Roosevelt forward Devin Gallman(#22) came up with a team-leading 19 points that sparked the Rough Riders to a DCIAA title and the honor of being the "Best Game" I attended all year.
And we're back!
After that short, week-long break so I could finish this mammoth entry, I'm going to get straight to business.
For those of you who missed Part One, I'm awarding superlatives such as "Best Performance" and "Best Game" to the match-ups I've attended this 2010-2011 athletic season.
The games that are up for awards:
- Stone Bridge/Hayfield football-Virginia Regional Championship
- Briar Woods/Broad Run football-Virginia Regional Championship
- Woodson/Dunbar football-DCIAA Championship
- Briar Woods/Courtland football-Virginia State Semi-finals
- Marshall/Jefferson boys basketball-WUSA 9 "Game of the Week"(and little brother's birthday gift)
- Woodson/Coolidge girls basketball-DCIAA Championship
- Theodore Roosevelt/Eastern boys basketball-DCIAA Championship
- Gaithersburg/Wise girls basketball-Maryland State Championship
- North Point/Magruder boys basketball-Maryland State Semifinal
- Montrose/John Carroll boys basketball-ESPN RISE National Championship Tourney 1st Round
- South Lakes/West Springfield baseball-WUSA 9 Campus Correspondent training session
- Langley/Chantilly boys lacrosse-Virginia State Championship
- Madison/Oakton girls lacrosse-Virginia State Championship
Now that everybody is caught up, let's get into the next set of awards!
Now, our "Best Individual Game" is awarded to the dominating performance by Gaithersburg junior forward Jackie Jackson as she ripped Dr. Wise in the state title game for 15 points. Dr. Wise's penetration offense was effectively shut down by Gaithersburg's zone defense, which was anchored by Jackson. Dr. Wise had no shooters or post threat so Jackson went unchecked to help cap off Gaithersburg's perfect season with the 58-38 victory.
For a more fun award that'll allow me to delve into my vast word bank of sports hyperbole, let's take a look at "Best Bad A$$ (a player who plays a game so dominant, he/she wills their team to a win in the process of forcing their opponent to quit) Performance. And the "Best BA Performance" Award goes to...Montrose Christian's junior forward Justin Anderson for his emphatic 11 points/8 rebounds game in the first round of the ESPN Rise National High School Invitational.
Montrose drew a scrappy, tough John Carroll in their first game and John Carroll proved they were not intimidated, staying within shouting distance of the more talented Montrose squad. But Anderson's play, either on defense with swatting away shots or on offense with dagger three-pointers, eventually wore out over-matched John Carroll. Anderson had his swagger on full attack, either primal shouting after a block or smirking after a shot, the junior forward put on a complete "BA" performance in the 64-59 win.
Every season has its fair share of surprises and I figured I'd like to recognize the "Biggest Surprise" as a category. When I first drafted these awards, I wanted to recognize an individual player whose play surprised me, but I decided to widen the picture a bit and look at what in general was surprising. And with that, it was Langley's boys' lacrosse team putting on a lacrosse clinic in their state championship game that netted the Saxons their third-straight title.
I read a stat that in each season, Langley's record to finish the season matched their entry into the state tournament. And with three losses to end the regular season, a third-place finish in the region and two tough games in the state tourney, Langley looked like they'd come up short this season. But in the state championship, Langley outright destroyed Chantilly 17-8, netting the Saxons another state title.
After crushing through the last couple categories, I'd like to give special introduction to my last two awards: "Best Team" and "Best Game." As tired and overused as these categories can be, I think they're still necessary.
You can learn about the themes of a whole season when you examine what team stood out the best out of all the crowned champions in a single school year. The Best Game reveals the most compelling narrative out the millions of stories. My "Best Team" proved all doubters (including myself) wrong and the "Best Game" was the best live non-Penn State related sporting event that I have ever attended in a non-participating role.
And the Best Team that I witnessed during the 2010-2011 academic and athletic school year was the 2010 Briar Woods Falcons. The Falcons endured their own fair share of hardships on their way to bringing home their first state championship. Briar Woods intended to lean heavy behind their bruising senior running back Michael Brownlee and have their freshman quarterback Trace McSorley to facilitate the offense...except that plan was tossed out the window in the first offensive carry of the season. Brownlee broke his foot and the Falcons had to rely on their freshman signal caller to steer them forward.
The two Briar Woods games I caught in November featured a healthy Brownlee and the running back played like a man possessed, punishing Broad Run in the region finals and Courtland in the state semis. Not too many teams could endure the loss of one of their leaders for most of the season and then go into warp speed once he's returned as if nothing ever happened. Briar Woods' seamless assimilation of Brownlee proved the Falcons had the best coaches and concept of "team", which then flipped into a state title proves they were the Best Team in the region this school year.
I hope to forever remember the "Best Game." You always hear about games where something so unbelievable happened that it had to be true and that they make the rounds about the Internet and become games of legend. The DCIAA boy's basketball title game between Theodore Roosevelt and Eastern was such a contest.
I was on the opposite baseline when Roosevelt senior guard Ezell Starks proceeded to steal the ball from the Eastern backcourt, drive for the hoop as he absorbed the foul only to see the ball go through as the buzzer sounded to break the tie and propel Roosevelt to a DCIAA title, 62-60. I understand I'm supposed to be an objective journalist, but to be a part of that sequence of events inspired me to cheer out loud. The packed gym was on its feet, all buzzing like myself after just seeing Starks have the state of mind to go for the win rather than wait for overtime. A lot of the games I saw personally were either blow-outs or just plain messy and not fun to watch. Basketball is the only kind of game where a turnover into a score is likely to happen for the win (sorry fumble/interception returns for touchdowns). I still get hyped up when I remember that game.
So that marks another academic school year. A lot of these retrospective pieces lament how most seniors will never play again, how the future is bright, and all that jazz.
I prefer to celebrate those kids who put it out on the line during their childhood and then decide after high school that they've had enough. Those kids have done great things and we should cherish what was, not be bummed out by what could have been.
The best reason to celebrate is there will be a whole new set of seniors, juniors, sophomores, and freshmen. I can't wait until it starts all over again.