Area sophomores don?t need seniority

Looking for the best boys basketball matchup in the area? You say Potomac and Gar-Field went to overtime on Friday night, how ’bout that one?

Well, here’s a thought for an even better game. Team Learner’s License against Team Senior Prom. What a game it would be.

It’s against Virginia High School League rules, true, but if only we could set up the area’s sophomore class against the seniors. Entering Friday night’s games, five sophomores were leading their teams in scoring. Of the top 10 scorers in the Potomac News & Manassas Journal Messenger’s coverage area, five were sophomores and five were seniors.

“That’s one thing that we’ve seen; the young talent around here is a very uplifting thing for a lot of teams,” Forest Park coach Brion Dunlap said. “It seems like almost every team has a key sophomore.”

The Bruins start two sophomores, guard Kenny Carter and forward Aaron Meachem. The 6-foot-1 Carter was all over the court on Friday night, finishing with 14 points and 12 rebounds in a victory over Stonewall Jackson.

Entering Friday night’s games, Carter was averaging 13.7 points per game (10th in the area). Yet he wouldn’t even be guaranteed a starting spot on the all-sophomore team.

The sure spots would have to go to Potomac forward Jason Flagler and guard Bryan Butler. Coach Kendall Hayes has said those two players are his most talented athletes on offense, which is saying something on a team that’s 12-2 and ranked ninth in the state in Group AAA.

Prior to the Panthers’ overtime triumph on Friday night, Flagler was leading the team with 15.8 points per game and Butler was third at 13.9. Flagler, who scored 20 points against the Indians, has perhaps the best mid-range game in the area. And his dunks and finger rolls aren’t too shabby either.

Potomac senior forward Ian Sumers has been in the Panthers’ varsity program since late in his freshman year. He knows his Potomac basketball history, so he’s not entirely awed by Flagler’s game. Flagler has more of a starring role this year after averaging 10.5 points as a freshman, but he also has a few tough acts to follow. “I’ve seen Cliff [Hawkins] and Mookie [Felder], and [Flagler] does a lot of the things they did,” Sumers said. “But it’s nothing I haven’t seen before.”

Butler knows nothing about range. He’ll shoot — and connect — from just about anywhere, and he’s also adept at penetrating through a defense, as Stonewall coach Marcus Lawrence noted on Friday night. “Butler’s really, really good,” Lawrence said. “He did a lot of things against us.”

And Lawrence isn’t Butler’s only fan. Sumers, who ranks second on the team in scoring at 15.5, said last week, “He’s coming along. When he gets hot, that shot is just ridiculous.”

With Butler working on his all-around game at Potomac, Daniel Fountain is doing the same at Cardinal District-leading Woodbridge. He leads the Vikings with 12.9 points per game, and according to coach Will Robinson, he too has developed a better feel for when to shoot and when to drive.

o anybody’s all-sophomore roster would have to include Butler, Flagler, Fountain and Carter. In neighboring Stafford County, Colonial Forge guard Kenny Rivers (22.2 points a game) has been suspended from the team for academic reasons. Nevertheless, the Commonwealth District has a few names to add to this team, like Colonial Forge guard/forward Kory Whiting (a 15.9-point average), Brooke Point guard Tim Pederson (11.5) and Stafford forward Cole Arnett (11.4).

Elsewhere from the Class of 2004, center Jermaine Hill has helped Hylton make up for the partial loss of Ahmad Brooks to the football recruiting trail. Hill and Arnett would be the most likely post players in the Learner’s License rotation, which would mean they’d have their work cut out for them against Sumers, Woodbridge’s Tyrice Watkins and Brooks. If only Brentsville’s leading scorer, 6-foot-4 forward Jacob Lavely, were a sophomore instead of a freshman. He would fit in nicely on the team of up-and-comers.

If the two teams got together, the sophomores may have the players with the best stats but we’re not playing rotisserie high school basketball here. We can’t help but wonder how much a couple of years of experience would help the seniors.

“I don’t know; I think it would be close,” Dunlap said. “I think the sophomores have more guards, but the seniors have the better inside game.”

And with Potomac’s Gary Price, Woodbridge’s Jeffrey Allen, Gar-Field’s Ryan Smith or Hylton’s Lee Butler running the point, the right seniors would probably get the ball in the right spots. Here’s one vote for the seniors. But just barely.