This season, the South Lakes’ High boys’ and girls’ basketball teams had no worries when it came to manning the point guard position. Kelcyn Manurs, the Seahawk girls’ prolific playmaker, helped South Lakes capture the regular season title and qualify for the Northern Region playoffs for the first time in a decade. Travis Williams of the South Lakes boys stood out as arguably the top point guard in the region. The Seahawk boys did not qualify for regionals, but Williams’ play was, for the most part, spectacular.
Both of the seniors were recently recognized as Honorable Mention members of the All-Connection Team.
Also named Honorable Mention on the All-Connection Team was Herndon High boys’ player Isaac Johnson, also a 12th grader.
Manurs, a team tri-captain, was named the Liberty District Girls’ Player of the Year this winter. She played a huge role in leading South Lakes to a 19-4 overall record. The Seahawks, as the district tournament’s top seed, lost to eventual tourney champion Madison in a semifinals game. A few days later, the Seahawks’ breakthrough season ended with a home loss to South County in a first round region playoff game.
Manurs, who scored 14 points in her team’s season-ending loss to the Stallions, was a terrific scorer, ballhandler and passer for the Seahawks this season. Her unselfish play and willingness to distribute the ball were keys to her team’s big season.
"She trusted her teammates," said South Lakes coach Christy Winters Scott, this season’s District Coach of the Year. "She’d have games where she’d have triple-doubles with eight or nine assists. She would find her teammates and she believed in them."
Manurs and fellow seniors Jasmine Jones and Kacey Liscomb served as team tri-captains this season.
<b>WILLIAMS</b> was a region force for the South Lakes boys. His ability to hit the three-pointer and to create his shot was perhaps unmatched in the district, and his defensive prowess and will to win were evident every time he played.
The 5-9 Williams, who averaged 19 points a game, earned First Team All-Liberty District accolades.
"He plays with a lot of poise and confidence, and he’s a competitor," said Stone Bridge coach Sonny Green, of Williams.
South Lakes coach Darryl Branch loved Williams’ all-around game.
"He’s got energy and he’s a game-changer," said Branch. "He’s a very tough kid and shoots the ball well. He’s very strong on defense and loves to take on bigger kids."
<b>HERNDON’S JOHNSON</b> led the Hornet boys to a solid 9-3 record in the Concorde District. Herndon, 13-10 overall, saw its season end with a first round region playoff loss to Stuart. The 6-3 Johnson, a forward, scored 22 points in the postseason game.
For the season, Johnson, a second-year team captain, averaged 18 points and seven rebounds per game on way to earning First Team All-District honors. He scored around the basket with a variety of moves and also developed a consistent mid-range jumper.
"He is quicker than most of his defenders and can drive to the basket. He will score at will inside," said Herndon coach Chris Whelan. "And he’s a very good defensive player."
Whelan said Johnson is a terrific on-court leader who plays hard from start to finish.
"He leads by example," said the coach. "He’s not very vocal, but the players see how much he works."
The Oakton High girls are represented by head coach Fred Priester, who has led the Cougars to the state AAA semifinals with a perfect 29-0 record, and senior standout player Erin McGartland, one of the more versatile players in the Northern Region. Priester was named The Connection Girls’ Coach of the Year, while McGartland was named to the First Team All-Connection girls’ squad.
Meanwhile, from Madison, Will Clarkson made Honorable Mention on the All-Connection boys’ team and Danielle Landry made Honorable Mention on the girls’ team.
Landry was instrumental in leading the underdog Madison girls to the Liberty District tournament title. She was the Warhawks’ lone starter back from the previous season, and a settling influence on this year’s squad, which started the season 0-5 before things began to turn around under first year Madison coach Kirsten Roberts.
A forward, Landry averaged nine points and nine rebounds per game for the 13-12 Warhawks. She played outstanding defense and earned First Team All-District honors. Following the Warhawks’ district tournament finals win over Langley, Landry, who scored 11 points against the Saxons, was named the tournament MVP.
"She’s just a workhorse and she’s all over the court," said coach Roberts, of Landry.
"She plays forward, but sometimes she has to bring the ball down the court. She is almost always our leading rebounder.
She’s 5-foot-10 going against girls who are 6-3. She’s pretty much our senior leader."
Meanwhile, the Madison boys, who were unbeaten at home this season, were led by First Team All-District player Clarkson, a senior post player who excelled as a defensive player while also averaging 19 points per game and shooting an uncanny 62 percent from the field. The 6-foot-5 inch Clarkson, Madison’s football QB last fall, saw limited basketball minutes as a junior, but emerged into a star this season for the 14-9 Warhawks.
"He’s a post player that can score as a guard," said Madison coach Chris Kuhblank. "Will does everything. He draws charges, blocks shots, rebounds and scores inside and outside."
<b>THE OAKTON HIGH GIRLS</b> are represented on the All-Connection Team by head coach Fred Priester, who has led the Cougars to the state AAA semifinals with a perfect 29-0 record, and senior standout player Erin McGartland, one of the more versatile players in the Northern Region. Priester was named The Connection Girls’ Coach of the Year, while McGartland was named to the First Team All-Connection girls’ squad.
The Cougars have a fabulous leader and all-around player in McGartland, a 5-8 forward who excels both inside and away from the paint.
"She’s a do-everything player," said Priester. "She can shoot the three and has solid post-up skills. She’s very intelligent and knows every position on the floor."
A team tri-captain, McGartland averaged 12 points and 10 rebounds per game this season. She earned MVP honors following Oakton’s Concorde District tournament finals win over Westfield. McGartland scored 16 points and pulled down nine rebounds in Oakton’s Northern Region title game win over T.C. Williams last week. In postgame ceremonies, she was named to the seven-member all-tournament team.
Her unselfish, team-first mindset has set the tone for the Cougars’ success this season.
"Erin is without a question our best leader," said Priester.
Priester earned The Connection’s Coach of the Year accolades because of his ability this season to blend his team’s experienced and new players into a cohesive winner. The Cougars have been playing their best basketball in recent weeks during the postseason, running the court when it can and also playing a solid half court game in which movement without the ball and crisp, fundamental passing has led to high percentage shots and open three-point looks.
Oakton’s region title game win over T.C. last week was the program’s third in nine years under Priester, one of the region’s best-ever girls’ basketball coaches.