T.C. Williams Boys Basketball Preview

Ready-made replacements step in for departed Titans

By Michael Beller

The Titans, winners of the Northern Region three straight years from 2007 through 2009, did lose Ryan Yates, Tayron Chambers, Cortez Taylor, Billy Rowland and Darius Porter from last year's team. But, as always, they have ready-made replacements in Tyrell Sitton, Daquan Kerman and Tyler Driver.

"For Daquan, it's his normal job. Run the show, keep the defense on their heels, attack the basket," King said. "Tyler's strength is his overall basketball IQ. He's a guy who can fill many roles. He can run the point, come in as a shooting guard. "He knows his role and plays it very well."


Boys' basketball preview

AAA Patriot District


Top teams

W.T. Woodson (12-13)  Annandale (14-5)  T.C. Williams (2-16)

[G] D'Angelo Boyce, Annandale, 6-2, Sr.  [G] Daryl Copeland, West Potomac, 5-10, Sr.
[G] John Schoof, W.T. Woodson, 6-6, Sr.  [G] Tyrell Sitton, T.C. Williams, 6-3, Sr.  [F] Karl Ziegler, Annandale, 6-5, Sr.

Several coaches said T.C. Williams, region champs from 2007-09, should remain the favorite, and the Titans will rely on Sitton to step into the role left by Ryan Yates last season. The Titans forfeited 12 games last season due to ineligible players. Keep an eye on point guard Daquan Kerman and Tyler Driver to provide leadership.


T.C. Williams Thwarts South County, 74-63

By Brian Belefski

South County’s first-quarter struggles were replicated again in the Stallions’ 74-63 loss to T.C. Williams. For the second straight game, the Stallions were outscored 19-6 in the first quarter, but came back to take a short lead midway in the third quarter before the undefeated Titans jumped back in control of the game to take early season Patriot District supremacy.

After T.C. Williams’ (10-0, 5-0 Patriot) dominant first quarter, the Stallions rode the back of power forward Marqueice Johnson, who scored a game-high 26 points. Johnson had eight points in the second quarter, and Nik Biberaj scored nine to help build a 23-11 South County (8-5, 3-2 Patriot) scoring advantage to close the T.C. Williams lead to 30-29 at halftime.

With 7:20 remaining in the third quarter, Biberaj’s (15 points) put-back layup gave South County its first lead of the game at 31-30. In a back-and-forth third quarter, the Stallions retook the lead later at 39-38, but T.C. Williams’ reserve guard Tyler Driver (13 points) came through in the clutch with a pair of 3-pointers late in the quarter to put the Titans up 47-43 entering the final quarter. “He was big coming off the bench to give us a spark offensively and get us scoring,” T.C. Williams Coach Julian King said. “Once a kid makes a shot or two, what happens he tends to get a little better on defense.”

T.C. Williams had little answers for Johnson defensively, but the difference in the game was the Titans making capable 3-pointers when they mattered. T.C. Williams made six 3-pointers compared to only one deep shot by South County for the game. Tyrell Sitton’s three with 5:40 energized T.C. Williams to a 56-49 lead with 5:40 left in the game and later Jordan Byrd (13 points) hit a triple to give the Titans a 64-57 lead halfway through the fourth quarter. Later in the quarter, forward Rick Mathews (8 points) came up with two powerful blocked shots for the Titans to make sure the Stallions wouldn’t have a late-game run.


Titans Claim Patriot District Title

By Brian Belefski

When the outcome of a game is still to be decided, confidence is a trait that can will a team to victory. Leading by four points with less than three minutes remaining in the Patriot District tournament championship, T.C. Williams guard Tyrell Sitton demonstrated a keen sense of senior leadership needed to command a game. Sitton’s arching 3-pointer on the left elbow with 2:41 left in the fourth quarter started a 13-4 run to end the game and give the Titans a 69-56 win over Annandale. The win over the Atoms gives T.C. Williams its fifth Patriot District tournament championship in the past six seasons.

After leading 31-16 with 2:10 remaining in the first half, it looked like T.C. Williams would easily humble the Atoms. Junior small forward T.J. Huggins came off the bench to score eight quick points to help the Titans stretch their large lead and create momentum. But the Atoms were far from done. Annandale closed out the second quarter on an 11-0 run that was started by a Sanar Shamdeen 3-pointer and finished with a Karl Ziegler offensive rebound for a layup at the end of the quarter to narrow T.C. Williams’ lead to 31-27 at halftime.

Ziegler’s drive through the lane for a layup with 5:35 remaining in the third quarter tied the game at 33. With the help of senior point guard D’Angelo Boyce (15 points) and senior forward Melvin Robinson (12 points), Annandale used a 17-2 run to get even with the top-seeded Titans.

