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Chantilly Boys Impressive Early on in Boys Hoops

Chargers meet two premier teams at the Gonzaga Classic.

Last year’s Northern Region boys’ basketball champions, the Chantilly Chargers, are off to a good 5-2 start this season. The team, under veteran head coach Jim Smith, defeated West Springfield, 90-55, in a non-district road contest last Friday night, Dec. 17 for its fifth victory.

Chantilly was scheduled to host Wakefield High of Arlington earlier this week on Tuesday, Dec. 21. The game versus the Warriors was to be the Chargers’ final game before the Christmas holidays break. Over the holidays, Chantilly will once again host its own tournament – The Pohanka Classic – from Dec. 28-30.

In Friday’s decisive win over West Springfield, Chantilly received an impressive, balanced scoring attack in which four players finished in double figures, led by 6-foot-8 inch senior forward Jake Weigand’s 18 points. The other big scoring nights came from junior guard Brady Caslavka (14 points), 6-11 senior center John Manning (12), and senior guard Jamie Danehower (12). Senior guards Devin Ballam and Trey Huelskamp both contributed eight points and Brian Sydnor, a sophomore, had seven.

Chantilly, which defeated Langley in last year’s region finals, opened the current season with road wins over both Madison, 51-43, on Dec. 3, and Yorktown, 49-44 in overtime on Dec. 7.

Chantilly then went 1-2 at the Gonzaga D.C. Classic, held Dec. 10-12 at American University’s Bender Arena in downtown, Wash., D.C. The Chargers lost their first game at the Classic to Holy Cross (N.Y.), 69-62, before coming back with a win the following day over St. John’s (Ma.), 51-34. In its final game at the tournament, Chantilly fell to Mount St. Joseph’s of Maryland, 53-43.

Holy Cross is regarded as one of the top high school teams in New York, while St. Joe’s is looked upon as one of the top teams in Maryland. So Chantilly, despite losing to both of those teams at the Classic, played both powerhouse programs quite well.

Last week, competing in its own Northern Region schedule again, Chantilly defeated Hayfield, 69-32, at home on Tuesday, Dec. 14, before winning big over the Spartans of West Springfield three days later on Friday.

“We are playing extremely well defensively,” said Smith, the Chantilly coach. “Our two big men - Manning and Wiegand - are a handful for teams to match up with. We need to get more consistent perimeter shooting. If we do we will be very good.”

<b>CHANTILLY</b>, over the holidays, will once again host the Pohanka Chantilly Classic Holiday Basketball Tournament. The dates of the event, in its 18th year, will be Tuesday, Dec. 28, Wednesday, Dec. 29 and Thursday, Dec. 30. All games will take place at Chantilly High School, located at 4201 Stringfellow Rd., in Chantilly.

The Pohanka Classic, which includes both boys’ and girls’ tournaments, is regarded as one of the most storied holiday tournaments in the Washington, D.C. area. This year’s tournament will feature 16 schools from Virginia, Maryland and the District in an exciting and intense three-day chase for the title. Last year’s tournament featured some of the best and most exciting basketball in its history.

Guest opponents will include out of the area teams such as Deep Run (Central Region) and Mills Godwin (Richmond), as well as local Northern Region teams such as South County Secondary and Hayfield High.

“This is traditionally one of the top holiday tournaments in the D.C. metro area and we are looking forward to seeing some talented basketball, coaches and players just as we have for 17 years,” said Pohanka Chantilly Classic Tournament Director Kurt Sporkmann. “The Chantilly boys are one of the top teams in the area. The tournament is shaping up to be very exciting. We expect the girls tournament to be one of the best ever with this field of teams.”

On the boys’ side, the defending Pohanka champion Chantilly Chargers return All-Northern Region center John Manning, along with senior teammate Jake Weigand. Rounding out the Charger starters are Devin Ballam, Jamie Danehower and Trey Huelskamp. The Chargers again have high expectations following last year’s 20-8 season in which they captured the region title.

One of the Chargers’ top obstacles to successfully defending last year’s holiday tournament title will be Hayfield, a traditional Northern Virginia powerhouse.

Led by longtime California high school coach Ron Palmer, the Hawks bring a relatively new-look team this season, having to replace all five starters from last year’s team, which didn’t lose until February.

In addition to Chantilly and Hayfield, the boys’ bracket features improving programs South County and Thomas Jefferson (Alexandria), as well as Deep Run and Mills Godwin, traditionally two of the Richmond area’s finest programs. Wilson High School from Washington, D.C. also makes its Pohanka Chantilly Classic debut. Rounding out the boy’s field is Mountain View High School from Stafford.

The girls’ tournament also features an exciting array of teams, such as Northern Region teams Langley and Annandale, as well as non-region opponents such as Hylton High of Woodbridge and the Loudoun County Raiders (Dulles District), the 2009 State AA champions. Other teams in the tournament field will be Paul VI of Fairfax, Georgetown Visitation, and Mills Godwin. Georgetown Visitation is traditionally one of the top teams in the D.C. metro area. All of the girls’ teams play an exciting brand of basketball that could make this season’s tournament the best in Pohanka Chantilly Classic history.

Admission is $7 for an all-day pass, and refreshments will be sold. Chantilly students with identification or any Chantilly Youth Association (CYA) basketball players wearing their team shirt with a paying adult will get a $3 discount.

The following schedule is for the opening round games on Tuesday, Dec. 28: Georgetown Visitation vs. Loudoun County (girls, 9 a.m.); Hylton vs. Annandale (girls, 10:45 a.m.); Mills Godwin vs. Paul VI (girls, 12:30 p.m.); Mills Godwin vs. Mountain View (boys, 2:15 p.m.); Deep Run vs. Wilson of Washington, D.C. (boys, 4 p.m.); Hayfield vs. South County (boys, 5:45); Langley vs. Chantilly (girls, 7:30); and Thomas Jefferson vs. Chantilly (boys, 9:15).

For information on games played on Wednesday and Thursday, call the Charger Hotline at 703-448-4909 or check the website.