Paul VI downs CCS in semifinals
Paul VI of Fairfax downed Christchurch School 61-42 in the semifinals on Friday, and defeated Blue Ridge 61-47 in the finals on Saturday to win the Division I Independent Schools State Basketball Championship at Richard Bland College in Petersburg.
In Friday’s other semifinal, Blue Ridge ousted 2008 state champion Benedictine 74-63 to advance to Saturday’s finals against Paul V1 (19-15).
For the third consecutive year the Seahorses ran into a buzz-saw in the state semifinals. The previous two years it was nationally-ranked and eventual state champion Benedictine that eliminated CCS. This year a red-hot Paul VI team proved to be the Seahorses’ downfall.
“Teams from the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference like Paul VI are so battled-tested at this time of the year,” said Christchurch coach Glen Taylor. “They have to compete regularly with the likes of DeMatha, Gonzaga, Bishop O’Connell and Bishop McNamara. There is simply nothing that we could throw at them that they had not seen or been through over the course of their rigorous schedule.
“I think we left a lot of emotion and effort in Alexandria after the win over Episcopal High School [in Alexandria] on Wednesday,” continued Taylor. “We simply didn’t have the same fire and passion versus Paul VI and that was a recipe for disaster against the talented Panthers.”
Virginia Tech signee Eric Green was unstoppable for Paul VI, and he was surrounded by an athletic and powerful front line. The Panthers’ Raven Barber (6’8”) is headed to Mt. St. Mary’s next year and he and 6’8” junior Eugene McCrory, who is sure to be a mid-major college prospect next year, dominated the glass against CCS.
Green finished with 23 points, McCrory 16 and Barber 10.
“We had a horrible shooting night but much of that was due to the intense man-to-man played by Paul VI,” said Taylor. “They proved it was no fluke the next day by easily taking care of an extremely talented Blue Ridge squad for the state championship.”
Paul VI had previously beaten Christchurch in the John Stone Memorial Tournament in December.
For Christchurch, Coron Williams had 9 points, James Ford 8, Mike Gbinije 8, Noble Cunningham 6, Robert Lawson 4, Sam Miller 3, TJ Williams 2 and Kyle Egerton 2.
The Seahorses finished with a final record of 21-10; won their fourth straight Virginia Prep League Championship, and made their third straight State Division I semifinal appearance.
Christchurch defeated second-seeded Episcopal School of Alexandria 68-59 on March 4 in Alexandria in the quarterfinals of the State Division I Independent Schools Basketball Tournament for a third straight year.
The Seahorses led 22-14 after the first quarter and 40-25 at the half. Episcopal could get no closer than 7 points the rest of the game.
Senior guard Coron Williams had 25 points, 5 rebounds and 4 steals to pace the Seahorses. Williams also turned in a stellar performance defending Episcopal’s All-State wing guard Given Kalipinde.Sophomore guard/forward Mike Gbinije added 22 points, 12 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 blocked shots. “He was everywhere, all over the court all night long,” said Taylor.
Freshman forward James Ford had 8 points and 5 rebounds for CCS. Senior center Sam Miller had 6 points and 8 rebounds, and senior point guard Noble Cunningham tallied 7 points and 7 assists.