Ireton boys’ hoops squad bests ACHS

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Ireton boys’ hoops squad bests ACHS
The Titans squad huddle around a fallen player during a matchup with Bishop Ireton. (Photo/ Ryan Hopper)
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By Ryan Hopper 

Bishop Ireton defeated Alexandria City High School 66- 53 in front of a packed crowd at Godley Gymnasium Saturday night. Ireton exacted revenge on ACHS, which beat the Cardinals 57-54 on the Titans’ home floor last December. 

Both teams have high expectations for this season, despite facing schedules that feature many of the Washington, D.C. area’s best teams. 

The experienced Titans were ranked 14th in the Washington Post’s preseason top 20, with almost all of its primary contributors returning, except for forward Finn O’Brien and guard Kullen Robinson. The latter now plays for Hood College, a Division III school in Frederick, Maryland. 

ACHS is also the defending regular-season champion of the Patriot District, regarded as the most challenging in Virginia. The district has four teams currently ranked in this week’s NOVA Hoops “NOVA Nineteen,” with Fairfax High School also receiving votes in the poll. 

The Cardinals, a promising young team with seven sophomores and a freshman, are looking to continue to develop while improving on their 15-15 record from last season, including a 5-12 record in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference, widely regarded as one of the toughest basketball conferences in the nation. 

With Ireton leading 15-11 following the first quarter, the teams matched each other’s talents in the second, especially in the backcourt. When Ireton guards Jamari Hodnett, Silas Devonish, and St. Joseph’s signee Mekai Johnson would make a play, the ACHS trio of sophomore Darius Bivins and seniors Kye Robinson and Sean Burbage would respond. This balance and good team defense from each side kept the game tight, with the Cardinals holding onto a 26-23 lead entering halftime. 

ACHS opened the second half with its best stretch of the game, a 17-8 run in the first six minutes to take a 43-37 lead, with Bivins and Robinson consistently getting to their spots to score. Bivins, Robinson and Burbage largely carried the Titans’ offense throughout the game, contributing all but two of the team’s 53 points. Bivins and Robinson, touted as one of the area’s best backcourts, would finish with 22 and 19 points, respectively. 

The Titans’ run would come to an end under devastating circumstances. Thomas Farrow, an ACHS senior who had just checked into the game, and Matthew Mena, a freshman center for Ireton, collided in midair, trying to catch a cross-court pass, sending Farrow to the floor. He landed awkwardly on his left leg, visibly producing a serious injury. The game was immediately halted as medical personnel from both sidelines rushed to treat Farrow, covering his lower leg with a towel. 

Paramedics arrived at the scene minutes later and took steps to treat and wrap the injury while hundreds of spectators and both teams anxiously looked on. Farrow was then carefully lifted onto a stretcher as the Titan student section chanted “We love you Thomas,” which was subsequently matched by the Ireton student section. The entire delay lasted approximately 15 minutes. 

The game resumed with ACHS up six with 1:44 left in the third quarter, and the Cardinals would cut the deficit to three by the end of the quarter. It remained tight until Ireton started to pull away with three minutes left in the game. After Burbage pulled down one of his seven defensive rebounds, Hodnett stripped him, and made the ensuing layup, giving the Cardinals a three-point lead. 

Two minutes later, Devonish, who, along with Bivins, is ranked as one of the top five sophomore guards in the state by Prep Hoops, got a steal near half-court and accelerated to the rim, making the layup while drawing a foul, sending the Ireton student section into a frenzy. He would convert the three-point play to give BI a commanding nine-point lead, effectively closing the door on any Titans comeback. 

A pair of free throws punctuated the Cardinals’ 26-10 run in the last 10 minutes of the game, handing the ACHS its first loss of the season. Ireton head coach Dwayne Bryant, who coached ACHS in the late 1990s, is encouraged by his young team’s start to the season. 

“We’re feeling pretty good,” Bryant said. “To beat a quality team like that this early in the season obviously gives you a little bit of confidence. And they have terrific guards, and they play hard. I still don’t think we’ve played our best ball yet, but to be 5-0 at this point, we’re pretty satisfied with that.” 

Bryant contends that one of the main reasons for Ireton’s win was good defensive play down the stretch, something he thinks will help his team achieve its goals this season. 

“I’m really happy with this group,” Bryant said. “They believe in each other, and we believe in them as a coaching staff. It’s been fun this season so far, and we’re just hoping that we can continue to play together, can continue to play unselfishly, continue to play tough defense and we’ll let the chips fall where they may after that.” 

The game was a philanthropic event for Hoops for the Heart, a program in which schools partner with the American Medical Association to raise money for education and research for heart disease. Following the game, it was announced that Bivins was the player of the game for ACHS and Hodnett was the player of the game for the victorious Cardinals. 

Ireton is now 5-0, including wins over Flint Hill, which beat St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes School, and a convincing victory over two-time defending Virginia 6A state champions Hayfield. With this hot start, the Cardinals now sit at fourth in this week’s NOVA Hoops “NOVA Nineteen” rankings. 

Ireton now looks forward to a trip to Philadelphia to play St. Joseph’s Prep and Roman Catholic this weekend before returning home next week for a rivalry game against SSSAS on December 19 before beginning WCAC play. 

ACHS is now 1-1, having handily beaten Oakton by 25 points in its first contest. The Titans will go up King Street for a rivalry game at Wakefield Friday night before opening district play on December 18 at home against Fairfax. 

