Raider guards take charge

MANASSAS — Heading into the most pivotal game of its season, the Stonewall Jackson boys basketball team knows it will need tremendous effort, tough defense and timely shooting. And the Raiders have a backcourt that’s quite capable of fitting those requirements to a “T.”

Junior Tyc Snow, the seventh in a line of kids named for people in the Bible whose names start with the same letter, runs the point for coach Marcus Lawrence’s team. Meanwhile, senior Sean Russell has 56 three-pointers and is as pure a shooter as anyone in the area.

Snow and Russell will be key players on Wednesday night as the Cedar Run District tournament begins at Osbourn. In the second semifinal, Stonewall (6-15, 3-3) will meet the host Eagles (8-13, 3-3). If regular-season champion Potomac handles fourth-seeded Osbourn Park in the opener, the third Stonewall-Osbourn matchup will be for a Northwest Region berth.

Osbourn and Stonewall split with each other, swept OP and were swept by Potomac. Stonewall won the coin flip to get the second seed, but all that gives the Raiders is the right to wear their home jerseys. Osbourn, predetermined site for the entire tournament, will be on its home floor.

“They play different at home; they just have more confidence,” Russell said of an Osbourn team that beat Stonewall 75-56 at home last Tuesday. “But if we play our game, we’ll beat them.”

In that most recent encounter, coach Mike Dufrene’s defense focused on Russell, as he took no shots in the first half. He finished with 11 points, his 13th double-digit scoring output of the season. Russell averaged 12.6 points in the regular season, while Snow averaged 11.6 and scored a season-high 26 in that loss to Osbourn.

Stonewall beat the Eagles 57-52 on Jan. 15, but has lost six of eight games since. One of the wins was by that same 57-52 score in a shocker at eventual Cardinal District champion Woodbridge on Jan. 29.

Against Woodbridge, Snow scored 16 and Russell 14. They’ll be counted on for similar offense in the postseason. At least they’ve logged the necessary practice time Russell says he has taken hundreds of shots each day since he was 4 or 5 years old. Snow has followed that example, taking 300 jumpers a day since the end of last season.

“I practice every day except Sundays, and then I just lift weights,” Snow said. “Most of my game is mental. I like to watch films and read the Bible. Then I work physically on my game for no more than an hour and a half.”

The name Tyc (pronounced Tick) is short for Tychicus, a companion of Paul’s. Tyc’s father is a preacher at Star of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Triangle, while his mother is a deaconess at the same church. His brothers are named Tommy, Timothy, Titus, Thad and Theo, and his sister is Tamar. All of his siblings except gospel-writing Timothy played basketball at either Brentsville or Stonewall.

Snow has nearly three assists for every turnover (96 to 35) in his 20 games. He also has 1.8 steals per game.

“Tyc is such a tremendous worker,” Lawrence said. “We talked about him scoring more, and then he went out and did the work this summer.”

Russell, the Cardinal District’s leading three-point shooter last season, didn’t need as much work on his scoring ability. This year, he has made 77.6 percent of his 67 free throws, 53.8 percent of his two-point tries and 40 percent of his threes.

“Sean used to score 12 or 14 points a night but give up 16 or 18,” Lawrence said. “This year, he has really improved his defense.”

After going 4-18 in Lawrence’s first season, Stonewall hit the weight room harder and had more high points in 2001-2002 including the win over Woodbridge. With a new district setup, the Raiders may just be one win away from finding out what it’s like to play in the regional tournament. To advance, they’ll have to beat the same team in the same place where they lost last week.

“Offensive rebounds killed us,” Lawrence said of the Raiders’ defeat at Osbourn. “We can’t give up second shots. Osbourn’s big guys pounded the boards pretty good. We can’t let them have their way and we can’t give up 75 points.”

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