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20 A LOOK AT LOCAL SWIMMING

22 WRESTLERS START TAKING THE MAT

scrımmageplay THE CENTRAL VIRGINIA SPORTS AUTHORITY

Getting going After a strange year, winter sports are starting to come to life. PAGE 04

VOL 12 . ISSUE 1 :: JAN. 2021


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x’s and o’s SPORTS 04 WINTER YEARBOOK Five basketball stars

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MORE TIME An In-Depth Look at 20 ONE Wrestling and Swim TIME A recap from one of the 24 GAME closest games of the year so far, Western vs. Fluvanna girls hoops

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TEAM SPOTLIGHT LOCAL ATHLETIC DIRECTORS In some incredibly challenging times, it’s impressive what local administrators have been able to put together in order for it to be possible for winter sports to be conducted safely and responsibly. We’re impressed in particular with the ADs who have managed the pandemic and kept moving forward. 495 Brookway Drive, Charlottesville, VA, 22901 434-296-9821 www.taylorautobody.com

Come see our team at Taylor’s for all your collision repair needs. Taylor’s has been family owned and operated since 1986. Always remember you have the right to choose where your vehicle is repaired.


JUSTIN TAYLOR ST. AN N E ’ S -B E L FIE LD

STO P S AND S PORTRAITS BY KRISTI ELLIS, WORDS BY BART ISLEY

JOSH MORSE 4 :: scrimmageplay

A LB E MA RLE


OLIVIA MCGHEE LOUI SA COUNTY

DERRICK JONES, JR. B LU E R ID G E

IN A YEAR WHERE EVERYTHING IS UP IN THE AIR, THESE FIVE BASKETBALL PLAYERS ARE READY TO MAKE THEIR MARK

STA RTS KYMORA JOHNSON ST. ANNE’S-BE LFIE LD

January 2021 ::

5


JOSH MORSE ALBE MA R L E

WHEN JOSH MORSE was in ninth grade, his coach Greg Maynard listed him as a promising newcomer — at guard. A few years later, the 6-foot-6 senior who committed to Roanoke College back in the fall simply kept growing and has evolved into one of the area’s finest forwards and the centerpiece for the Albemarle offense, a knockdown shooter from the wing who is equally adept at mixing it up inside and pulling down rebounds. In 16 games of action last year before a foot injury cut his season short, Morse averaged 18.9 points and 10.7 rebounds per game while blocking 3.1 shots per game on the defensive end. He shot an absolutely scorching 61 percent from the field and knocked down 81 percent of his free throws. His absence in the lineup left a huge hole for the Patriots, who rallied and made the state quarterfinals despite Morse and point guard Jackson Rose each going down with injuries. While Albemarle has adjustments to make, the bottom line is that much of this year’s squad scrapped and clawed their way into the state playoffs. With Morse back and at full strength? The Patriots can be flat out dangerous this year when they get into a rhythm. ✖

6 :: scrimmageplay

September 2012 :: August 2011 ::

6 6


OLIVIA MCGHEE LOUI SA COUNTY

IT’S EASY TO GET CAUGHT up in Olivia McGhee’s ability to score because it’s ridiculously impressive. But McGhee is far from a one-dimensional slasher or scorer. She’s a complete player, a long defensive force who can create for her teammates, who can rebound from the guard spot as well as anyone in the nation and who just does so many of the little cerebral things that make her team better. That’s not always the case with a player as highly regarded as McGhee is, a player that has stacked Division I offers from the ACC, the Pac 12, the Big 12 and the Big 10 among others. Whispers about McGhee started years ago around Louisa, and she’s delivered already on the promise a lot of folks recognized as she came up through the youth ranks. She averaged 19.4 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 2.3 steals as a freshman while picking up the Jefferson District’s player of the year award as well as second team all-state honors. McGhee is a tall combo guard, a unicorn. It’s unfortunate that COVID-19 has interrupted her burgeoning career and local fans won’t get to see her play in person this year. It’s clear already that McGhee has been putting in the work to take her game up a few notches. ✖ 7 :: scrimmageplay 7 :: scrimmageplay

January 2021 ::

