We suspected Osbourn would be a pretty good team this year, we just didn’t think they’d be so good, so early. The Eagles (6-0) have road wins over Woodson and Potomac and have weathered the loss of a 20-point-a-game scorer (Anthony Pearson) quite well. While some players around the region are still figuring out new roles and that they have to step up, Osbourn’s Donovan Breeding, Draykeau Hogan, Connor Withers and Jon Hylton definitely have already done so. Those four cumulatively have upped their scoring production about 40% from last year, and the Eagles are playing the same good defense we’ve grown accustomed to seeing them play under Rocky Carter…
Okay, Annandale’s early season schedule under first-year coach Deidrich Gilreath hasn’t been daunting, but people stood up and took notice when the Atoms polished off #18 Oakton on the road this week.
“It was especially big for me because we were down 13-2 in the first quarter,” Gilreath told us. “We definitely have some heart. The kids really listen, and after a couple of time outs we had guys in the huddle saying we’ll be fine. We have to believe we can win every game and the guys are starting to get the confidence to believe they can.”
Only four guys have varsity experience for Gilreath’s squad, but those guys have stepped up. Junior guard Junior Lotongo is scoring around 16 points a game and guard Matthew McKiver has again been a stabilizing presence. Senior center Ty-Ree Anderson has been a rejection machine in the middle and senior guard Abdi Abdalla has improved his game with more minutes. Those four have been similar to Osbourn’s big four, increasing their output a ton and accepting new roles.
“Those guys have been great and we’ve gotten a lot of nice contributions from guys that were on the JV last year,” Gilreath says. “I knew what Junior [Lotongo] could do as I coached him in AAU. I’ve been in his ear since March trying to get him to play every possession with no plays off. If he can do that he’s an all-region player.”
The Atoms’ schedule continues to get tougher tonight, when they host high-powered #17 Lake Braddock. We’ll be at their game next week when they host Chantilly.
Speaking of tough schedules, it’s hard not to admire some of them. Guys like Keith Honore at Potomac, Carlos Poindexter at Hayfield, Randy Bills at Battlefield and Doug Craig at Woodson (also South Lakes, Wakefield, etc.) are really putting their teams through a gauntlet, non-conference. We believe that will pay off late-season.
So, we’ll see Woodson (3-3) tonight. The Cavs were morose after beginning the season with losses to Wakefield and Osbourn, but don’t cry for them. If you watched Jason Aigner gut out clutch points in the playoffs last year, plus an impressive senior class in general, it’s normal to expect guys to take a while to realize they have to do more. Expect the Cavs to get better and better, but they’ll get a stiff test this evening on the road with Chris Ozgo and undefeated Washington & Lee.
Let’s face it, we’re surprised when Potomac (4-2) loses to anyone. They could have just four players available for an entire game and we’d still express some surprise when they lose. The Panthers fell to capable Edison and Osbourn last week and still will have three projected starters out until January. But, Honore’s tough non-conference slate and added minutes now for his reserves figures to create a very deep (even more than usual) and battle-tested team come February. It’s nice to watch guys like Jaylen Williams excel in new roles, too.
Congrats to Steve Miles and Osbourn Park for three wins in just the last week. After a tough year last year it is very nice to see the Jackets showing some very real improvement even after losing a top player to transfer.
Still, we don’t envy Osbourn Park’s murderous Western District slate. Battlefield, Patriot, Osbourn and Stonewall Jackson comprise the five-team district with the Jackets. Who do you have winning that regular season title? Let us know in the comments!