The Liberty District is perhaps our favorite district. With three natural rivalries and lots of school spirit throughout on display the games are always fun.
Since we’ve been a website it really has been South Lakes’ district to rule. Despite strong challenges from Washington & Lee (now Liberty) and McLean last year the Seahawks came away with another district regular season and tournament title. We’ve never known anything other than Seahawk rule–until further notice they are the automatic favorites in the district and they have the talent this year to again be very good.
Still, we can definitely see another team ending the reign of Reston. Washington & Liberty retains a top backcourt and could get over that hump. Yorktown is finally healthy and gets an influx of new talent. McLean lost a lot but has now tasted success and has talent. Langley and Herndon retain some very nice talent and we feel both could surprise some people and make some noise this year.
Whatever happens, expect novahoops.com to be out in the Liberty on the night when South Lakes-Herndon, W&L-Yorktown, and McLean-Langley get together. There’s a lot of friendly rivalry as well as old school hate there.
We love it.
SOUTH LAKES SEAHAWKS
Head Coach: Mike Desmond (1st year); 2018-2019 record: 19-9; Returnees: 7 (Liam Brennan, Hassen Kurtu, Matthew Lauture, Oliver Giaon, Jerome Scott, Joseph Dagbe, Clark Castleberry)
Long-time head coach Andrew Duggan has retired to a far corner of the same gym, but the Seahawks shouldn’t miss a beat with longtime assistant Mike Desmond now in charge. All-world guard Cam Savage is finally gone, but the backcourt is loaded with show-stopping senior Joseph Dagbe and junior Matthew Lauture returning. The flashy Dagbe is the reigning Liberty Defensive Player of the Year and is known to hit big shots. We agree with Desmond when he says Lauture is primed for a big year. He looked awesome in the Fall.
The thing that sometimes helps South Lakes get over the edge is the Seahawks often have more height/talent down low than their district opponents. This year is no different. Senior 6’6″ Jerome Scott seems ready to dominate on occasion, and the athletic 6’6″ Hassen Kurtu also returns. He can score and block shots on defense. Program depth is another reason the Seahawks are consistently good. This year Desmond is excited about a few newcomers, to include sophomore Kyle Tang. He’ll contribute as a playmaker off the bench.
Head Coach: Joe Reed (5th year); 2018-2019 record: 7-16; Returnees: 7 (Aidan Stroup, Steven Lincoln, Liam Andersen, Yared Belay, Jonathan deButts, Jack Burris, Michael Dettling)
Coach Joe Reed goes from being beset by injuries to having enviable depth to the point where crafting a rotation will be difficult. He’s always wanted to play up-tempo but will really be able to do so this year.
Junior guard Liam Andersen returns after missing most of last year to injury. He’s going to help fill a scoring void left by the graduated Ryan Van Kirk. Senior shooter Aidan Stroup figures to improve his scoring with more looks on the perimeter due to an improved Patriot inside and penetration game, as does Jack Burris. Junior forward Steven Lincoln had a great Fall and looks like he will be a force rebounding and scoring in the paint.
There are many newcomers, perhaps enough for the Patriots to win a district title. 6’6″ transfer John Sondheim (Christchurch) and JV-addition John Pius are big men who can control the paint. Quick Wakefield transfer Brandon Warner will make an immediate impact at the point, teaming with Belay there to solidify the position vacated by Van Kirk.
This is a team to keep an eye on the next couple of years.
Head Coach: Kevin Quinlan (1st year); 2018-2019 record: 7-17; Returnees: 7 (Lysander Rehnstrom, Quentin Hart, Corey Lacy, Emmanuel Anane, Jordan Owen, Aiden Grine)
Experienced first-year coach Quinlan takes over a Herndon squad that has shown flashes the last couple of years but probably under-achieved. The Hornets might be a tough out this year, though, as their guards remain capable of taking over a game.
Quentin Hart, Lysander Rehnstrom, and Corey Lacy form a solid rotation. Hart is fast and can score in droves. Rehnstrom is a big, strong guard who has looked good in the preseason. Quinlan is also high on Lacy, a junior who he describes as a leader and extremely versatile on both ends of the court. The Hornets have backup guards that can give these players a decent rest.
There’s not much beef/muscle up front. That doesn’t mean there’s not talent, though. Quinlan is especially high on 6’5″ sophomore Kyle Henson, a versatile athlete with a high motor.
Head Coach: Scott Newman (7th year); 2018-2019 record: 5-18; Returnees: 6 (Tre Vasiliadis, Jiaan Sehhat, Thomas Balistrere, Addison Wallace, Aryman Suri, Nico Machiavello)
Langley is going to sneak up on some people this year. The Saxons looked good in the Fall League and have a stable of guards that can cause trouble for anyone. Tre Vasiliadis is a senior guard who can’t be overwhelmed physically and is an excellent competitor. Newman is high also on tall guard Thomas Balistrere, who he says is one the better ball-dominant guards in the district. Suri, Machiavello, and Wallace provide depth in the backcourt.
The key is in the frontcourt as Langley is not a big team. Junior Jiaan Sehhat is really a big guard playing forward. He’s shown flashes of stardom, taking over games at times on both ends of the floor. 6’3″ Aidan Owen returns to the team after a year’s absence–he’s a big man with guard skills who Newman feels will contribute significantly. Everybody must rebound for the Saxons to have consistent success.
This is a gritty team which we think can make a surprising postseason run if some cards fall right.
Head Coach: Mike O’Brien (7th year); 2018-2019 record: 17-10; Returnees: 5 (Randy Shephard, Evan Bremser, Mason Davis, Nate Legg, Jaz Bisset)
McLean loses one of the better classes in recent school history off a team that gave South Lakes a run for its money in the district last year. Those players will be missed but the Highlanders’ taste of success bodes well for a program that is hardly devoid of talent. Still, O’Brien is rightfully concerned his team will be able to score consistently enough to make a run in the Liberty.
Junior Nate Legg is a third-year varsity player and will have to step up immediately to provide more production. Senior Randy Shephard is healthy after missing all of last year with a back injury after transferring from Gonzaga. Those two form a great foundation. O’Brien is also high on returning senior Mason Davis, a player who will play outstanding defense.
With not alot of players with extensive varsity court time, the Highlanders may take some lumps early as they gain experience and test rotations. Come February they’ll be a vastly-improved team, however.
WASHINGTON & LIBERTY GENERALS
Head Coach: Bobby Dobson (27th year); 2018-2019 record: 14-11; Returnees: 8 (Anthony Reyes, Marino Dias, Max Geisman, Vic Srinivasan, Davion Owens, Kevin Elder, William Reynolds, Henry Erwin)
New name, same old scary backcourt this year for the Generals. Reyes, Dias, and Geisman compose one of the best backcourts in Northern Virginia. They can limit turnovers, play pressure defense, control the tempo, and rain in three-pointers left and right. The three seniors are really good and can outscore a lot of teams by themselves.
We love smart 6’4″ senior forward Will Reynolds in the frontcourt. He was clutch in some important games last season and he has to contribute consistently if the Generals are to go from good to great. The rest of the returnees have ability and have shown flashes–some will have to step up a little more consistently now.
If guards win tournament games the Generals could win a bunch of them come February. More consistency is needed if Washington & Liberty is to take the district, but the talent is certainly there.