Winning the Prep League is extremely challenging and to sustain success at the top of one of the state’s most challenging conferences over multiple years, it takes a special team.
St. Anne’s-Belfield boys basketball proved Saturday that they’re one of those teams.
“It’s huge, it’s really special for us as a program to keep building up as we go forward,” STAB’s Chance Mallory said.
The Saints won their second-straight Prep League tournament championship with a 74-64 victory over Woodberry Forest and completed an unbeaten run through the Prep League. It was STAB’s 22nd-straight win on the year. The last time the Saints lost? Back on December 10th.
STAB got this one done with a balanced offense where John St. Germain, the hero of last year’s Prep League championship game with a buzzer-beating jumper, finished with 20 points and seven assists while tournament MVP Chance Mallory had 19 points on the night. Carter Lang went for a double double of 16 points and 11 rebounds with three assists and three blocks thrown in for good measure while Austin Williford continued a red-hot two days of Prep League play with 14 points, five rebounds and four assists. Williford scored 21 in the semifinals.
Woodberry Forest, who faced the unenviable task of playing the Saints for the third time this year, flipped the script a little bit after getting largely put away early in the first two games. They got there with a zone defense that STAB big man Carter Lang simply had to take personally, especially when the Saints are one of the perimeter shooting teams in the state.
“Definitely the whole goal is to pack it in and any time I or someone gets the ball at the high post to just collapse and force it out of the paint,” Lang said.”That was definitely intentional.”
The Tigers’ approach had a major impact.
“It shook us up a little bit and it was a dogfight the whole game,” Mallory said. “Props to their coaching staff, they really put in a good defense. We just fought through it.”
The Tigers, who haven’t won a Prep League title in basketball in nearly 30 years couldn’t end that long drought but came closer than most editions of the squad than in years past, Alejandro Ford and Wallace Hardison led the Tigers with 15 and 14 points respectively while Amir Crawford had 12 points.
Woodberry, by virtue of a 24-3 record, earned the No. 6 seed in the VISAA Division I state tournament and will host Cape Henry Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m.
Meanwhile, the No. 2 Saints get a bye and will host the winner of Bishop Ireton and Trinity Episcopal in the state quarterfinals Wednesday.
“We haven’t been in this high of a seed in forever and we just have to keep bringing this intensity every single game,” Mallory said. “We’ve got three more and hopefully we get to cut down another net next Saturday.”