-rhopper@utexas.edu 

All statistics are courtesy of maxpreps.com 

 Bishop Ireton defeated Alexandria City High School 66- 53 in front of a packed crowd at Godley Gymnasium Saturday night. Ireton exacted revenge on ACHS, which beat the Cardinals 57-54 on the Titans’ home floor last December. 

Both teams have high expectations for this season, despite facing schedules that feature many of the Washington, D.C. area’s best teams. 

The experienced Titans were ranked 14th in the Washington Post’s preseason top 20, with almost all of its primary contributors returning, except for forward Finn O’Brien and guard Kullen Robinson. The latter now plays for Hood College, a Division III school in Frederick, Maryland. 

ACHS is also the defending regular-season champion of the Patriot District, regarded as the most challenging in Virginia. The district has four teams currently ranked in this week’s NOVA Hoops “NOVA Nineteen,” with Fairfax High School also receiving votes in the poll. 

The Cardinals, a promising young team with seven sophomores and a freshman, are looking to continue to develop while improving on their 15-15 record from last season, including a 5-12 record in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference, widely regarded as one of the toughest basketball conferences in the nation. 

With Ireton leading 15-11 following the first quarter, the teams matched each other’s talents in the second, especially in the backcourt. When Ireton guards Jamari Hodnett, Silas Devonish, and St. Joseph’s signee Mekai Johnson would make a play, the ACHS trio of sophomore Darius Bivins and seniors Kye Robinson and Sean Burbage would respond. This balance and good team defense from each side kept the game tight, with the Cardinals holding onto a 26-23 lead entering halftime. 

ACHS opened the second half with its best stretch of the game, a 17-8 run in the first six minutes to take a 43-37 lead, with Bivins and Robinson consistently getting to their spots to score. Bivins, Robinson and Burbage largely carried the Titans’ offense throughout the game, contributing all but two of the team’s 53 points. Bivins and Robinson, touted as one of the area’s best backcourts, would finish with 22 and 19 points, respectively. 

The Titans’ run would come to an end under devastating circumstances. Thomas Farrow, an ACHS senior who had just checked into the game, and Matthew Mena, a freshman center for Ireton, collided in midair, trying to catch a cross-court pass, sending Farrow to the floor. He landed awkwardly on his left leg, visibly producing a serious injury. The game was immediately halted as medical personnel from both sidelines rushed to treat Farrow, covering his lower leg with a towel. 

Paramedics arrived at the scene minutes later and took steps to treat and wrap the injury while hundreds of spectators and both teams anxiously looked on. Farrow was then carefully lifted onto a stretcher as the Titan student section chanted “We love you Thomas,” which was subsequently matched by the Ireton student section. The entire delay lasted approximately 15 minutes. 

The game resumed with ACHS up six with 1:44 left in the third quarter, and the Cardinals would cut the deficit to three by the end of the quarter. It remained tight until Ireton started to pull away with three minutes left in the game. After Burbage pulled down one of his seven defensive rebounds, Hodnett stripped him, and made the ensuing layup, giving the Cardinals a three-point lead. 

Two minutes later, Devonish, who, along with Bivins, is ranked as one of the top five sophomore guards in the state by Prep Hoops, got a steal near half-court and accelerated to the rim, making the layup while drawing a foul, sending the Ireton student section into a frenzy. He would convert the three-point play to give BI a commanding nine-point lead, effectively closing the door on any Titans comeback. 

A pair of free throws punctuated the Cardinals’ 26-10 run in the last 10 minutes of the game, handing the ACHS its first loss of the season. Ireton head coach Dwayne Bryant, who coached ACHS in the late 1990s, is encouraged by his young team’s start to the season. 

“We’re feeling pretty good,” Bryant said. “To beat a quality team like that this early in the season obviously gives you a little bit of confidence. And they have terrific guards, and they play hard. I still don’t think we’ve played our best ball yet, but to be 5-0 at this point, we’re pretty satisfied with that.” 

Bryant contends that one of the main reasons for Ireton’s win was good defensive play down the stretch, something he thinks will help his team achieve its goals this season. 

“I’m really happy with this group,” Bryant said. “They believe in each other, and we believe in them as a coaching staff. It’s been fun this season so far, and we’re just hoping that we can continue to play together, can continue to play unselfishly, continue to play tough defense and we’ll let the chips fall where they may after that.” 

The game was a philanthropic event for Hoops for the Heart, a program in which schools partner with the American Medical Association to raise money for education and research for heart disease. Following the game, it was announced that Bivins was the player of the game for ACHS and Hodnett was the player of the game for the victorious Cardinals. 

Ireton is now 5-0, including wins over Flint Hill, which beat St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes School, and a convincing victory over two-time defending Virginia 6A state champions Hayfield. With this hot start, the Cardinals now sit at fourth in this week’s NOVA Hoops “NOVA Nineteen” rankings. 

Ireton now looks forward to a trip to Philadelphia to play St. Joseph’s Prep and Roman Catholic this weekend before returning home next week for a rivalry game against SSSAS on December 19 before beginning WCAC play. 

ACHS is now 1-1, having handily beaten Oakton by 25 points in its first contest. The Titans will go up King Street for a rivalry game at Wakefield Friday night before opening district play on December 18 at home against Fairfax. 

-rhopper@utexas.edu 

All statistics are courtesy of maxpreps.com 

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