Following a difficult start due partly to a lack of manpower as a result of the extended football season last fall, the Lake Braddock Secondary boys’ basketball team is slowly rounding into form.
The Bruins (6-7) were somewhat short-handed, suiting just seven varsity players to begin the season as a result of several team members being unavailable because they were helping the school’s football team win a second consecutive Northern Region title and qualify for the state playoffs. On the hardwood, the Bruins did not even have a full group to practice with.
But eventually Lake Braddock got back to or close to full strength. The Bruins opened the season 2-4, including a lopsided 68-40 home loss to Herndon in their second game on Dec. 7.
But the team, following its first six games, has won four of its past seven games since to stabilize somewhat. Head coach Brian Metress said his squad played particularly well in a recent 63-57 Patriot District home loss to T.C. Williams on Jan. 7 and was also pleased with the Bruins’ overall play in a 77-63 district win at South County last Thursday, Jan. 13. And earlier last week, Lake Braddock handled Lee, 70-46, in a district road game on Jan. 10.
In the win over a strong, unbeaten T.C. Williams squad, Lake Braddock led by double digits at one point. The Bruins jumped out to a 16-7 lead after one quarter and carried a 30-22 advantage into the half. But the Titans (11-0) came back to win in the second half despite trailing with just five minutes remaining in the game. Nonetheless, it was a good showing by Lake Braddock, which received 22 points from senior guard Cory Bonds and 10 apiece from senior center Bobby Freedman and senior forward Ibrahim Wehelie. Jamal Pullen led T.C. with 20 points.
The Bruins followed the close loss to T.C. Williams with the wins over Lee and South County. Four Bruins finished in double digit scoring in the win over the Lancers – Bonds with 20 points, along with Freedman (15), senior forward Matt Zanellato (13) and junior forward Tyler Snow (11). Lee’s leading scorers were Maseer Ghorab (14 points) and David Johnson (8). In the win over the Stallions, Freedman led the way with 17 points, followed by big games from Zanellato (15), senior forward Chris Williams (13) and Bonds (13). For the Stallions, Marqueice Johnson scored 22 points and Nik Biberaj had 15.
Lake Braddock, with the addition of football players Bonds, Zanellato and Chris Williams, now has much more depth and athleticism and is in a position to hold its own against any team in either the district or region. The Bruins, with a full line-up available, have been able to run the court better and utilize their team speed.
In the T.C. Game, in fact, Lake Braddock pressed the entire game which caused problems for the talented Titans.
From here on out Lake Braddock, perhaps an unheralded squad because of its slow start, should be much more competitive and a definite factor in the district.
Lake Braddock was scheduled to play district home games this week against Annandale on Wed., Jan. 19 and W.T. Woodson this Friday, Jan. 21.