing time," said the coach.