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Starting out front

Starting out front

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Last year, Western Albemarle’s girls basketball team was a wire-to-wire regular season Jefferson District champion. The Warriors, with a strong senior class, were the odds-on favorite to win the JD and they delivered with an unbeaten run through the slate.

This year, the revamped Jefferson District appears to be totally wide open.

Western Albemarle beat Fluvanna County handily last week and Monticello during the Holiday Tournament. Then Charlottesville beat Western Friday.

But the Black Knights had a losing record just a few games ago and got blown out by William Monroe earlier this season. Of course, they also edged out the Dragons just a few weeks before that. They’ve been inconsistent according to coach Dee Mitchelson, but on Friday they finally strung together a complete game against the Warriors.

Oh and Powhatan, the league’s newest addition, just opened Jefferson District play with a blowout victory over Louisa County to move to 7-1 overall.

This week will shed some light on Powhatan — they take on Monticello at the Mustangs’ house Tuesday. And Charlottesville hits the road to take on a Fluvanna team that struggled to score points against defensive-minded Western.

But it’s a long season and if the first few games are any indication, the Jefferson District race will go down to the wire and a lot of squads will have a say in who’s going to be on top come February. 

Of course on the boys side, for the last few seasons the race has been Charlottesville and Western or (most recently) Fluvanna playing top dogs in the JD. Year-in, year-out, the Black Knights are always a favorite to come up with at least a Region II berth and this year is no different.

But it’s been a rough two weeks for the Black Knights. They’ve dropped three of their last four games. Falling to Waynesboro is nothing to be upset about, but back-to-back losses against a young and still developing Western Albemarle team is cause for concern, especially the most recent loss at home in JD play.

The Black Knights looked like they’re expected to by both their coach and fans in the third quarter, but nothing like it the fourth. Now with Fluvanna County coming to CHS on Tuesday, Charlottesville has to find a way to stop the YaYa Anderson led Flucos or face an 0-2 start in the district.

Fluvanna had Charlottesville’s number last year and with the way this team is playing, just one loss to a talented John Handley squad, this supremely young Flucos bunch looks like the most confident group in the district. Anderson has teammates responding to his usual high level of play and so any team looking to shut just him down is in for a big surprise when Taylor Lintecum, Vinny Agee or Jalen Harrison go off in a big way.

While many point to Charlottesville as the JD team with most loaded roster, the bottom line right now is that Fluvanna is the defending regular season champion and doesn’t look too keen on giving up that part of its resume. Tuesday’s showdown with these two will go a long way in deciding this race which has, for all intents and purposes, just begun.

Boys Top 5

1. Miller (8-3)

They’ve beaten some big boys and gone down to the wire with others. Miller has a loaded, athletic lineup and they have something no other team in the area has — Kansas-bound Andrew White. White makes the Mavericks a formidable opponent for any team.

2. Blue Ridge (5-3)

The Barons’ schedule is incredibly challenging with deep tournament fields, hence the trio of losses. But guard Darryl Smith and big man Paris Maragkos give the Barons a solid insisde-outside game that will give opponents fits all year.

3. Fluvanna County (10-1)

A pair of lopsided home wins over Monticello and Western Albemarle proved that star YaYa Anderson and the Flucos can protect home court in Jefferson District play, but Tuesday’s battle with Charlottesville on the road will be a key test.

4. William Monroe (8-4)

The Dragons have only lost to Group AA and AAA teams, and they've managed to beat some of those like Spotswood and Monticello. They rallied to beat Madison County and are off on a good foot in the Bull Run. Now a clash with George Mason on the road Tuesday night will test if the Dragons are ready to take a step forward.

5. Charlottesville (5-3)

The Black Knights have twice run into a stumbling block against Western Albemarle. The Warriors present clear matchup issues for CHS, but the Black Knights can get back on track with a strong showing against Fluvanna.

On the cusp: Western Albemarle, Buckingham County, Madison County

Girls Top 5

1. Miller (11-2)

Mavericks guard Taylor Sandidge is sporting a pretty serious statline right now. The junior is averaging 3.8 assists and 3.6 steals per game and even more impressively, leading her team in scoring with 14.2 points per contest. With forwards Whitney Martin and Ashleigh Claybrooks both averaging a combined 24 points and 13 rebounds per game, this team is rolling.

2. Charlottesville (5-4)

The Black Knights picked up a solid road win over Western Albemarle. Charlottesville’s guard play was a source of problems just two years ago, but right now this group of young players (Monique Perkins, Tamara Starchia, Nia Johnson) is a source of strength. When Sydney Calloway gets healthy, this team can play whatever style of basketball it wants.

3. William Monroe (7-5)

Winners of seven of its last eight, Monroe will find out just how far its come when they hit the road against perennial Bull Run District giant George Mason. A win over the Mustangs will vault this team forward.

4. Western Albemarle (6-8)

Tough loss for Western against CHS, but in defeat the Warriors saw that they were able to shoot themselves out of a funk thanks to 3-point shooting from Mady Baker and Sydney Fewell. If those two continue to knock down big shots and forward Bridgett Shaffrey establishes a post presence, Western packs a serious punch.

5. Monticello (5-5)

Not many freshmen are capable of making the impact that Molly Shephard is for the Mustangs. She’s scored six or more points in all but one game this year and is averaging 10.7 per contest. She’s also averaging 7.1 rebounds per game.

On the cusp: Fluvanna County, Tandem Friends, St. Anne’s-Belfield

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