LC Bird Boys
L. C. Bird fell to Potomac in the 5A state championship game, its second appearance in the state final. While they fell short of their goal, Skyhawks coach Troy Manns points out the learning experience all of his returning players got. Charles Falden, the team’s leading scorer; and Tahkey Williams, a tough wing who played in the post, are gone to graduation. Manns said the team is bigger and that they’ll be more aggressive defensively.
Projected Starting Five
Mario Haskett, senior
Pinky Wiley, senior
Tyrek Williams, sophomore
Jyles Webster, senior
Jaylen Dillard, senior
Player to Watch: Johquin “Pinky” Wiley came to L.C. Bird as a scorer, but because Manns had so many scorers, he tasked him with learning the point guard position. That was a good move for the Skyhawks. A smart player, Wiley has built the needed chemistry of the team, and he’s the captain of the ship for L.C. Bird. “It goes so smooth when he’s out there,” Manns said.
Backcourt: Cam Henry, at 6-5, is poised for a big year, and he will play on the wing, but could also see time at point guard. The long, athletic Henry is a good ball handler who can shoot and get to the basket. Jaylen Dillard, coming over from Clover Hill, was the Cavaliers leading scorer last season. He will fit into the equation nicely. Mario Haskett, a Harvard-commit, is a defensive-minded player with the ability to score and an impressive vertical leap. Keep an eye on Jay Robinson as well.
Frontcourt: Tyrek Williams (6-8), who has an offer from Mount St. Mary’s, will team up with Jyles Webster, who recently committed to Concord University (N.C.). Both are long, can score, and can block shots. More size gives Manns more lineup options.
Key to Success: “As long as we defend,” said Manns, “we’ll be OK.”
Prognosis: There’s a lot of balance in Conference 12 and the 5A South region. The Skyhawks might have the toughest schedule in the state. “We’re looking forward to the challenge,” said Manns. This type of scheduling has become the norm for L.C. Bird.
Meadowbrook and Matoaca Boys and Girls Basketball Preview will appear in next week’s edition.
Last year saw another trip for L.C. Bird to the state tournament. While the Skyhawks fell to Thomas Edison in the 5A state quarterfinals, the
team’s experience grew and the young players on the roster are ready to step up this season. Graduated are the team’s two leading scorers, Angela Caraballo (Barton College) and KeKe Williams (St. Augustine). Caraballo and Williams were good for 15 and 20 points and both were skilled shooters, while Williams was also efficient in the post. Senior Brina Bentley is now the team’s elder statesman.
Projected Starting Lineup
Brina Bentley, senior, 5-9
Mya Coleman, sophomore, 5-7
Cameron Brown, freshman, 5-4
Jaden Watkins, sophomore, 5-6
Jayla Henderson, sophomore, 5-7
Player to Watch: While Brina Bentley doesn’t look imposing, she’s a force on the glass and on defense. The blue-collar forward will be the team’s leader this year and provide support underneath, an area the Skyhawks lack. Bentley doesn’t score many points, but her work ethic doesn’t go unnoticed. Coach Chevette Waller says she’ll be a mainstay on the floor all year.
Backcourt: On a very guard-centric team, sophomore Mya Coleman is another player to keep an eye on. She’s able to play on the perimeter and drive to the basket, and she’ll need that versatility this year. Sophomore Jaden Watkins is a solid, slasher-type guard with good size; she scored 15 points against St. Catherine’s in the season opener. She moves up to varsity after getting playing time on JV with a loaded backcourt last year. Madison Baum would have been the team’s third senior, but she tore her ACL in the offseason.
Frontcourt: In terms of frontcourt players, Bentley is the only prototypical forward on the team. Rebounding and defense on the block will be a team effort.
Key to success: Ball control. Waller stressed the importance of minimizing turnovers.
X-Factor: Chemistry and team work. Waller stressed again this year needed to be a collective effort.
Prognosis: In the past, it’s always appeard bleak when L.C. Bird lost players, but somehow the SKyhawks always end up in the hunt for the conference title, and typically they advance beyond. Newcomers like Jayla Henderson will assist in the team’s effort as well.