High School

LeBron James upset after trash was thrown at his son during Paul VI-Sierra Canyon

LeBron James upset after trash was thrown at his son during Paul VI-Sierra Canyon

A high school basketball clash between two national powerhouses on Monday lived up to the hype, but the main storyline from the game had nothing to do with what happened on the court.

During Paul VI (Va.)'s 70-62 victory over Sierra Canyon (Calif.), one fan was forced to leave the gym after throwing a piece of trash at a Sierra Canyon player. That player would be freshman LeBron James, Jr. 

James, who goes by "Bronny," has been in the spotlight for years due to the high profile of his father, who remains one of the best players in basketball. The elder James took to Instagram to express his displeasure with the event that went on during the Hoophall Classic at the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass.

"Know I got your back and front throughout it all! I’d die for you and your siblings," James wrote. "Never waver no matter what disrespect, hate, envy, jealousy, etc comes your way! Only push forward and continue to be the great kid/young man/person you are! Love you kid!!"

Bronny, a reserve on a loaded Sierra Canyon team, finished with zero points in just 13 minutes on Monday. 

Paul VI, a Northern Virginia program with multiple Division 1-bound recruits, is ranked No. 11 in the country. While this incident will grab the headlines, the program's victory over Sierra Canyon is an impressive win.

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Gonzaga's Caleb Williams has all the talent, but it's his poise that sets him apart

Gonzaga's Caleb Williams has all the talent, but it's his poise that sets him apart

Caleb Williams is a consensus 5-star student athlete and according to multiple sources, the top ranked quarterback in the class of 2021. As such, coaches of blue blood programs bide for his attention, collegiate fan bases stalk his social media, and recruiting services follow his every move in hopes of being the first to accurately update his 'crystal ball.'

Physically, Williams checks all the boxes sought after in a top-tier QB: arm strength, velocity, accuracy, mobility, and he can make every throw in the route tree. On the field, Williams embodies everything coaches look for in a football player -- but it’s who he is off the field that makes him a generational student athlete.

“Mentally, he sees it; he sees the game,” said Williams’ offensive coordinator, Danny Schaechter. “Kind of like Mozart could look at a piano and he could see music. Einstein looked at a blackboard with numbers and he could see the universe. Caleb can look at a defense and he can see patterns in the open grass.

“He can see what another person is doing and anticipate what’s going to happen. You’ve got guys who are great athletes but not great football players because they can’t see it the way someone like Caleb can.”

Williams was highly-touted before he ever stepped foot on a high school field. His accomplishments in youth football led to him being recruited by the top programs in the region. Once he chose Gonzaga, Schaechter said it didn’t take long for Williams' way of being to outshine his arm-talent.

“This is how Caleb really took over as our starting quarterback going into his freshmen year,” Schaecter remembered. “We were at Penn State for a 7-on-7 tournament and he was in a high-pressure situation, but when you looked at him, it was as if he was somewhere on the beach.

“Everyone else was frantic, but he was poised, calm and relaxed. Making big plays against teams filled with great players, and he’s out there leading us to wins.”

Schaechter says Williams led by example in those early days, but by way of personal growth and work ethic, he has become one of Gonzaga’s vocal leaders in present day. His knowledge of the playbook and ability to communicate with his peers allows him to serve as an on-field extension of his coaching staff.

“Every single year he gets better and better about understanding offenses and defenses and how to properly prepare on the practice field. He’ll coach the receivers and tell them, ‘this is what I need you to do when the defender is doing this,'” Schaechter said. “He’s taking exactly what we’re coaching and giving it to his teammates, just in his own way. That’s a testament to the time he puts in and his commitment to this program.”

Last season, Williams accounted for 40 touchdowns and amassed nearly 3,000 yards from scrimmage en route to being named the NBC Sports Washington Offensive Player of the Year. In his three seasons as Gonzaga’s starting quarterback, he has led the Eagles to two WCAC championship games, winning it all as a sophomore. According to his OC, it’s Williams’ intrinsic drive that fuels his desire to succeed at the highest level.

