Brookville the team to beat in boys and girls hoops
Lynchburg News & Advance
Friday, December 7, 2007

The last time an area high school has had both its boys and girls basketball teams appear as dominant as Brookville's do this winter was in 2004, when Altavista's boys and girls went on to claim their first Group A state championships in school history on the same day at VCU.

Brookville's girls enter this season as three-time defending Seminole District champions, going undefeated in district play the past two years after losing just one game, to Heritage, in 2004. It lost to Hidden Valley in the Region III final before falling to Virginia in the Group AA quarterfinals.

The Bees' boys, meanwhile, are coming off their first perfect Seminole District season, knocking off the Pioneers three times to capture both the regular-season and tournament crowns before falling to the Titans in a classic Region III semifinal clash.

"We've got a great nucleus coming back and they want to get farther than they did last year," Brookville coach Chris Young said.

Both teams are favorites to repeat as district champs based on their returning starters, especially in the frontcourt, where the boys boast the 6-foot-6 junior duo of Logan Thomas and Corby Weiss and the girls showcase seniors Brittany Campbell and Joyous Tharrington.

They also feature gifted point guards to distribute the ball into the post. For the boys, George Williams shifted from the shooting guard spot to replace Matt Dunton, who's now a freshman starter at Cedarville (Ohio) University. Dunton's younger sister Emilee returns to run the point for the girls after an auspicious freshman season.

"I have two forwards playing that have signed Division I scholarships," Bees girls coach Warner Dyke said of Campbell and Tharrington, who signed last month to play at Liberty and Richmond, respectively, next year. "Then I have a point guard that's a sophomore who is one of the best point guards in the area and who, by the time she's a senior, will probably have a Division I scholarship.

"It's a great feeling to have that experience and level of talent," he added. "They hope to get a little farther this year than they got last year. Our goal is to be playing at VCU in March."

Williams is the natural pick to succeed Dunton at the point with his tremendous playmaking ability and passing skills, especially on transition and off penetration.

"I've played point guard before," said Williams, who relocated here from Houston two years ago. "It's not my first time, so it's not much of a transition for me. It might take away from me shooting the ball, but I'm looking forward to setting up my teammates."

Williams has gained valuable insight into playing the position from talking to his older brother Harry Williams, who played shooting guard and some point guard at Liberty University before graduating in 2004, as well as Dunton and eighth-year coach Young.

"It takes a lot of leadership and being very vocal on the court and (Young) believes I can do it," George Williams said. "I'm looking forward to leading our team as far as it can go this year. Our goal is to reach the state championship game and I believe we can do it."

Weiss, who also plays wide receiver for the football team, could be out until Christmas after suffering bruised ribs on a violent hit as he missed a pass from Thomas in the Bees' state semifinal football loss at Richlands last Saturday. He looks forward to getting back in the motion offense run by Young and he fast-paced game the Bees prefer to play.

"The motion gives us the ability to move around freely and see what options are open," he said. "The fast break's what I like best."

Thomas may shift between playing in the paint and on the perimeter this season.

"If a smaller guy's guarding him, he'll play at the post and if a bigger guy's on him, he'll play out on the wing, wherever he has the biggest advantage," Weiss said.

Together, the returning players pose a formidable frontcourt, as they showed in a 77-74 season-ending loss to the Titans.

"It's motivated us to work harder this year to go farther than we got last year," Weiss said. "If we take the competitive level we had from football to basketball, we should be fine."

The Bees' girls are off to a 3-0 start after beating Spotswood in their season-opener on Saturday, defending state champion Hidden Valley on Monday and Altavista on Wednesday.

"Spotswood's supposed to be one of the best teams in our region this year," Dunton said, after the realignment that moved Hidden Valley and the rest of the River Ridge District to Region IV.

The win over the Titans was particularly satisfying since Campbell, Dunton and Tharrington play with many of them on the Roanoke Stars travel team.

"We play with all of them and we're all good friends, too, so to beat them is sweet," Campbell said.

"It gives us confidence, but we have to stay humble because any one of the teams in our district could beat us," Tharrington said. "The main thing is that we're humble and hungry this year. We have to come out ready to play."

As well as playing the sport year-round, the girls have emphasized off-season conditioning.

"We get up and work out at 5:30 in the morning at the (Jamerson) YMCA before school," Dunton said. "We're working our butts off because we want it. It doesn't matter who we're going to play."

"People think because we have a weak district, we won't be as good," Tharrington added. "We're out to prove them wrong."