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HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL: All-stars will play with pride in game

Basketball all-star games are typically affairs where little defense is played and participants favor highlight-reel sequences over fundamentals.

But the inaugural Area All-Star Classic is shaping up as a different type of event.

The game will be held Saturday at 6 p.m. at Riverbend. There will be AAU contests leading up to it, beginning at 10 a.m.

The contest will feature seniors from Fredericksburg-area schools that play in groups 3A and 4A vs. those from groups 5A and 6A.

The 5A and 6A programs were short on standout seniors, so Colonial Beach’s Montie Gould and Fredericksburg Christian’s Chris Cheetham will join that roster.

“The reception from the community has been great,” said game organizer and Riverbend assistant coach Nat Jackson. “The closer we get to the event the more support we’re getting. A lot of volunteers are coming in to help, so it’s getting pretty intense right now.”

The same could be said for practice sessions each teams held separately at Riverbend on Wednesday night. Jackson said afterward some players were eager for more practice time.

Culpeper head coach James Thompson installed his fast-break offense with the 3A/4A roster. Colonial Forge coach Jason John taught a few of the sets that allowed his Eagles to capture the Group 6A state championship last month.

Thompson will be joined on the sideline by King George coach Darren Berkley and Chancellor’s Rob Reich. Riverbend’s Eric Davis and Massaponax’s Darren Hickman will assist John.

Thompson said he’s already challenged his team.

“I told them, ‘You guys are going to be college freshmen in a couple of months. If you can’t run this basic stuff you’re pretenders. You’re pretending you want to play college ball,’” Thompson said. “So we’ll see how it goes.”

One Division III assistant coach was on hand for Wednesday’s practices. Berkley said a few other college coaches are expected to attend the game on Saturday.

Massaponax guard Aaron McFarland aims to make an impression on the defensive end. He said he’s already targeted Culpeper standout Henry Butler, who is one of four 1,000-point scorers in the contest. Gould, Anthony Howard (King George) and Kyle Talley (Courtland) are the others.

McFarland said it’s “fun” battling defensively so he’s going to play his game, but added he may temper it a little bit if the action calls for it.

“If somebody gets hot I’m not going to try to kill their day completely,” McFarland said. “But if things start to get really competitive then we’re going to have to clamp down on defense. I’ve already got my eye on [Butler]. He’s not as tall as I thought he would be.”

McFarland said getting an opportunity to know players he wasn’t familiar with before has been the most satisfying part of the experience thus far. He said he knew many of his 5A/6A teammates through regular-season contests or playing pickup games in the area, but wasn’t as familiar with Gould and Cheetham.

“It was a good chance to bond with Montie and Chris,” McFarland said of Wednesday’s practice.

Berkley said an area all-star game has been long overdue. He said he enjoyed playing in two such games as a high school senior in Pennsylvania.

Former Caroline coach Richard Fortune organized a boys and girls contest 10 years ago, but the event was discontinued when he accepted a job as an assistant coach at Virginia State University.

Berkley said the 3A/4A players are excited because they want to make a statement even though the 5A/6A team will be without Mountain View standout point guard Lucas Brown who had a prior commitment.

“I think the 3A and 4A kids want to prove they’re every bit as good as the 5A and 6A kids,” Berkley said. “I think it’s going to be competitive.”

Jackson is hoping it becomes an annual event. He said he’d like to add a girls game next season depending on how Saturday goes. He said he won’t measure the game’s success by attendance, but by the way it’s embraced by the participants and those who come to watch.

“I just want the energy to be right,” Jackson said. “If the energy is right and everybody is excited to be there and everybody has a good time, I’ll deem it a success.”


Taft Coghill Jr.: 540/374-5526






Tony Barnett, Massaponax

Buck Buchanan, Riverbend

Chris Cheetham, Fredericksburg Christian

Damen Daniel, Colonial Forge

Tyler Duncan, Riverbend

Quan Evans, Stafford

Montie Gould, Colonial Beach

Michael Holmes, Riverbend

Aaron McFarland, Massaponax

Logan Seacrist, Massaponax

Coaches: Jason John, Colonial Forge; Eric Davis, Riverbend; Darren Hickman, Massaponax




Bradley Anderson, Spotsylvania

Henry Butler, Culpeper

Alan Courtney, Spotsylvania

Anthony Howard, King George

Josh James, Chancellor

Devin Kennedy, Spotsylvania

Matt King, Chancellor

Aason Pankey, Caroline

Terrell Robinson, Courtland

Kyle Talley, Courtland

Coaches: James Thompson, Culpeper; Darren Berkley, King George; Rob Reich, Chancellor