1. Let’s Talk About That Performance From Tyler Nickel.
Man, what can you say about Tyler Nickel’s performance a week ago?
The 6-foot-7 East Rockingham sophomore was the talk of the Shenandoah Valley after dropping 45 points and 11 rebounds in the Eagles’ 68-61 victory over Spotswood Friday.
It wasn’t just the stats that were impressive, however. It was how he was able to do it.
With his size and quick first step, Nickel gets to the rim with ease against most teams.
But against the Trailblazers, the sophomore showed off his range with eight 3s in the first half and proved he wasn’t just a scorer as he grabbed a team-high 11 rebounds.
It was just the type of performance East Rock needed in its biggest game yet and it’s one that should have the Eagles primed for another deep postseason run this year.
2. SHS Girls Still Finding Their Identity Early On.
While Spotswood entered the season with high expectations after winning the Virginia High School League Class 3 state title a year ago, the Trailblazers still need time.
The loss of Nakaila Gray is especially tough for Spotswood as the former forward often picked up the slack in the scoring column when some of the underclassmen struggled.
Add in the fact that one of the Trailblazers’ biggest leaders and defensive standouts in Mary-Ruth Shifflett is also gone and it’s clear this team has to build a new identity.
It’s been a chaotic start for Spotswood with two new starters and head coach Chris Dodson missing three games with a medical issue, but things should get better.
In fact, the Trailblazers remain the favorite to make a deep postseason run again this season. It’ll likely just take some time before we see that team come to fruition.
3. Harrisonburg Boys Will Compete For Valley Title
Back-to-back devastating losses to open the season was certainly challenging for Harrisonburg, but the Blue Streaks still showcased plenty of grit in the setbacks.
In fact, when watching the HHS boys, it’s clear it’s a team loaded with depth.
The Streaks have a city/county-high eight seniors this season and feature a variety of different players, including athletic guard playing a strong forwards down low.
Jaziel Mensah-Agyekum is quickly inserting himself into the conversations as one of the top point guards, but Harrisonburg has had different players step up each night thus far.
If the Streaks are able to improve defensively and continue get strong offensive production in a balanced approach, they should compete for the Valley District title.
4. BRD Girls Is A Three-Team Race This Season
It’s become pretty clear quickly that the Bull Run District girls basketball race is going to come down to three teams this season — Luray, Page County and Strasburg.
The Rams and Panthers had a gritty battle last year in the Region 2B title game.
This season, led by sophomore Emily Weakley, the Bulldogs want in the conversation.
So far, Luray has looked the part and so has Page County and Strasburg.
All three teams have a grittiness to them and rely on balanced scoring to be at their best, but as we enter district play, it’s clear they’re the three competing for the top spot.
5. Carmelo Pacheco Is An Emerging Star For Spotswood
The biggest takeaway from Spotswood last week wasn’t its loss to East Rockingham.
It was the emergence of sophomore guard Carmelo Pacheco as a top players.
Pacheco dropped 28 points in the Trailblazers’ season-opening win over Staunton and followed that up with another solid shooting performance against the Eagles.
The athletic guard handled the ball well and showed off a smoother outside jumper.
While he still has improvements to make in some aspects of his game — that’ll come as he continues to grow — it’s clear Pacheco is the next standout for the SHS program.
And that could lead to another Valley District title this season for the Trailblazers.
Tyler Nickel, East Rockingham forward
This was the easiest one I’ve ever picked after Tyler Nickel put on an absolute show with a double-double of 45 points and 11 rebounds in a 68-61 win over Spotswood.
For the season, Nickel leads the area with a ridiculous average of 32 points per game.
Leah Kiracofe, Turner Ashby forward
The Turner Ashby sophomore has turned into a double-double machine as of late.
Kiracofe had a trio of doubles in three wins for the Knights last week and is now averaging 14.8 points, 12.0 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game this season.
Carmelo Pacheco, Spotswood guard
As I stated above, Carmelo Pacheco is the next big standout for the Trailblazers.
Through two games, Pacheco is averaging 19.5 points and 2.1 assists per game.