Tigers Fall in Elite Eight; VISAA State Tournament Recap

Benjamin Veshi

For the second time in as many years, the Hargrave Military Academy Varsity Basketball team earned the 5th seed in the VISAA Division 2 State Tournament and ultimately fell in the Elite Eight. The Tigers ended the season with a 14-9 overall record.

VISAA Division 2 State Tournament First Round–Tuesday February 27th, 2018

#5 Hargrave Military Academy 73
#12 Nansemond-Suffolk Academy 63

The atmosphere was electric inside historic Walter Davis Gymnasium as some early, thunderous dunks from seniors, Benson Lin and Seneca Louis, got the crowd even more pumped up for the rest of the game. Tuesday’s VISAA Division 2 State Tournament First Round game was only the second playoff game that Hargrave has hosted in the modern era, so the Corps of Cadets were engaged the community support was out in full force. Both teams went back and forth throughout the first 24 minutes until the Tigers were able to pull away from the Saints of Nansemond-Suffolk Academy early in the fourth quarter. Freshman IJ Ezuma halted any chance of a Saints comeback during the fourth as he protected the paint for four outstanding blocked shots down the stretch, Ezuma finished with six blocks for the game. Clutch free throw shooting helped lead Hargrave to the 73-63 victory and the opportunity to advance to the VISAA Division 2 State Tournament Elite Eight for the second year in a row.

Notable performances included:
Benson Lin ’18–16 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds
Cam McNeil ’18–14 points, 8 rebounds, 2 steals
Maurice Wilcox ’18–13 points, 4 assists
Seneca Louis ’18–12 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals
Chance Keyes ’19–9 points, 1 assist, 1 rebound
IJ Ezuma ’21–4 points, 13 rebounds, 6 blocks

VISAA Division 2 State Tournament Elite Eight–Wednesday February 28th, 2018

#4 Walsingham Academy 80
#5 Hargrave Military Academy 75

Although it’s always difficult to compete in back to back games late in the season, Hargrave Military Academy felt they were prepared to face a tough road test at Walsingham Academy in the VISAA Division 2 State Tournament Elite Eight because they played such a rigorous schedule during the season that included many back to back games and long road trips. Unfortunately for the Tigers, after an 8-7 start forced an early Walsingham Academy timeout, the Trojans then went on a 17-3 run and opened up a 39-25 lead heading into halftime.

With their backs against the wall, the Tigers looked to their seniors to help get them back in the game. Benson Lin and Cam McNeil did just that, as they combined for 32 second half points and hit six three pointers between the two of them. With 5:30 remaining in the game, Hargrave had battled all the way back to tie the score at 61-61. After some back and forth play over the final few minutes, a couple of late turnovers ultimately cost the Tigers and Walsingham was able to make their free throws down the stretch, ending Hargrave’s season with an 80-75 loss.

Notable performances included:
Benson Lin ’18–20 points, 4 rebounds, 4 steals
Cam McNeil ’18–15 points, 5 assists
Seneca Louis ’18–12 points, 3 rebounds, 2 steals
Korbin Spencer ’19–11 points, 4 rebounds
Matt Brown, Jr. ’19–10 points, 4 steals
Maurice Wilcox ’18–4 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists

2017-2018 Hargrave Military Academy Varsity Basketball Team and Individual Accolades

2017 St. Anne’s-Belfield Tip-Off Classic Champions
2018 VISAA Division 2 State Tournament Elite Eight
Finished season ranked #26 in Virginia according to MaxPreps
Finished season ranked #1,162 in the country according to MaxPreps

#14 Benson Lin ’18–All-VIC First Team
#11 Seneca Louis ’18–All-VIC Second Team
#5 Cam McNeil ’18–VIC All-Tournament Team

The Tigers had another successful season in Coach Veshi’s second year at the helm and they have began to establish a name for themselves around the state of Virginia and look forward to competing in the VIC’s upper division for years to come. “I’m extremely proud of the work that all these guys put in during the course of the season,” says Veshi, “It’s never easy to leave your family and friends at home and come to a small town like Chatham, Virginia, but these young men have really embraced the entire experience of attending Hargrave Military Academy and they gave maximum effort each time we were on the court together. That’s really all you can ask for as a coach. The entire school community was behind these guys and they’ve represented the Academy to the best of their ability this season. I couldn’t be more thankful to have had the opportunity to work with this group.” 

Team Photo