Hawkins leading Eagles to new heights

Darren Hawkins

-High School: Freedom
-Club team: VA Elite
-Sport: Basketball
-Position: Guard
-Height: 6-foot-2
-Accolades: 2012 All-Cedar Run second team

For the first time in his four-year varsity basketball career, Freedom High School senior guard
Darren Hawkins is experiencing a winning season. The Eagles’ previous best season during Hawkins’ tenure was a 7-16 record in 2010-2011. But this year, the Eagles have doubled their number of wins from last year, boasting a 10-8 record with four games remaining in the regular season, plus district playoffs.

“It’s the best season I’ve experienced here at Freedom,” Hawkins said. Hawkins, who is averaging more than 15 points a game and has posted eight games with 20 or more points, is a large part of his teams’ success.“I’ve asked a lot of him all four years and I’ve put a lot of pressure on him,” Freedom coach Derek Gaunt admitted. “I put a lot of pressure on him as a freshman and he used it to continually get better.”

“It’s rare that you get a kid that has coachability and talent and when you got them both like I have in Darren, you’ve got a winner,” he added. While Hawkins is a prolific scorer, some of his greatest contributions on the court are his intangibles, say his coaches and teammates. “He’s a consummate leader,” Gaunt said. “He knows what it takes to put his teammates in a position to make them better but when it comes to crunch time, he knows he’s going to be the guy I look to to get us over that hump, whatever that hump may be, whether it’s a lackluster practice or a game-winning shot.”

Teammate Kyle Wrighte, who runs the point for the Eagles, agrees and notes that Hawkins is who he looks to in a tight situation. “When we need him, we go to him and it seems to work out most of the time,” Wrighte said. “Whenever I get the ball and my head goes up, Darren’s always in the back of my mind.”.

Hawkins acknowledges his position as team captain and leader and strives to make his teammates better. Both Hawkins and his coach have set a goal for the emerging Eagles, which is to advance to the regional playoffs for the first time. Though Freedom currently sits third in the six-team Cedar Run District, just one game behind Battlefield and three games behind the first place Stonewall Jackson, Hawkins feels neither a district tournament title nor a regional bid are out of reach.

“I don’t think we’ve reached our full potential,” Hawkins said. “The sky is the limit"However far the Eagles manage to soar, Gaunt and his team know one thing: Hawkins will be leading the flock.



Freedom (South Riding) 67, Manassas Park 40

SOUTH RIDING, Va.- The Freedom Eagles opened the 2012-13 campaign with an impressive 67-40 win over the visiting Manassas Park Cougars. Freedom got off to a quick, 12-0, start led by Step Your Game Up’s Darren Hawkins and Andrew Ajilore. The two would later connect on a well executed pick and roll that ended with a thunderous Ajilore dunk. The Cougars (0-1) clawed their way back into it with a barrage of three-point shots and eventually tied the game up at 16 before a Freedom (1-0) basket at the first quarter buzzer gave the Eagles a 18-16 lead.

Freedom regained control in the 2nd as Hawkins and fellow senior Cam Nizialek began attacking the Manassas Park defense. The Eagles were able to get some breathing room as the Cougars took poor shots, made costly turnovers and were unable to keep up with Freedom’s tempo. Freedom led 35-25 at the break.

Freedom opened the 2nd half in the same manner that they ended the first and after a steal and Hawkins’ dunk, the rout was on. The Eagles were able to get everyone involved and cruised to a 27 point win.

Hawkins led all scorers with 19 and Nizialek added 15, several of which came on textbook old school post moves. Freedom travels to play Stone Bridge on Friday.



Freedom, Potomac Falls split basketball doubleheader 

by Carl Lukat

A pair of defending state basketball champions—Freedom girls and Potomac Falls boys—rolled to double-digit victories in a varsity doubleheader Jan. 21 at Potomac Falls High School in Sterling. In the boys’ game, Potomac Falls raced out to a 20-5 lead after one quarter and never looked back. The Panthers (10-0, 15-1) remained perfect in Dulles District play, maintaining a one-game district lead in the loss column over Broad Run (7-1, 13-1).
Freedom (3-7, 5-11) also received balance scoring in the loss. A total of nine Eagles scored in the game with sophomore Darren Hawkins leading the way with nine points.

A District Battle on Valentine’s Day

Posted by: stevencole84

Monday Night Briar Woods hosted a Dulles District quarterfinal game. The game featured the Briar Woods Falcons hosting the visiting Freedom Eagles. Intensity was in the air for this Valentine’s Day match up.

After Freedom had jumped out to an 8-3 lead Briar Woods knew they had to make some adjustments. Even distribution of the ball put Briar Woods in a position to shoot for the lead. Freedom tried to maintain a steady lead throughout the first half but Junior guard Myles Tate and the Briar Woods Offense was consistent. Every basket Freedom made Briar Woods had an answer for.

Going into the half Briar Woods made a strong push for the lead to let Freedom know they weren’t going down without a fight. With a competitive game under way Briar Woods took their momentum from the end of the first half and applied it to the beginning of the second half.

Late in the Third quarter Briar Woods had the lead 32-24. However, Freedom’s Sophomore forward Darren Hawkins had been cruising under the radar with his impressively steady game plan, and he was only picking up momentum. With time running out for Freedom Darren Hawkins put the team on his back. He provided Freedom with a scoring spark and continually crashed the boards to force second chance points.

Unfortunately, Freedoms efforts never amounted to a lead. Myles Tate was too much for Freedom’s defense. He maintained the lead and the momentum in the final stretch of the game. His strikingly quick drives finished the Freedom Eagles off.

In the end, the team effort for Briar Woods was more effective than Freedom. The Briar Wood’s Falcon’s defeated the Freedom Eagle’s 48-39.  Darren Hawkins was the majority points scorer with 20 points. In fact, it took five of Freedom’s other players just to score 19 points.