7


KYMORA JOHNSON ST. A NNE ’S -B E LF I E LD

KYMORA JOHNSON GOT THROWN into the fire as an eighth grader at St. Anne’s-Belfield. A year ahead of when most players even try out for a varsity basketball team, Johnson was playing big-time minutes for a team in the mix for a VISAA Division I state championship. The thing is? Johnson belonged right from the first jump ball. Johnson’s physical gifts are numerous — she’s an excellent shooter, a tall guard who can rebound and defend most anyone and has elite lateral quickness — but it’s her composure and intelligence that make her stand out. She just doesn’t ever seem to get rattled, a natural leader capable of handling whatever adversity is thrown her way. Like last season as a freshman when Jovia Winkey and Vanessa Woodfolk were suddenly gone and she was the centerpiece for the Saints. She met the moment, averaging 16.7 points, 8.3 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 4.0 steals per game. Perhaps most importantly? She was on the ball all the time and still only turned it over 1.2 times per game. The Saints won an LIS title, Johnson was the LIS player of the year and a first team AllState pick. This year? The Saints are still trying to figure out when or if they’ll get a chance to play. But one thing is for sure. Johnson will be ready. ✖ 8 :: scrimmageplay


DERRICK JONES, JR. BLU E R I D G E

DERRICK JONES IS IN MANY ways an ideal modern basketball player. He’s all functional strength and bounce, with the versatility to play and defend any number of positions on the floor. That makes him an ideal piece of the puzzle for Blue Ridge. Jones has gotten a chance to expand his repertoire and make leaps and bounds of improvement defensively while also figuring out how to create offense without the ball in his hands all the time at Blue Ridge. With the way Blue Ridge uses its depth, nobody in St. George is likely to put up eye-popping numbers. Jones’ 7.1 points and 4.9 boards on last year’s state title team simply don’t tell the entire story of the impact he’s had and the improvement he’s made at Blue Ridge. In the Barons’ home opener this year, he took over for a significant part of the second half, turning defense into offense while knocking down shots and taking it to the rack with a monster dunk. That’s the kind of player Jones is capable of being — an athletic force who’s also intelligent about his role in the game’s bigger picture — always in the right place at the right time on both ends of the floor. Blue Ridge opponents this year ignore that fact at their own peril. ✖

January 2021 ::

9


JUSTIN TAYLOR ST. A NNE ’S -B E LF I E LD

JUSTIN TAYLOR HAS LOOKED ready from the beginning. He broke out as a freshman at St. Anne’s-Belfield as a sharpshooter, knocking down 47 percent of his 3-pointers as a ninth grader en route to a team high 13.3 points per game on a squad where he shared the ball with a number of productive scorers. As a sophomore, while getting increased attention from defenses due to being a known entity, he became a much more complete player, jumped to 15.4 points per game and nearly doubled his assists per game average while becoming a significantly better defender in an All-Prep and AllVISAA Division I year. With multiple Division I offers, including a recent one from UVa and others from iconic programs like Syracuse, Indiana and Butler, the 6-foot-6 Taylor is well on his way to a career at the next level as he currently sits as 247 Sports’ No. 3 player in Virginia and No. 60 nationally. But like Javin DeLaurier before him, he’s working hard to make sure STAB is in a better place as a program than when he joined it. Team success may be challenging to measure in a year like what 2020-2021 is shaping up to be, but Taylor and company are going to be prepared to take advantage of whatever opportunities come their way. ✖ 10 :: scrimmageplay

September 2012 ::

10


2021 WINTER YEARBOOK SUPERLATIVES Most Likely to Hit a gamewinner? Most Likely to make a critical pass? Zymir Faulkner, Charlottesville Michael Gray, Blue Ridge Olivia McGhee, Louisa Andrew Shifflett, Western Kymora Johnson, STAB

Kam Holman, Goochland Nic Motley, CHS Kobe Edmonds, Fluvanna Lakia Thompson, CHS Presleigh Braxton, Miller

Most likely to post a triple double? Most likely to throw down a dunk? Kymora Johnson, STAB Ella Weaver, William Monroe Alana Carter-Johnston, Fluvanna Maliq Brown, Blue Ridge Josh Morse, Albemarle

JOSH SIME

Derrick Jones, Jr., Blue Ridge Carter Lang, STAB Clarence Rupert, Miller Maliq Brown, Blue Ridge Josh Sime, Western

Most Likely to throw up a casual 30? most likely to get floor burns? Sylvie Jackson, Louisa County Sihle Mthethwa, Orange Jackson Taylor, Madison County Jacob Rice, Miller Justin Taylor, STAB

Mattie Shearer, Western Iyanna Carey, William Monroe Isaac Sumpter, Western Daija Bennett, STAB Noah Adams, Woodberry

Most likely to grab a critical board? Most likely to double up at state swim? Ethan DeLaurier, Miller Alexis Chapman, Louisa County Chris Woods, Albemarle Xavier Copeland, Fluvanna Logan Barbour, William Monroe