“The guy is ultra competitive. He loves to be the best," Schaechter said. "He has a chip on his shoulder at all times. He’s always trying to show how great he can be, and that stems from his belief in himself, his confidence in his ability and the work he puts into it all.”

With all the accolades and accomplishments, it would be understandable for a student athlete in Williams’ position to adopt a “me-first” attitude. The feeling at Gonzaga, though, is Williams values being a great teammate above all else.

“The whole recruiting game has never gotten to his head to the point that he’s arrogant or that he thinks he’s better than other people,” Schaechter said. “He’s a great teammate and a great guy. He knows he’s lucky to have the talent that he has and he just wants to use his platform to help others.”

Roosevelt overcomes ghost of past, defeats Wilson to claim DCIAA title

Roosevelt overcomes ghost of past, defeats Wilson to claim DCIAA title

When the final buzzer sounded, Roosevelt's coach Rob Nickens felt the emotion of the moment begin to swell inside his body. Student athletes celebrated in myriad ways; some jumping for joy, others collapsing to the floor while the brazen of the bunch found cell phone cameras to confidently proclaim their conquest to.

There was jubilation on the floor of the Entertainment and Sports Arena as the proverbial David had just slain Goliath. Parents and family members began making their way to the court to join the celebration, but alone on the sidelines stood Nickens, now with tears streaming uncontrollably down his face, appearing to not want to get too close in fear of finding out it wasn’t real.

“This is a dream come true. I’ve prayed about it, continued to work hard and believed in the vision,” Nickens said. “This has been a five-year chase. Everybody gave up on us, but we didn’t give up on each other.”

It was very real. The Roughriders just won their first DCIAA championship since 2014, and they’d done so by defeating arch-nemesis Wilson 66-63. The Tigers were the three-time defending city champion. They’d defeated Roosevelt in each of those championship games.

“To do it on this stage after being down double-digits is incredible,” Nickens said. “ The kids never gave up -- that’s what I’m so happy about. We’ve been city champions before, but nobody really gave us credit for that.”

Despite architecting a one-loss season and entering the tournament as the 1-seed, Roosevelt knew in order to earn ultimate validation, they’d need to go through Wilson, a program which beat them soundly on the EAS floor 92-48 in the previous year's championship game.

Coach Angelo Hernadez’s team jumped out to an early first quarter lead. Wilson's ball pressure forced turnovers, allowing the Tigers to run in the open court and score 13 first-half points in transition. Behind strong starts by Darren Buchanan and Nasir Best, Wilson led 33-28 at the half.

The Tigers extended their lead in the third. Jay Young Jr.’s four-point play pushed the lead to nine. As the quarter came to a close, it appeared as though Roose would meet the same fate it had in the previous three championship matchups between the teams. Nickens implored his young men to look inside themselves and remember what got them to this point.

“We just had to put pressure on the ball and play the way we played all year,” Nickens said. “ It’s no need to get to this stage and change. We’d been doing the same things the last 29 games and we were 28-1.”

Nickens knew in order to knock off the prolific Tigers, he’d need a total team effort, so with the game in the balance and leading scorer Jasir Tremble being contained, he turned to reserve guard James Pitts to drive the Riders home. Pitts responded by making countless big plays on both ends of the court, scoring 19 points and calmly sinking 11-of-12 from the free-throw line.

According to Pitts, responding to the pressure of the moment came second-nature to him.

“We shoot 150 free throws a day,” Pitts said, “so the crowd noise didn’t bother me. I just felt like I was there by myself at the free throw line.”

Pitts’ exploits helped him earn game MVP. Nickens knew his junior guard was capable of coming up big in big moments.

“He’s played well all year for us. Just because you don’t start at Roose doesn’t mean you can’t be productive,” Nickens said. “His minutes were big -- he scored, what, 14 points in the 4th quarter? He’s a warrior.”

Roosevelt accomplished one of its goals by winning the DCIAA city championship. Nickens will now set the team's aim on the DCSAA states.

“I’ve won a state championship before,” Nickens said. “You have to play every game like it’s your last, but we’ll be ready. Trust Me!”