Seahorses win 4th straight Prep League title
|Members of the Christchurch School basketball team, which has won four straight Virginia Prep League titles, include, from left, assistant coach Don Harris, managers Ricky Callis and Trey Anderson, TJ Williams, Trace Larabee, James Ford, Kyle Egerton, Sam Miller, Michael Gbinije, Josh Bey, Robert Lawson, Matt Bray, Noble Cunningham, Coron Williams, videographer Will Galleher, and head coach Glen Taylor. Not pictured is Hayden Sykes.|
Sophomore Mike Gbinije had 29 points, 8 rebounds, 4 blocks and 4 steals to lead Christchurch School to a 71-68 win over St. Anne’s Belfield (STAB) in the championship game of the Virginia Prep League Tournament at Trinity Episcopal High School in Richmond last Saturday.
It was the fourth straight Prep League title for the Seahorses.
Gbinije was named tourney MVP and was joined on the All-Tournament squad by senior Sam Miller and freshman James Ford. In the three-game tournament, Gbinije had 67 points, 27 rebounds, 11 blocked shots, 10 steals and 7 assists.
In the 71-68 win over STAB, the Seahorses jumped to a 10-0 lead and 21-16 first quarter advantage as Gbinije and Williams each scored 7 points in the period.
Freshman James Ford (6’3”) tallied 9 points in the second quarter and the Seahorses led 40-36 at intermission. Williams held STAB star Brett Goodloe to only 5 points in the first half.
The third quarter belonged to Gbinije. The 6’6” sophomore wing guard scored 13 of the Seahorses’ 15 points in the period and kept CCS in front 55-53 heading into the final period.
|Caron Williams: All-Prep Guard|
Gbinije continued his torrid shooting with 9 points in the fourth quarter as CCS held off every STAB run at taking the lead. Several strong hustle plays by Ford and a three-point play by senior center Sam Miller were crucial for Christchurch down the stretch.
However, the final outcome would not be determined until the final buzzer. Trailing by three points, STAB would get one final possession after Gbinije rebounded a missed STAB free throw and came down with the ball with a foot on the out-of-bounds line. With only a few seconds to play, a calculated risk was taken by CCS coach Glen Taylor not to call a timeout, but rather force STAB to come up with a last second three-point play on the fly. STAB’s outstanding shooter, Bryan Lynch, would get open momentarily for a look at a 3-pointer on the final play, but CCS point guard Noble Cunningham partially blocked the shot as time expired and the Seahorses (17-8) had earned its fourth straight Prep League title.
In addition to Gbinije’s 29 points, Ford tallied 13, Williams 12, Miller 10, Cunningham 5, and Robert Lawson 2.
“I am both humbled by and deeply proud of my team’s accomplishments this year,” said CCS coach Glen Taylor on Tuesday. “In many ways this year’s championship was one of the most gratifying, if not the most gratifying, of the four consecutive titles. Any time you lose six athletes off of your roster like we did last year, that’s hard to replace. Five of those six athletes from a year ago are playing college athletics and another one is trying out for a professional football team in Australia, so that speaks to the talent we had to replace.
“I am very proud of our three senior captains, Noble Cunningham, Coron Williams and Sam Miller,” continued Coach Taylor. “Coron was a star last year and was a star all year this year, but Noble and Sam really had to step into prominent roles this year for the first time in their careers. The job they have done in leading this team and accepting their roles has been nothing short of incredible and selfless.
|Click on the Week in Photos slideshow above to see more of the Seahorses in action.|
“We were blessed with two talented newcomers in sophomore Mike Gbinije and freshman James Ford,” said Coach Taylor. “They will both play Division I basketball one day for sure. Mike has really grown into his role as the season went along. He never seems to force things. He is a very talented and capable player and he showed everybody in the VPL semifinals and finals why the “who’s who” of the college basketball world is recruiting him. James is our ‘junk-yard dog’ who just does all of the little things well for us. He can essentially play every position on the court and defend every position on the court. His versatility was a huge key in our team’s success this year.
“We challenged our kids before the championship fame to ‘put their names in the record books’ and they did just that. Christchurch School becomes only the second school in the history of the Virginia Prep League Tournament to win four consecutive tournament titles. Only the run made by Trinity Episcopal School under the late Dale Travis from 1981-1985 matches what the Seahorses have done over the last four years. That is something that this group of players and this group of seniors will never forget,” said Taylor.
Christchurch’s semifinal win over Fork Union on Friday was paced by senior 6’5” center Sam Miller and Mike Gbinije. Miller torched the Blue Devils for 21 points on 8 of 10 shooting, including 5 for 5 from beyond the three-point arc. At times, Gbinije dominated action on both ends of the court and finished with 20 points and 14 rebounds.
Ford added 14 points, Williams had 11 and Lawson 5.
Cunningham had 2 points, 9 assists and 3 assists.
This week, Christchurch will travel to Alexandria to compete in the Sleepy Thompson Tournament hosted by St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes School. Each year for the last three years this tournament has proven to be a great test for the Seahorses as they head into next week’s State Division I Tournament. CCS’s first opponent in the Sleepy Thompson event will be Flint Hill School on Thursday, Feb. 26, at 5 p.m.
Visit http://www.christchurchschool.org for more details.