Like a good many of his senior teammates, Chase Ackerman has been logging minutes on the Fairfax varsity since he was a freshman.

Tough sledding again in the deep Patriot District

Last year the Lake Braddock Bruins almost made it three straight state titles for three different teams from the Patriot District, falling in the Class 6 Virginia title game to Landstown. That’s really all you need to know about this deep and dangerous district. The lowest seeded team from the Patriot come regionals will be no easy out for whichever team draws them.

South County appears to be the favorite with big talent returning with guys like Speight, Picott, and Wilson. Here’s a look at the other competitors.

Head Coach: Mike Barbee (9th year); 2018-2019 record: 18-8; Returnees: 10 (Josh Abtew, Chase Ackerman, Christian Lewis, Christian Lobban, Daniel Mbangue, Ryan Pelczynski, Ricky Peters, John Thomasson, Aaron Walker, Greg Williams

Fairfax lost most of its eight games last year to either South County or Lake Braddock. With essentially everyone back this is the year Coach Barbee and company have been waiting for. The Rebels are loaded with veteran talent, especially in the backcourt, and it’s hard to imagine the Rebels’ goal being any less than winning it all. We’re not just talking about the district, either.

This is one of those teams where it’s hard to talk about all its talent in a few paragraphs. Ackerman, Abtew, Peters, and the versatile Mbangue are well-known around the area and have been on the varsity forever. The Rebels are much more than those three now however. Barbee thinks Christian Lewis, a senior point guard who was already a starter, is ready to take his game to another level this year.

The Rebels are guard-heavy, but some of those guards are very tall and comfortable in the frontcourt. Big guard Ackerman can play down low as can 6’4″ junior Greg Williams. Barbee compares Williams favorably to Mbangue, both players that can defend at any position. The Rebels lack a traditional big man but really don’t need one in today’s game.

All the ingredients are here for a state title run on both sides of the ball. But in this district the margin between that and being upset in the district tournament is very small.

Head Coach: Ben Gildea (3rd year); 2018-2019 record: 10-12; Returnees: 5 (Tanner LaPlante, Peter Schnizer, Drew Rowson, Michael Powell, Ben LaJoie

You are going to get a tough game anytime you battle the Rams. Chock full of unsung heroes, this will again be a team that is not likely to dominate but can beat just about anybody.

Drew Rowson is a star. The tall guard is slender but extremely athletic with a great handle for his size. A good shooter as well, he is capable of averaging 20 a game if he can consistently get to the line and stay healthy. Fellow physical seniors Tanner LaPlante and Peter Schnizer will do damage as well. Coach Gildea loves LaPlante’s court vision and says Schnizer’s length and closing speed makes him one of the district’s better defenders.

Drew Rowson shown here splitting the double-team in Fall League.
Drew Rowson shown here splitting the double-team in Fall League.

The Rams are traditionally big up front but there’s some questions in the frontcourt this year. Tristan Leigh is a post player who played JV last year. A football guy, Coach Gildea thinks he can be dominant once he rounds into basketball form.

This is a good team but it must stay relatively healthy and see contributions from its less experienced players as the season progresses.

Head Coach: Brian Metress (19th year); 2018-2019 record: 25-4; Returnees: 3 (David Solomon, Jimmy Anderson, Brandon Hamilton)

A fantastic season last year for the Bruins but a great class led by James and Grable graduate, so duplicating last year’s success will be difficult. Still, the foundation for success remains under Metress, arguably NOVA’s best and most experienced coach.

6’5″ Sophomore David Solomon is already a borderline dominant post player who is rapidly learning to play guard and the wing. He can block shots in whatever position he’s defending at. Xavier Dargue is a 6’7″ forward who Metress says has turned heads with his improved play. Those two’s length alone will cause problems for a lot of teams, and returnee Jimmy Anderson can help them on the boards.

Braddock's David Solomon figures to be one of the district's best this season.
Braddock’s David Solomon figures to be one of the district’s best this season.

It’s the Lake Braddock up-tempo pace and offense that can wear out other teams by the fourth quarter. The three-point shot is a point of emphasis for the Bruins; we think there are several candidates capable of scoring in the Bruins’ backcourt. But a lot of punch there is gone and the leadership of James and Grable will be missed.

Head Coach: Doug Craig (15th year); 2018-2019 record: 11-13; Returnees: 5 (Donovan Boyce, Ethan Lash, James Jin, Bobby Case, K John Faulkner)

A lot of talent graduated and forward Jack Jensen transferred to Paul VI, but the cupboard is never bare in the Lifetime Hoops circuit. Guard Donovan Boyce returns, and he has proven he can score and hit consistently from the perimeter. He’ll have to step up as a leader with extended minutes this year.

Coach Craig doesn’t necessarily expect him to be a dominant scorer, however. He wants his squad to be unselfish, share the ball and develop multiple consistent threats on offense. JV talent from last year will help–the junior Cavs had a nice 12-4 season in 2018-2019. 6’4″ junior Joe Pesansky is the starting quarterback on the football team. He’s a versatile athlete who can play inside or out. Sophomore point guard Andre Pacheco is another player that will play immediately. Craig says he can be a disruptive defender and he’ll be given enormous responsibility right away.

This team will take a while to adjust but expect them to play tougher and tougher as the season progresses. It helps that Craig, one of the region’s best coaches, is adept at forcing you to play his tempo.

Head Coach: Durmia Marshall (6th year); 2018-2019 record: 5-18; Returnees: 4 (Omar Chambers, Reed Dexter, Austin Ohlmeyer, Tyler Treasure)

Another one of the region’s best coaches is Marshall, who may have been our Coach of the Year last season despite the 5-18 record. That’s because even with a ton of injuries he had his team consistently play some of the region’s best teams to tough, close contests.

West Springfield's Omar Chambers is one of the Spartans' talented but young returnees.
West Springfield’s Omar Chambers is one of the Spartans’ talented but young returnees.

Expect more of the same this year. The Spartans are capable of shooting the ball very well from outside, which can keep them in just about any game. Marshall says Ohlmeyer is one example of that, and he loves how his young guard is already fundamentally sound. The returnees are all solid players, and Marshall likes newcomers Gibraltar Coleman (wing from Woodgrove) and Adrian Meijia.

The Spartans are still fairly young so the road remains uphill. They will have success if they can develop and play with consistency, according to Coach Marshall.

–Chris Jollay


  1. this article is terrible, talked about fairfax and didnt even mention abtew, didnt tall about soco, and woodson has more tough seniors!!!! plz stop sucking drew rowson, “extremely athletic” ?

    1. Yup, did forget to list Abtew in the “been around forever” part. Will fix.

      Didn’t talk about SoCo much because that was the only school not to return the survey we sent.

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