Well, not quite. Actually, not even close as the Prince William Virginians AAU team has shown this year in part of assistant coach Donnie Braxtons training methods and the teams play on the court.
Braxton takes players Ashleigh Braxton, Ariene Jenkins, Britnie Williams and Jessica Taylor to the Dale City Sport and Health Center for a different kind of training to increase their toughness.
“I take them and have them play against older men and teenagers,” Braxton said. “Its taught them to fear nobody. It also puts them against stiff competition and their games improve because of it. The games make them tougher.”
Added Ashleigh Braxton, who will play at Forest Park next year: “Its taught us to be more aggressive and not to show any weakness. When you are hurt or not playing too well its showed us to not back down and to keep playing hard.”
The games against older and stronger ballplayers have paid off. In the past year, the Virginians have knocked off the teams that finished third, fifth and ninth in last years national tournament. They finished second in the Virginia state tournament and now head to the AAU National Tournament in Orlando, Fla. The opening ceremonies are today and then games begin tomorrow as the Virginians take on the Central Kentucky Comets in pool play.
“I cant wait for the games to start,” guard Ashleigh Braxton said. “I just love playing ball and the competition is always great at nationals. Its funny to think that you are playing against players here the someday might be your teammates in college.”
Playing against older men is not the only reason for the Virginians success. They have finished second in the state tournament three out of the last four years and took fifth at nationals as U-10s.
“These girls show that basketball on the high school level is really about to improve,” Braxton said of the players on his team, who, except for Taylor, will all be freshman in high school next year. “These girls are all very talented and very competitive.”
Donnie Braxton says that it has been a complete team effort and everyone has contributed equally. Along with Jenkins, Braxton, Taylor and Williams the Virginians have guards Lauren Firich, Lakisha Ferguson, Marqui Mason and Kayla Dozier and frontcourt players Chanelle Downing, Lindsey MacDonald and Chalea Johnson.
“They are all wonderful athletes,” Donnie Braxton said. “They have worked really hard and it has been a real team effort. We could not have come this far without all our wonderful players.”
After opening with the Angels, the Virginians will play a double-header on Saturday. They open with the Jackson (Miss.) Sparks at noon and then finish pool play with the Capital (Potomac Valley/Washington D.C. area) Comets at 7 p.m.
If the Virginians finish first or second in their pool they advance to the double-elimination national championship tournament. If they finish third or fourth in their pool, they will play in the consolation, otherwise known as the classic, bracket.
“I think we are going to do really well,” Taylor said. “I think our pool is pretty easy and Im excited to start playing. After finishing second at states Im really confident in our team.”
The Virginians took second in the state tournament behind Boo Williams Summer League Norfolk in April. At states, Prince William handed the Norfolk team their first ever loss in the state tournament. Norfolk finished ninth in last years national tournament.
FOREST PARK GETS TRANSFER
Welcome to Woodbridge Marcus Relf. The rest of the Cardinal District is probably not happy to see you.
Relf, who will transfer to Forest Park from Atlanta this fall, is the newest addition to the Forest Park basketball team.
Relf is an athletic 6-6 power forward, that has the versatility to play small forward and the size to play center. He is playing this summer with the Forest Park Metro South team and will live with his cousin Brandon Huntley for his senior year.
“Hes an athletic kid with long arms,” Forest Park coach Brion Dunlap said. “He can help us out a lot. We are looking for a lot of good things from all our kids and also from him. Im looking forward to next year. I think things could be interesting.”
The Bruins are 6-0 this summer in Metro South after defeating West Springfield. Relf scored 15 points in the game, mostly on lay-ups and short jumpers. The Bruins also have wins over Lake Braddock, Hayfield, Fauquier, Westfield and Woodbridge this summer.
Last year, the Bruins went 4-17 last year and 0-6 in the Cardinal District in only their second season of competition. Kenny Carter was the Bruins leading scorer last year with 13.8 points per game.
PRINCE WILLIAM VIRGINIANS WIN POOL AT NATIONALS
The Prince William Virginians girls U-10 AAU team won their pool at the AAU National Tournament last week at the Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Fla. The tournament ran from July 3-11.
The Virginians opened the tournament with a 39-9 victory over the Mississippi Fire last Thursday. The Virginians then defeated the Waterford (Mich.) Wave Red, 27-16, and beat the Middle-Atlantic Comets, 36-26, to win their pool and advance to the championship tournament.
Prince William did not fare as well in the double-elimination championship tournament and lost to the Oklahoma Hornets, 60-31, in the first round. The Virginians then lost in the first round of the losers bracket to Rolling Creek (Potomac Valley/Washington D.C. area) Lady Express, 59-49, to end the tournament.
METRO SOUTH NAMES SOME OF ITS ALL-STARS
Several Prince William County players have been selected to play in Saturdays all-star games at Osbourn Park.
Woodbridges Terrell Phillips and Ryan Dickriede have been selected to represent the Gray Division in the junior varsity all-star game.
Stonewalls Adam Woodward and Dan Morgan and Woodbridges Chris Kendall and Dan Fountain were selected for the underclass all-star game.
In the upperclass game, Stonewalls Roman Burmistrov, Tyc Snow and Onye Onunaku and Woodbridges James Prince were selected.
Players from other teams have yet to be selected, as rosters are still being sent into the league office. League administator Bill Woleslagle said the rosters are being updated on the leagues website as they come in.
All games are Saturday night at Osbourn Park with the junior varsity game starting at 5:30. The underclass game is scheduled for 6:45 p.m. and the upperclass game starts at 8 p.m.
Teams rosters can be seen on the Internet at: www.geocities.com/colosseum/sideline/9754/metrohp.html
David Stegon covers summer basketball for the Potomac News & Manassas Journal Messenger. Reach him at 703-878-8053 or by email at [email protected]