Alexandria: Jones, James Combine for 30 Points at Nova Challenge

Alexandria: Jones, James Combine for 30 Points at Nova Challenge

T.C. Williams guards compete for Fairfax South All-Stars.


T.C. Williams senior Tavaris James scored 14 points for the Fairfax South All-Stars.

Tavaris James felt somewhat overwhelmed by the media attention surrounding the Nova Classic, an event featuring some of the top high school senior basketball players in Northern Virginia competing in two all-star games, a 3-point shootout and a dunk contest.

Once the action started, however, the T.C. Williams guard settled in nicely.

James and T.C. Williams teammate Jordan Jones combined to score 30 points for the Fairfax South All-Stars, which lost to the Prince William All-Stars 110-107 on April 10 at Marshall High School.

James, who said he will likely play football in college, scored 14 points on 6-for-14 shooting and grabbed five rebounds. He averaged 18 points per game during the season and earned first-team All-Conference 7 and second team All-6A North region honors.

“During warmups it was kind of overwhelming,” James said about the media attention surrounding the event, which was broadcast live, “but as soon as the game started you just block it out [and] focus on the game.”

Jones finished with 16 points, seven rebounds and three steals. He shot 6-for-16 from the field, including 4-for-9 from 3-point range. Jones, who said he will likely play basketball at a community college next year, averaged 16 points during the season and was a second-team all-conference selection.

“I felt great,” Jones said. “I knew I could shoot it, so I was going to shoot it.”

West Springfield’s Lewis Djonkam scored 19 points and grabbed 13 rebounds for the Fairfax South All-Stars. The 6-foot-9 Djonkam, who is still weighing his college options, finished with four assists, two blocks and two steals and was named team MVP.

“It was great,” Djonkam said. “Every kid on the court I love. I grew up with half the kids on the court. ... [It was my] last time playing with the kids. It was great. I loved it.”

Djonkam shot 6-for-12 from the floor, and made one of his two 3-point attempts.

“I’ve been working on that a lot,” Djonkam said about shooting 3-pointers. “When I came out today, I was like, ‘I’m going to show them what I worked on.’”

Wakefield’s Deng Nhial had 16 points for Fairfax South and West Springfield’s Spencer Askew scored 11 points and had three assists.


T.C. Williams senior Jordan Jones scored 16 points for the Fairfax South All-Stars during the Nova Challenge on April 10 at Marshall High School.

Later in the day, the Fairfax North All-Stars defeated the Loudoun County All-Stars 108-101.

Langley senior Nate Shafer scored 10 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and blocked seven shots for the Fairfax North All-Stars.

All-star games are known for run-and-gun offense, but Shafer, the 2016 6A North region Defensive Player of the Year, made life difficult for Loudoun County players who tried to score in the paint.

“I can still apply some tactics that we use [during structured basketball] to an all-star game,” Shafer said. “I typically find a guy that can’t shoot as well so I can camp in the paint and that gives me more blocks and more contested shots and more rebounds, so that sort of pads my stats in an all-star game like this, which is fun.”

Shafer, who will play at Swarthmore College, said he enjoyed making defensive plays in an offensive environment. During one possession, Shafer swatted multiple Loudoun County shots.

“Those kinds of plays get the gym on their feet,” he said, “so I like to do that.”

Blake Francis, a member of the state champion Westfield Bulldogs, earned MVP honors for Fairfax North, finishing with 23 points, six rebounds and five assists. He knocked down a 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer, cutting the Fairfax North deficit to 64-50. Fairfax North outscored Loudoun County 58-37 in the second half.

Francis, who shot 8-for-17 from the floor and 5-for-12 from 3-point range, is still weighing his college options.

“It’s good experience,” Francis said, “going against the top talent in the Northern Virginia area.”

Centreville’s William Unterkofler scored 12 points and grabbed four rebounds. He also won the dunk contest, earning a perfect score of 30 on his final attempt, when he jumped, brought the ball between his legs and threw it down with his right hand.

Unterkofler will attend Virginia Tech but doesn’t plan to play basketball. He said he could first dunk a basketball in the ninth grade.

“It was pretty cool,” said the 6-foot-5 Unterkofler. “I’ve wanted to be in a dunk contest for a long time because I practice dunking all the time and I never get to show it, so it’s really exciting to get to come out and do it.”