T.C. WILLIAMS (23-5) vs. LANGLEY (20-7)
Time: 7:00 pm Tuesday
Location: Robinson HS
Why T.C. Williams will win: Well, for starters the Titans just beat Marshall by 23, a team Langley lost to twice this season. The Titans are capable of playing very good defense as well as scoring points, which they demonstrated by shutting out the Statesmen in the third quarter. Locally the Titans have only fallen to Woodbridge and Edison, teams more athletic than Langley. The Saxons have height and frontcourt ability but not enough length to likely cause the Levenberry sisters too many problems down low. Trinity Palacio seems committed to scoring as necessary to propel her team to victory, and she can be electric. The Titans bring shooting, scoring punch and defense to the table with their bench. That bench back backs up a starting five as balanced as any in the region–the Saxons will have a difficult time limiting not just Palacio but all the Titans’ weapons.
Why Langley will win: Because they almost always do in big games, including last week over Woodbridge against a Vikings team that bested T.C. in a regional final. The Saxons’ coaching staff is top-notch and they have a coach on the floor in point guard Jordyn Callaghan, who will make sure the game is played on Langley’s terms. The talented point guard has more playoff experience in games like this than any NOVA player left playing, guys or girls. The Saxons play smart team defense and they have an underrated cast of capable players around Callaghan that can hurt you inside and out. They have the talent and ball-handling to handle full-court defensive pressure, which T.C. Williams likes to apply. The Saxons also have the shooting to bother zones and the surgical offense to carve apart man.
What to expect: A game in the low-to-mid forties, perhaps even high thirties. Extra defensive attention and help defense will be understandably important to try and limit both Palacio and Callaghan. We’ll assume Callaghan plays Palacio and the Titans’ Sasha Bates plays Callaghan. The Titans would love to up the tempo and get the game into at least the fifties, where they probably win. Tough to do that against Langley, though, and we don’t expect T.C. to be able to get the game going too fast. Whichever team, if either, can get even a four-to-six point lead in the fourth quarter and force the other team to extend its defense should be in really good shape.
Our prediction: We’re flat-out dumb to bet against Langley but we’re going to here. We think the Levenberry twins do too much damage down low for the Saxons to cope. T.C. Williams 49, Langley 42
EDISON (23-5) vs. FREEDOM-SOUTH RIDING (27-3)
Time: 7:00 pm Tuesday
Location: Champe HS
Why Edison will win: Because it’s hard to imagine anyone around here beating Edison twice in a row. Last week’s game was at Freedom, which gave the FSR Eagles an advantage. This game will be played at a neutral site with Dianne Lewis having a little more time to adjust to her opponent. Carole Miller had seven points in the loss to Freedom–that simply isn’t going to happen again. Despite a fairly young roster Edison still has a good bit of big game and playoff experience, more than Freedom.
Why Freedom will win: Miller is a great defender, but Freedom has multiple talented players that can hurt you down low. Edison has limited height unless it plays Tamrin Henderson off the bench more. FSR’s backcourt has gotten better and better, with Kamryn Meador looking like a budding star. Jaelyn Batts can hurt you inside and out and dropped 21 against Edison’s potent defense last week. FSR is scorching hot and hasn’t lost in 2018. They also led most of the game against Edison in the regional final. The neutral site at Champe will play more like a FSR home game, since the Edison boys are also in action and Champe is a good distance away from Springfield.
What to expect: As good as the other match-ups are tonight, this may be the game we’d most like to see and the one we’re least sure how it will play out. Edison will still try and apply pressure to Freedom and go on one of those patented runs it’s known for. The Eagles (Edison) need to score enough to set up their pressure, however, and expect them to try and establish Miller early. Freedom just needs to control the ball and make some perimeter shots when necessary. They’ll try and pound the ball down low and get to the line often, as they did in last week’s game. They’ll also get the ball to Batts as much as possible. That’s always their M.O., but the more Batts makes Miller work on defense the less likely she’ll be able to carry Edison on offense.
Our prediction: Using last week’s 56-46 Freedom victory as a guide we certainly would expect Freedom to prevail as long as its backcourt is able to handle Edison’s pressure again. If it can and the Eagles (FSR) are able to hit a few threes to open up things inside we don’t see Edison pulling out the win. It just feels like it is unlikely Freedom can stifle Miller as well as they did in the first meeting, though. We deem it likely Edison is able to perform better this time around in general and go on one of its spurts triggered by its defense. Does that equate to a win? Who knows. We’ll take Edison, though, in what might be a case of Fairfax bias we’ll come to regret. Edison 54, FSR 51