The VISAA D1 State Tournament started yesterday with the play in games, and now we’re on to quarterfinals with the semifinals and finals set for this weekend at Virginia State. It’s one of the most anticipated weekends of basketball in…
The VISAA D1 State Tournament started yesterday with the play in games, and now we’re on to quarterfinals with the semifinals and finals set for this weekend at Virginia State. It’s one of the most anticipated weekends of basketball in the state, with college coaches and fans flocking to Petersburg for some great hoops action. We take a look at our predictions for the rest of the tournament.
#1 Paul VI vs. #5 Bishop O’Connell
The two rivals in the WCAC are historically two of the best programs in the state, and we wouldn’t be surprised to see them have to face off again in a big time semifinal matchup. PVI had a bye in the first round and are coming off a heartbreaking loss to St. John’s in the WCAC Championship, but that shouldn’t deter them in their NOVA matchup against St. Stephen’s St. Agnes. PVI is one of the deepest teams in the state if not the country, led by Maryland commitand 2024 Duke commit . They have the size, athleticism and firepower to beat anyone, and will be hungry for a championship after losing their chance at the WCAC crown.
O’Connell will be in a tough matchup with #4 Blue Ridge after they easily handled #12 St. Chris in the first round, and I’m expecting the game against Blue Ridge to be very good but think O’Connell has a little bit more firepower. They have a mix of young talent and experienced players that make them hard to matchup with. Freshmanhas had such a good year he was one of the few players I’ve ever seen to be named First Team All WCAC, and they have great size and versatility in the front court with senior Bucknell commit and junior forward who will cause real mismatches with his perimeter skillset at 6’6”.
While a matchup between these two teams is never an easy one, as they have a lot of animosity and know each other as well as any two programs in the country, PVI has had the edge over them throughout the year. In their two matchups, PVI has won both of them handedly with an 88-62 win in early January and 101-73 win in February. I expect this game to be closer, but the Panthers just have too much size and depth for the young Knights.
#2 St. Anne’s-Belfield vs. #3 Catholic
Both of these teams came into the season knowing they would be good, but have out performed even the most gaudy of expectations and deserve a chance to play at VSU this weekend. STAB currently sits at 25-3 with their losses coming early in the season to strong teams and a few of them without their senior floor general. They will meet #7 Bishop Ireton in the quarterfinals, and while Ireton has had a few impressive wins the balance STAB has should be too much for them. The Saints feature one of the top backcourts in the state in St. Germain and sophomore , they have one of the best bigs in the state in Vanderbilt commit and senior and two athletic two-way wings in senior and sophomore . They should just be too much Ireton.
Catholic has had a media worthy season too, going 33-2 and are riding a 29 game winning streak into the quarterfinals where they’ll meet an upstart Woodberry Forest team. This team has some of the best chemistry in the state, as they have experience at almost every position, with the exception being the center position but they have one of the most talented freshman in the country in 6’11” Kosi Mgbejiofor manning the middle as one of the elite rim protectors and finishers you’ll see. The TCIS champions feature firepower at the wings in seniorand junior , they have a talented floor general in junior and a versatile do-it-all glue guy in senior . They just have too many weapons for Woodberry, in my opinion.
This has the potential to be one of the best games of the year and perhaps the best one we’ll see at VSU if it happens, and picking a winner is almost impossible. This game could go either way as STAB has a little bit more talent in their first five, but Catholic has more depth and experience for the most part.
For the sake of this one and not overthinking too much, I’m going to give the slight edge to Catholic because of what they can do defensively against this group. Mgbejiofor will be able to challenge Lang in the post and make it difficult for him to finisher over the top and attack the offensive glass, and they have the length to bother the smaller scoring guards of Mallory and St. Germain. If they can get the scoring they’ve come to expect from Rickards, McPherson and Thorne, they could come away with it, but it could go the other way too.
A Paul VI-Catholic matchup would be very intriguing, from the perspective that it’s two of the top private schools in two of the top areas of high school basketball in the state. PVI has been a prestigious powerhouse in the famous WCAC league for the past two decades plus, while Catholic has had it’s ups and downs since putting more emphasis on sports in the past 15 or so years.
This game would not lack in talent and would be one for college coaches of all levels to attend to evaluate. Both teams are well coached by two coaches in Glen Farrello (PVI) and Bobby Steinberg (Catholic) who run their teams like college programs and will have their teams prepared to compete.
The edge though, has to go to Paul VI, who has so much size and athleticism at each position that would be hard for Catholic to matchup with. Their wings of 6’6” 2024 Duke commitand 6’6” 2024 nationally ranked will tower over the smaller Catholic wings, they will be able to throw a lot of bodies at Mgbejiofor and possibly get him into foul trouble and 6’5” senior and WCAC POY will be very tough for them to matchup with, as he is with every team that plays them. The Panthers may have lost a couple of close ones to Sidwell Friends and St. John’s recently, but they’re still one of the best and most talented teams in the country.