Next season’s high school basketball talent on display
The weather conditions when rivals like Hanover and Lee-Davis usually meet for basketball action aren’t usually temperatures in the 90s and electrical storms surrounding the area. Times have changed, and high school athletes take every opportunity possible to hone and improve their craft.
Hanover’s Cutch Ellis puts up a jumper over Lee-Davis’s Austin Deihr during Summer League play at The Steward School. Hanover outlasted two different Lee-Davis runs to win 52-46.
So, at The Steward School in western Henrico County Tuesday night, the Hawks and Confederates renewed a decade-old rivalry. Only this time, it didn’t count in the standings, only in the development of their individual and collective futures.
After two 20-minute halves with a continuous clock, and an extra point given to teams when the opponents committed fouls in non-shooting situations, Hanover outlasted two Lee-Davis runs to win 52-46.
The Hawks built a 23-11 advantage 11 minutes into the first half, when Lee-Davis answered with a 9-0 run over six minutes. After Ladarian Autry drained one of four three-pointers with 2:59 to go, it was 23-20. But the Hawks won the final three minutes to take a 29-22 lead into halftime.
The second half followed a similar script, with the Hawks building their lead only to have the Confederates make a run late. Two more Autry treys in the final minute trimmed the Hanover lead to seven, and a final trey from Irving Jones before the final horn made the final margin six.
“A lot of players from both teams aren’t here tonight due to AAU commitments,” said Hanover head coach Darren Thornton. “Still, it’s a good opportunity for the players to work together.”
Rising Patrick Henry sophomore James Pinder gives the Patriots a 28-24 lead with 10 minutes left in the game. Pinder, playing point guard, also hit clutch free throws as the game wound down to help secure the win.
In an adjacent gym, Patrick Henry, another county team that participates in the Steward Summer League, defeated the host team 45-39. The Patriots and Confederates were scheduled to face each other Wednesday night (after presstime).
Forward Cutch Ellis, used primarily as a three-point threat for the Hawks last year, has specific goals in mind during Summer League.
“It’s good to get chemistry with the team for when we get into the season. I want to work more on my down low game. I want to be able to post up and shoot from behind the arc,” Ellis said.
At 6 feet, 6 inches, Ellis’s height would be a welcomed presence inside for Thornhill’s Hawks who lost 6-foot 7-inch forward Chris Gilliam, along with shooters Trayvonte Brown (Richard Bland College) and Donte Haynesworth (Norfolk State) to graduation, but return talented rising sophomore Jalen Elliott, plus Josh Harris, Jordan Wade, and Brennan Gary.
For Lee-Davis, summer is a chance to bring a young team back together to build camaraderie. For a team that went winless in the final season of the Capital District, forward-center Austin Diehr sees a lot of improvement now that will pay dividends later.
“We were pretty inexperienced last year, so we have a lot of rising seniors, which hopefully will be a positive for us,” Diehr noted. “We’re looking for more wins this year and to show we have some fight. We’re trying to get rid of the bad Lee-Davis name.”
Autry’s shooting ability, coupled with the talent shown on the Steward School court Tuesday night by Jones, Tariq Caldwell, and others, gives the Lee-Davis faithful hope. The team will need all the talent they can muster when they begin playing in the tough new Conference 11 with former Capital District foes Atlee, Henrico and Highland Springs, plus former Colonial District members Hermitage, Mills Godwin, Deep Run, and Douglas Freeman. Hopefully, the Confederates will be competitive come late November, when the 90-degree plus temperatures are a distant memory, and the wins and losses count.