VIC Conference Tournament Preview/VISAA Coaches’ Poll 2/19 Update

Benjamin J Veshi

On the eve of the VIC Division 1 Conference Tournament, the Tigers are preparing to embrace the role of the underdog as they finished up the regular season as the #4 seed. Hargrave heads to St. George, Virginia for a third meeting this season with the Barons of Blue Ridge School, who claimed the #1 seed in conference during the regular season.

The Tigers dropped both meetings against the Barons earlier this season. On January 10th, at Blue Ridge, the Barons defense stifled the Tigers as they shot a dismal 10-54 from the floor and 2-14 from the three point line in an overwhelming 96-42 loss. Hargrave was coming off an emotional, gutsy win at Virginia Episcopal School ( just two days earlier.

When Blue Ridge came to Chatham just a few weeks later, the Tigers were able to feed off the Corps of Cadets and were able to ride that home court advantage to a nip and tuck game for the first 28 minutes of action. With the score 62-56 with about four minutes to go in regulation, Blue Ridge hit a pair of back to back threes from the same spot on the floor on back to back possessions that ultimately ended the game as the Tigers fell 79-66.

After moving up to VIC Division 1 last season, the Tigers have adopted the role of being the underdog wholeheartedly. In last year’s conference tournament, the Tigers, also as the #4 seed, went up to Miller and pushed the game to the wire, eventually falling 82-78 to a Miller squad that won the VISAA Division 2 State Championship. This year’s team is embracing that role as well. According to Senior captain, Wade Thomas (Danville, VA), “Coach Veshi holds us to a high standard and demands the most out of us. He’s been preaching all year that we need to roll our sleeves up and grind out games with our defensive intensity. Between defense, rebounding, and being the hardest playing team on the floor, our identity has put us in position to make a run at both the VIC Tournament Championship and the VISAA State Championship. We know it’s an uphill battle but we’ve got a locker room full of guys that want to make a push here at the end of the season.” Coach Veshi, preparing for his third tournament run, also remarked, “These guys have been working their tails off this year. I think that teams eventually take on the characteristics of their coach. I was always the underdog, smallest guy on the floor, youngest coach in the league my first year here at Hargrave-but none of that stopped me from giving 100% every time I stepped between the lines. That’s a habit these guys have learned throughout the year and I think we’ve really got an interesting opportunity to control our own destiny down the stretch. Nothing better than this time of the year, all the work you’ve put in-the blood, the sweat, the tears-it all comes to a head in these ‘survive and advance’ tournament games.”

Tip-off between Hargrave and Blue Ridge is scheduled for 6:30 PM on Thursday February 21st from St. George, Virginia. A livestream link will be included on the Hargrave Athletics Twitter page.

In this week’s latest VISAA Coaches’ Poll, the Tigers remained as the #7 ranked team in the state, despite dropping games to #3 Miller and #2 Virginia Episcopal to finish out the regular season. The updated rankings are below and there will be one more poll to determine the final standings for the VISAA Division 2 State Tournament which begins on Tuesday February 26th and finishes up on Saturday March 2nd from Virginia State University in Petersburg, Virginia.

VISAA Division 2 Coaches’ Poll (2/19)
#1-Blue Ridge School (108)
#2-Virginia Episcopal School (97)
#3-Miller School of Albemarle (91)
#4-Middleburg Academy (82)
#5-Steward School (63)
#6-Highland School (62)
#7-Hargrave Military Academy (49)
#8-Virginia Academy (47)
#9-Norfolk Christian School (32)
#10-Norfolk Collegiate School (28)
#11-Nansemond-Suffolk Academy (26)
#12-Christchurch School (10)
RV-North Cross School
RV-Seton School 

Hargrave Military Academy logo.