Coming off of a great 23-3 season, the Skyhawk boys will be looking for vengeance. They went out in the 5A regional semifinals in a double-overtime heart-breaker against Henrico in what many felt was the essentially the state championship game. The Warriors cruised through the playoffs to the title.
Despite the loss of Kenny Williams (UNC) and C.J. Miles (Roanoke College) the Skyhawks will simply reload, not rebuild.
Projected Starting Five
G – Johquin Wiley
G – Mario Haskett
F – Charles Falden
F – Tahkey Williams
C – Jyles Webster
Top Player: Mario Haskett is this year’s top player. Standing at 6-3, he is a versatile guard who has gotten offers from several high Division I programs including Minnesota, VCU, and Cincinnati. Despite a traditionally balanced attack, Haskett should fill Williams’ slot of “lead scorer” and should fill the basket nightly.
Backcourt: Johquin Wiley, who has mid-major offers from Longwood and JMU, is a smooth, traditional style point guard with a scoring touch. He rounds out an incredibly talented backcourt with Haskett.
Front court: Jyles Webster is a big man at center that will do anything he can to come down with the rebound, and Bird will look for him to be a force on both the offensive and defense glass. Charles Falden is also a D-1 prospect who had a breakout year and is L.C. Bird’s leading returning scorer at 13 points per game, playing the two or three primarily. Tahkey Williams is an imposing post presence and continues to develop.
Bench: The Skyhawks have a lot of guys who got moved up from JV last year, and coach Troy Manns will be looking to see who wants to step up and get minutes off the bench.
Key to Success: Defense. “If our defense doesn’t play well, we will lose,” coach Troy Manns said. The Skyhawks will need to put a large focus on playing disciplined defense and putting enough pressure on the ball in their typically grueling practices.
X-Factor: Experience. L.C. Bird has a lot of depth. Everyone starting this year played significant minutes either starting or off the bench last year.
Prognosis: “The team isn’t as skilled as last year,” said Manns, “But less is more this year.” The cupboard is anything but bare in Chesterfield and this year’s version of the Skyhawks will look to repeat their playoff run in Conference 12 and the 5A South Region.
The Lady Skyhawks nearly reached the promised land last year, but fell just short with a loss in the 5A state championship to Princess Anne. They graduated two key seniors in Virginia Gatorade Player of the Year Taja Cole who’s at Louisville and center Tyra Shelton who’s at Queens University of Charlotte.
Projected Starting Five
G – Madison Baum
G – Angela Caraballo
G – Khali Robinson
F – Brina Bentley
F – Keke Williams
Top Player: Angela Caraballo is the player to watch for the Bird girls’ basketball team. Last year she was second on the team in scoring, only behind Cole. Caraballo is a skilled shooter, especially from outside the arc and is probably underrated at her skill in driving the basketball.
Backcourt: Madison Baum (5-5) is small but gritty and was a spark plug many times for the Skyhawks last year. Despite her lack of size, she’s a capable defender. Caraballo will play the two, and much of the offense will flow through her.
Frontcourt: Keke Williams is going to be a big part of the offense and defense. The underrated Williams is talented inside and out. She’s on the radar of smaller colleges and should be even mores by season’s end. Brina Bentley should see an expanded role on both sides of the ball.
Bench: “We have tenacity and lots of energy coming off the bench,” said coach Chevette Waller. Takeah Wallace is one player to watch off the pine for the Skyhawks.
Key to Success: Defense. Losing Taja Cole was a big hit to team defense, but L.C. Bird will still play an aggressive style of defense, looking to pressure teams into mistakes.
X-Factor: Experience. With just two seniors graduating last year, there’s a good bit of chemistry already. L.C. Bird will build upon that chemistry to drive forward.
Prognosis: This season might be the first year in a considerable amount of time that Chevette Waller hasn’t had a dominating or go-to-player. She will look for Caraballo and Williams to step up to lead the flock this year, and a possible showdown with Highland Springs for the Conference 12 crown.