A new season is about to begin in area high school sports.
The inaugural boys Tip Off Classic will be held on Saturday, Dec. 1, at T.C. Williams. Following the Lady Titans playing a non-league game at 4 p.m. to open their season, the first of two boys games will feature the Episcopal vs. Bishop Ireton at 6 p.m. The second of two games will pit T.C. against St. Stephens & St. Agnes at 8 p.m.
Episcopal, coached by Jimmy Fitzpatrick, a recent Wake Forest grad, will attempt to improve upon last seasons 11-14 record.
Weve got our sights set pretty high this season. We want to be able to compete in the very competitive IAC (Interstate Athletic Conference) and at the end of the season we want to be able to qualify for the VIS (Virginia Independent Schools) State Tournament, said Fitzpatrick.
Fitzpatrick is very high on four players: senior center Peter Diffley, senior point guard Jordan Martinez, junior shooting guard Given Kalipinde and junior wing guard/forward Yao Sithole.
Regarding Diffley, Fitzpatrick said, Peter is 6-foot, 8-inches. Hes a traditional post player. He has great hands, good footwork and a good soft touch [on his shot].
Martinez hails from New York City and both Kalipinde and Sithole were two of the top Maroon soccer players this past season.
Bishop Ireton, under second-year head coach Mark Vincent, had one of their worst seasons in history during 06/07 campaign. The Cardinals won one league game in the very competitive Washington Catholic Athletic Conference and finished 1-17.
They also dropped their WCAC play-in game versus OConnell (three losses to the Knights in the same season). Outside of the league, the Cardinals won less than a handful of non-league games and have no where to go in the 07/08 campaign other than up.
Vincent returns one of the top multi-purpose guards in the WCAC – junior
shooting guard Javorn Farrell.
T.C. and SSSA
Both T.C. Williams and St. Stephens & St. Agnes, coached by Ivan Thomas and
Kevin McLinton, respectively, have been powers within their respective leagues over the past few seasons.
T.C. has been a force in the Patriot District and in the Northern Region since Thomas headed to TCW from Edison a few years ago. SSSA has been a force in the IAC since McLinton arrived on the scene several year ago having replaced Rory Perkins. McLinton, like Fitzpatrick, also played in the Atlantic Coast Conference a number of seasons ago while a guard at the University of Maryland. McLinton is assisted by Terry Hoffman, Rodney Puente and Bob Wood this season at SSSA.
If basketball is on the horizon, so is wrestling.
One of the top programs in the city year in and year out is the St. Stephens grappling program. Saints head coach Joe Shabelski has a number of outstanding returning wrestlers who will don the Red and White this season.
We will be led by our three senior captains, Michael Slabinski (130), John Luce (152) and Russ Leggett (189). Michael already has 82 career wins which probably places him in the top-30 or so in all-time wins here at SSSA [with a full season to go]. Michael is very dedicated to the sport. He really analyzes his opponent and he does what he has to do to get better. Michael placed second at the IAC Tournament last February and John placed third at the IAC Tournament last February. Im looking for some good things from both John and Russ, in addition to Michael, this upcoming season, said Shabelski.
Two other Saint grapplers with a lot of promise include junior Hank Couture (119/125) and freshman Justin Murphy (119). Murphy is the son of former SSSA head coach Harry Murphy.