The Titans broke free briefly after the Atoms’ gutsy run. T.C. Williams followed up a made 3-pointer by reserve guard Jordan Byrd with an alley-oop from Daquan Kerman to Jamal Pullen to help the Titans get back into their athletic tempo and give them a 46-37 advantage.

Even with the Titans in a groove, Annandale didn’t back down. Karl Ziegler’s physical attributes were displayed when he was fouled after getting an offensive rebound and converted on a shot for a three-point play. Ziegler’s nine third-quarter points helped the Atoms get back into the game with the score 46-42 entering the fourth quarter.

Then T.C. Williams stepped up their renowned defense. Ten times this season the Titans held an opponent to less than 50 points. They almost did it again in the championship game.

After Sitton made his crucial 3-pointer to provide the momentum in the closing minutes, the Titans got a major spark from point guard Tyler Driver. The senior drove hard on the baseline and got hacked while making a layup for a three-point play that gave T.C. Williams a 62-52 lead with 2:11 remaining in the game. “We look to play hard from beginning to the end,” Driver said. “It’s not just the last five minutes. To finish out the game like that is amazing.”


T.C. Williams, Annandale boys advance to Northern Region title game

By Paul Tenorio

The T.C. Williams boys' basketball team had already stared down a handful of gut-check moments this year: stretches of inconsistent play, a three-game losing streak, a day in late January when the Titans had to meet a district rival at night after losing earlier in the day at a talented private school. Saturday night came another such moment, this one at Robinson in the Northern Region semifinals against No. 11 Herndon, with a berth in the Virginia AAA state tournament at stake.

The Titans had seen their lead cut down to one early in the fourth quarter. The momentum was turning. Once again, however, the Titans (23-5) dug down and found a way to win. "It's kind of tough them coming down, hitting some big shots, putting some pressure on us a little bit," senior Tyler Driver said. "But we just stayed together and got the job done."

The two teams went into the half tied at 23, but Herndon rode the three-point shooting of senior Jon Beltran to open up a five-point lead. T.C. Williams called timeout, and Coach Julian King told the team to keep its composure. Behind Pullen and junior Daquan Kerman, the Titans got back into their groove and went into the fourth quarter with a 43-39 lead.

Herndon senior star Austin Hamilton did his best to keep the Hornets (23-3) in the game in the final quarter, scoring 12 of his game-high 32 points in the frame, but the Titans had just enough to stay in front, and Hamilton's last-gasp three pointer fell short.


T.C. Williams Bullies Way to Regional Championship

Titans' size proves too much for Hornets to handle

By Michael Beller


Two quick 3-pointers by Herndon’s Jonathan Beltran to start the second half gave the Hornets a five-point lead over T.C. Williams in the Northern Region semifinals Saturday.

Not wanting the high-powered Herndon offense to get rolling. T.C. Williams coach Julian King called a timeout. “I told them, ‘Just keep playing. We make an aggressive mistake, fine, just get back on defense,’” King said. “I was just trying to get them to do the stuff that we normally do.”

What the Titans normally do is use their athleticism and length to crash the boards and get easy scores. They did just that in outscoring Herndon 19-10 the rest of the quarter and, despite a late rally by the Hornets, the Titans were able to hold them off for a 64-61 win and a berth in the Northern Region championship game as well as the AAA state tournament.

“It was kind of tough, [Herndon] coming down and hitting some big shots,” said T.C. Williams point guard Tyler Driver. “We just stayed together and got the job done.”

T.C. Williams was in control the entire fourth quarter, pushing the lead to 58-51 with just 1:21 left in the game. Herndon standout Austin Hamilton then made a twisting layup to cut the lead to five. A few trips later, trailing 61-55, Hamilton got an offensive rebound and put-back of his own, drawing a foul in the process. He made the free throw for the last of his game-high 32 points to bring the Hornets within three with 31.9 seconds left in the game.

Herndon immediately fouled Driver on the inbounds, and he made 1-of-2 free throws. On the ensuing possession, Beltran gave his man a nice head-fake to get him up in the air and jumped into him on a 3-point attempt to send him to the line with a chance to cut the lead to one. He made only the first free throw, giving T.C. some breathing room.

Again, the Titans made just one free throw when they were fouled, and Beltran made a driving layup to make the game 63-61 with 5.7 seconds left. After another 1-for-2 trip to the free-throw line for the Titans, Hamilton got a decent look at a 3-pointer for the tie, but it came up short and the Titans escaped with the victory.

Driver led the Titans with 15 points, while Rick Mathews had 14 and Pullen added 12. T.C. Williams plays Annandale in the Northern Region championship on Monday. It will be the fourth time the teams have met this season, with the Titans taking two of the first three, including the Patriot District championship game


T.C. Williams vs. Annandale: Titans win fourth Northern Region title in five seasons

By Paul Tenorio

When the T.C. Williams boys' basketball players climbed the ladder to cut down the nets following their 59-54 win over Annandale in the Virginia AAA Northern Region final on Monday night, it was the fulfillment of a goal that dated back far beyond the start of this season.

