Taft Gantt ’20
When it became clear that Stevan Bajski ’21 and Saad Salih ’22 would be out for the season, Coach Dawson knew it wasn’t going to be an easy year. The injury-plagued Tigers struggled through Prep League play, failing to win a conference game and finishing the season 4-18.
“The loss of both Stevan and Saad was felt from the very instant they were injured,” Head Coach Craig Dawson said. “They are two of our hardest workers, both have high basketball IQs and provide size that we sorely missed. I really look forward to getting both of those guys back on the court next year.”
The Tigers started the season with non-conference wins over Madison County and Wakefield but fell at the hands of Benedictine, John Paul the Great, Episcopal, and Eastern Mennonite. Woodberry then traveled to Greensboro, North Carolina to play in the Bobcat Classic, where the team played its best basketball of the year.
The Tigers lost in the first round to the eventual champion Upper St. Clair, but advanced to the consolation final with a 65-63 overtime victory over Summit Academy from Brooklyn, New York. However, this time Woodberry was on the losing end of an overtime battle, falling 60-58 to Winston-Salem Christian.
“I thought we fought hard in the Bobcat Classic throughout the tournament, especially in the last two games which really came down to the wire,” said sixth form captain William Barber ’20. “The game against Summit Academy was one of the most complete games that we played all year. When it came to the fourth quarter I knew it was going to be close because both teams had gone on huge runs throughout the game. Thankfully, we came out on top and got the win.”
Upon returning from Christmas break, Woodberry hosted St. Chris to begin Prep League play. The Saints bested the Tigers 67-44, and it didn’t get easier from there. Woodberry began a long road campaign, suffering double-digit losses to St. Anne’s-Belfield, Benedictine, Trinity Episcopal, Fork Union, and Collegiate.
The Tigers finally returned home on January 28 for a rematch against top-ranked St. Anne’s-Belfield. They played some of their best basketball of the season, but lost a competitive game 60-49. Coach Dawson’s boys kept their heads held high and continued fighting. Later that week, Woodberry traveled to St. Chris, looking to shock a confident Saints squad. Tied at 31 through three quarters, St. Chris won 47-44 in the final minute.
The Tigers’ first and only win of the new year came soon after against Manassas Park 61-47. Noah Adams ‘21 led the Tigers in scoring with 13 points. Jojo Beal ‘21, Spencer Legg ‘21, and Sam Swinson ‘22 each had 11 points.
Unfortunately, the Tigers’ struggle in the Prep League continued, as they fell to Trinity Episcopal, Collegiate, and Fork Union in the Dick Gym to end the regular season. Woodberry then had to travel back to Richmond to take on St. Chris in the Prep League Tournament. The Tigers lost 66-42.
Coach Dawson already has his eyes set on next season with many varsity players returning and the addition of talented JV stars.
“Truthfully, I’m looking forward to guys just getting better,” Coach Dawson said. “I’m in the process of putting together a skill development program for the guys, and I’m interested to see how much we can improve between now and next fall. Obviously, they’ll need to buy in and be willing to work. I’m ready to roll and really looking forward to the process.”