A balanced Central opens district to ‘anyone’

Thomas Dale and Meadowbrook has become a bigger and bigger rivalry as time has passed, especially in football, and evidence can be seen of the rivalry in basketball too. A large crowd on hand for the game was the first clue, and secondly, the spirited Monarch fans as the boys basketball team attempted to defend their home court. Despite leading most of the way, the Monarchs fell to the Knights 73-63 in Central District action last Friday night.

The Knights, who won on the strength of their top two players in senior wing man Kavon Waller, who came in averaging 24 points per game, and sophomore guard Andrein White, the brother of former Thomas Dale and Miller School standout Andrew White III, who is currently suiting up for the Kansas Jayhawks as a freshman. White led all scorers with 29 points in this contest, and despite his youth has provided a steady presence at guard for the Knights all season.

“Not only is “Jaire” (Andrien White) a good player, he’s a great teammate as well,” said Waller. “He’s a laid back guy and always brings a good atmosphere with him.”

Led once again by local coaching stalwart Eddie Goss, the experienced Knights, as of press time, are 7-4 and 6-1 in the Central District, and returned four starters in Waller, White, point guard A.J. Holliday and power forward Colin Fleischer. After Friday’s win, the Knights set their focus on a battle with perennial district championship challenger Petersburg. The match-up took place on Tuesday, but due to deadlines, we were unable to publish the result. The lone loss of the district season, thus far, for the Knights came at the hands of Dinwiddie. Goss has observed a very balanced district this season.

“I’d say from top to bottom this is the most balanced the district has been in a long time,” Goss stated. “Anyone can beat anyone on any given night.”

Petersburg also suffered a district loss this year at the hands of a much improved and upbeat Matoaca squad, giving other Central District teams hope where hope has been difficult to find over the past few years.

Meadowbrook’s varsity squad is younger this season. They have started to gel under first year head coach Jake Oliver, who replaced Ksaan Brown this past off-season. The Monarchs, led by forward Brandon Cheeks and guard Khalil Hardy are 4-6 and 3-3 in the Central District thus far under Oliver.

“These guys are young but they are working at it,” said Oliver. “They are still learning to play together and still learning a new system that we put in place this year.”

Cheeks, a junior is a strong player, more of a guard that’s strong enough to play the three spot. Oliver applauds his rebounding and overall play. Hardy has earned the nickname “hot shot” from his teammates due to his shooting prowess and ability to reel off points. Hardy put up 33 points in Meadowbrook’s victory over Prince George earlier in the district season.

“Brandon [Cheeks] is as good of a player as there is in the area,” said Oliver. “He rebounds very well for his size and can score inside and out.”

Meadowbrook runs a fast paced offense, and when they have struggled it’s been through times of shooting and shot selection. Oliver also cited overall team communication as an area that can improve. Like most teams that play a fast tempo, Meadowbrook can be deadly when they are shooting well as a team.

Meadowbrook and Thomas Dale both continue their season this Friday with match-ups at Matoaca and against Hopewell respectively.

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