Last year, the Titans saw their season end with forfeits and a first-round playoff exit, and players said their goal entering this season was to restore T.C. Williams back to the top of the region.

Facing its Patriot District rival Annandale for the fourth time this season, the Titans relied on the basics that have defined them throughout the season, defense and rebounding, and fought off a late Atoms rally at Robinson to win their fourth region title in five seasons.

The Titans (24-5) had opened up a nine-point lead in the third quarter, but Annandale closed it to one with 2 minutes 43 seconds remaining in the game. After hitting two free throws, the Titans got two timely steals from Tyrell Sitton and Tyler Driver that spurred a 7-1 run and provided enough breathing room for the win.

T.C. Williams will face Eastern Region runner-up Phoebus at 8:45 p.m. Friday at Robinson in a AAA quarterfinal. Annandale will play defending AAA champion I.C. Norcom at 1:45 p.m. Saturday at William & Mary.

On Monday, both teams struggled to find their shot early on. The Titans shot just 23 percent in the first half and trailed Annandale, 21-17, going into the break.

T.C. came out in the third quarter and immediately found better looks, slowing down the game and running a more deliberate half-court offense that pounded the ball inside more to 6-foot-5 senior Jamal Pullen and 6-6 senior Rick Mathews. The result was a 15-2 run that spanned 41/2 minutes and helped T.C. (20-8) open up a 37-28 advantage with 1:45 remaining in the third quarter.

The Atoms picked away at the lead behind Melvin Robinson (11 points, 12 rebounds) and D'Angelo Boyce, who got into the lane for two big buckets going into the fourth. But Pullen (17 points, eight rebounds) and Driver, who had seven points in the fourth quarter and pulled down a key offensive rebound off his own free throw miss, provided enough for T.C. to fight off a late charge from Annandale.


Titans Stand Tall To Claim Regional Championship


By Brian Belefski

Just 10 days removed from a banner victory over Annandale in the Patriot District championship, T.C. Williams had to prove itself once again going up against the Atoms. This time, much more was at stake.

With the Northern Region championship on the line and leading by one with two minutes remaining, T.C. Williams center Rick Mathews was the last Titans player in the way of Annandale’s Karl Ziegler on a fast break. Mathews stood his ground and drew a charge against the Patriot District Player of the Year. That play symbolized the defensive-minded Titans, who held strong in the closing minutes to claim the Northern Region championship 59-54 on Monday night at Robinson Secondary School.

After a sluggish first half, T.C. Williams coach Julian King made a point to his team about the defensive structure he prides himself on, and the way Mathews didn’t back down.

After Mathews’ drawn charge, T.C.Williams' Jamal Pullen made a basket and guard Tyrell Sitton (eight points) grabbed a steal off a deflection for a fast-break layup and a 51-46 lead. Moments later, guard Tyler Driver stole the ball and made a pair of free throws to vault the Titans to what looked to be an insurmountable 53-46 lead with 1:15 remaining in the game.

The Atoms, who had played T.C. Williams tough all game and all season, didn’t give up hope in this fourth meeting. Ziegler had a game-high 21 points and power forward Melvin Robinson scored 11 difficult points down low. After a Ziegler steal and layup, the Atoms were all of a sudden in a one-possession game, trailing 54-51 with 40.2 seconds left. That’s when the fouling frenzy began.

With 33.3 seconds remaining, Annandale fouled Driver (nine points). Driver, who calmly made two free throws a minute earlier, missed both shots. Down by just a possession, the missed foul shots gave the Atoms new life. However, the Atoms did a poor job of boxing out the shooter after the miss. Driver did what any smart shooter would do and followed his own shot. After a scramble for the ball on the baseline, Driver got a rebound off his own miss and was fouled again. This time, he converted both free throws to give the Titans a 56-51 lead.

With 15.3 seconds remaining, Ziegler was fouled while shooting a 3-pointer. The forward made all three foul shots to give the Atoms a chance trailing 57-54. Then the Titans’ Daquan Kerman and Pullen each went 1-of-2 from the free-throw line to close the door on the Atoms.

Annandale led 21-17 at halftime following a sloppy first half. The Titans darted out to a lead midway in the third quarter when Mathews converted a three-point play to give the Titans a 29-26 advantage they wouldn’t relinquish. The third quarter played to the Titans’ favor as T.C. Williams took a 39-34 lead entering the final quarter.

By virtue of advancing to the regional championship, both T.C. Williams and Annandale qualify for the state tournament. T.C. Williams (24-5) will play Eastern Region runner-up Phoebus on Friday at 8:45 p.m. at Robinson. Annandale (20-8) will play Eastern Region champion Norcom in Williamsburg on Saturday at 1:45 p.m. The Titans previously played Phoebus at the VirginiaPreps.com Classic on Jan. 22 and lost 48-41.