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TC’s Yates Ready for Life’s Next ‘Journey’

T.C. Williams senior competes in two all-star games as high school comes to a close.

Liberty & Patriot All Star Ryan Yates had done his part with the basketball in his hands, scoring a game-high 24 points. But with his team in danger of losing the Northern Region all-star game, the T.C. Williams senior turned to mind games.

The Concorde and National All Stars led by two with 5.7 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter when Yorktown’s Mike Veith stepped to the line with a chance to put the game out of reach. That’s when Yates and teammate Martez Redfearn (West Potomac) approached Veith to offer some words of "encouragement."

We told him "if he missed it we’d let him party with us in Alexandria," Yates said of the duo’s attempt to disrupt Veith’s concentration.

Veith made 1 of 2 free throws, allowing the L-P All Stars a chance to tie. But they came up empty on a final 3-point attempt and the C-N All Stars won 102-99 on April 24 at Wakefield High School. Standout seniors from the Liberty and Patriot districts faced athletes with similar credentials from the Concorde and National districts. Langley’s Travis Hess coached the L-P squad and Mount Vernon’s Alfonso Smith led the C-N team.

The 6-foot-7 Yates, a first-team all-region selection, also competed in the Capital Classic on April 15. Facing some of the top talent in the Washington D.C. metro area, Yates scored 11 points in 14 minutes as a member of the Suburban All Stars, which lost to the District All Stars, 109-100.

During the Northern Region all star game, Yates playfully reminded his peers of the two regional championships he was a part of with the Titans.

"This game and the Capital Classic were two games for me to play with my area friends and have fun," Yates said. "But this one was even better, getting to play against the other kids in the region."

Yates said next year he will attend Lee Academy, a prep school in Lee, Maine, to build strength and work on his overall game. He also wants to determine which position — possibly shooting guard or small forward — best fits his size and abilities.

"It’s the end of one journey and the beginning of a new one," Yates said of his high school days winding down. "As much fun as I had [during] this journey in high school, I should have more in college and hopefully professional" basketball.

Yates’ T.C. Williams teammate Tayron Chambers also played in the Northern Region all-star game, scoring 11 points for the Liberty & Patriot All Stars.

Redfearn also scored 11 points for L-P. The 6-foot-3 guard wants to play basketball in college and major in business.

"We all shared the ball," Redfearn said of his teammates. "First time doing this, it was nice. I really had fun."

Redfearn’s fun continued after the game, when he jokingly pushed C-N All Star Robert Smith (Mount Vernon) out of the way and said "Not you!" when both were approached for an interview.

"They should have [passed the ball] to me" late in the fourth quarter, Redfearn said. "I was wearing No. 24 — Kobe Bryant — they should have just given me the ball."

Redfearn and West Potomac teammate Keevyn Hankins competed in the dunk contest prior to the game. Hankins advanced to the final against Oakton’s David Larsen, but Larsen stole the show by throwing the ball between his legs and off the glass before catching it and stuffing it home.

Hankins’ go-to dunk was the windmill, but he couldn’t get it to drop.

"It was a good experience because I’ve been wanting to do it since I was a freshman," Hankins said. "I’m just kind of mad that I lost. [The windmill has] been going down for me, it just wasn’t going down today."

West Potomac coach David Houston III, who led the Wolverines to their first Patriot District title since 1996, watched the evening’s festivities from the stands.

"We actually do some stuff throughout the year and have a little [dunk] competition every couple practices or so," he said. "It was good to see those guys out there. I think they were a little nervous because I’ve seen them do much better."

While Redfearn joked with Robert Smith after the game, Smith got the ultimate laugh with the victory. He scored six points while playing for his high school coach. The 5-foot-11 point guard said he wants to play basketball in college next season, possibly at Pennsylvania Highlands Community College. He said the better team won the all-star game and he enjoyed the environment and playing against some of the top talent in the region.

"Everybody knows our names, everybody knows who we are everywhere we go," Smith said. "Little kids look up to us. We’re having fun. … We got the better side of our districts. They were real competitive. At first they jumped out on us early but we pulled it out in the end."

Alfonso Smith, who led the Majors to a second consecutive National District title this season, said it was fun getting to coach such a talented team. He also enjoyed getting the chance to coach his point guard one more time, after the Majors ended the 2009-10 season with a loss to Chantilly in the regional semifinals.

"Robert, it seems like he’s been an extension of the program forever," Alfonso Smith said. "I was happy to have another opportunity to coach him. The last time we were on the court together we went out with a loss. To have an opportunity to come out here and get a win is special. He’s been a special part of our program over the last several years and I’m definitely going to miss him."