Boys basketball hopes for success

The varsity basketball team remains strong with a record of 9 wins and 6 losses.

The Atoms beat Hayfield 65-62 in an overtime thriller on Jan. 14 as guard Leoule Yared scored a vital mid-range shot to give Annandale a 3 point lead with under a minute left in the game.

“It wasn’t too big of a shot,” sophomore Leoule Yared said. “But it made it a two possesion game.
This two possesion score sealed the game for the Atoms.

“In the Hayfield game, we started off strong and went into halftime up 20,” forward and sophomore Amanuel Tucker said. “But the second half was rough and we kind of fell apart and we managed to hold it to overtime.”

Annandale also won the Joe Cascio Holiday Tournament during winter break, despite missing two important players.
The competition consists of teams around the region and games are single elimination. The Atoms narrowly beat Falls Church and Forest Park in the semi-final and championship games, with scores of 61-57 and 53-49, respectively.

“I feel like we played well as a team [even though] we were missing two of our key players,” junior and shooting guard Mahmoud Bangura said. “We were playing good defense, we were playing with effort, and everybody was locked.”
The players were satisfied with the high competition they faced, as it helped them improve and gave them a challenge.

“I think it was a good tournament,” freshman and point guard John Awoke said. “They were decent competition and it was a pretty good crowd. We won the tournament so I think we played well. We were missing two players but we still won.”

The Atoms believe their success in the tournament came as a result of their improvement throughout the season.
“When we start playing better teams, we have to play a lot better,” Coach Deidrich Gilreath said earlier in the season.

According to the players, the team has lived up to these expectations.

Despite many recent successes, the team has racked up multiple losing streaks since this season and thinks it needs to be more consistent in order to improve.

Many of the games have been extremely unpredictable and the opposing teams have been competitive. Some of the losses include falling to Robinson 54-53 and Woodbridge 71-69.

“I think we lost the last few games because we lost focus and didn’t play hard for four quarters every game,” Gilreath said.

“We have been losing recently because we aren’t playing together,” sophomore and shooting guard Maxwell Lanham said. “Not everyone is putting their heart into it.”

To the players, the mindset has not been “just another game” because these losses have been extremely aggravating and they think they have lots of skill on the team.

“I feel like we’ve been losing because we haven’t been playing hard and it’s frustrating because we are so much more talented than the teams we lost to, and we’ve beat teams that they have lost to,” Awoke said. “I feel like we don’t practice seriously.”

Although these game ended in losses, the scores were not far apart, and much could have been done to prevent these narrow losses.

“I think we need to work on staying persistent for the full 32 minutes of the game,” Tucker said.

The effort from the players needs to be full for the entire game in order for the team to be more successful. “We need to improve on taking care of the ball and playing hard all four quarters,” Gilreath adds.

For the remainder of the season, the teams goal is to win districts. Also, they hope to make a deep run in the playoffs.

The ambitious goals of the players are very realistic if the team increases its effort and works hard for the rest of the regular season.

The team is extremely talented and has championship caliber players.