SIHLE MTHETHWA

Athena Vanyo, Monticello Walker Davis, Albemarle Izzy Bradley, Monticello Jack Stelter, Woodberry Forest Sam Johnson, Western

Most likely to pull off a late pin? most likely to reject a shot? Shawn Metcalf, Fluvanna Aiden Lewandowski, CHS Owen Greslick, Louisa County K.J. Taylor, Orange County Bryan Bradley, Western

Houston Emory, Blue Ridge Christian Stewart, CHS Chloe Rush, William Monroe Josh Morse, Albemarle Lucas Farmer, Western

ELLA WEAVER January 2021 :: 11

11


ZYMIR FAULKNER

5 QUESTIONS FOR BOYS HOOPS PUBLICS In a year filled with questions as basic as when will the season start, it felt appropriate to ask a few more about one of the strangest seasons of all time.

1/

how good can charlottesville be with its tremendous senior trio?

The timing for a shortened, interrupted season isn’t good for anyone, but it has to be particularly frustrating for the Black Knights, who’s senior trio of Zymir Faulkner, Christian Stewart and Nick Motley are as good as any in the public school ranks. The Black Knights have as many known entities as a team could hope for, with Faulkner an electric scorer (he averaged 17.0 points per game as a first team All-JD pick a year ago), Motley a two-way point guard capable of defending as well as he distributes and scores (2.3 steals and 4.5 assists a year ago) and Stewart, a big man with guard skills who notched 11.3 points and 7.0 boards per game a year ago. While the departure of Isaiah Wasington and Jake Bowling will leave important holes to fill, Quincy Edwards, Nasir Lindsay and Khishon Gray should give Charlottesville a lot of options and energy in the lineup outside that triple threat they’re building around. As usual in the last few years, they’ll need to make up for a lack of traditional size in the paint with speed and athleticism but they’ve got that all over the roster. Stewart in particular can be a matchup nightmare and Faulkner is a big guard who can give opposing guards all kinds of problems. Charlottesville should be a force this year when they get on the floor and that senior trio should be able to give the Black Knights will be the main reason why. ✖

12 :: scrimmageplay


5 QUESTIONS

2/

4 PLAYERS TO WATCH Kobe Edmonds

Can western and Albemarle continue their recent string of success?

Fluvanna County Junior 1st team All-JD 19.1 ppg, 3.2 apg

While Charlottesville has some holes to fill, Western will have to replace the area’s top public school player Tommy Mangrum and Albemarle will have to retool its backcourt with Justin Murkey and Dasaun Taylor graduating. The Warriors have plenty of pieces to work with though in senior point guard Andrew Shifflett, an underrated player who does so many different things well and sophomore Josh Sime, one of the area’s top up-and-coming post players who mixes some old school fundamentals with some athletic pop in a 6-foot-8 frame. Throw in Isaac Sumpter, Luca Tesoriere and Lucas Farmer and it’s a strong group of returners for Western. Albemarle will re-tool around two players who suffered season ending injuries a year ago in Josh Morse and Jackson Rose. That gives the Patriots a strong inside-outside combination to build around and develop roles for veterans Chris Woods, Will Hornsby and Wilson Hagen who should all be key contributors.

Christian Stewart Charlottesville Senior 2nd Team All-JD 11.3 ppg, 7.0 rpg

Andrew Shifflett

Just two years removed from a run that ended in the state final four. Goochland lost seven seniors to graduation, including a trio of starters led by point guard Quincy Snead who started for four years. Throw in the departure of 6-foot-6 forward James Bell and the Bulldogs appear to be in a complete rebuild. That’ll put a lot on super athletic senior Kameron Holman, a standout wideout in football, who is a talented guard. He’s working with Jack Hoffler and Gabe Liptak in the backcourt and they’ll get help from De’Andre Robinson at forward. Look for the Bulldogs to push the pace to take advantage of Holman’s athleticism, but his supporting cast will get a chance to develop in a big way with a lot of minutes available.

5/

Who are the other teams to watch in the public ranks?

While Albemarle, Western and Charlottesville appear set to continue to be in the mix at the top of the area’s public schools, Louisa County is rebuilding after the Lions’ remarkable run the last few years. That leaves the door open for programs to move up the local ladder and several teams appear set to make a leap. Like William Monroe led by 1,000-point scorer Logan Barbour. The Dragons beat defending region champ Central Woodstock in early January to get things moving early. There’s also Orange County and Silhe Mthethwa who notched 51 points in a game against Fluvanna in early January, but has to overcome the absence of J.J. McDonald, the Hornets’ star point guard. The return of guard Jackson Taylor could spark Madison in a big way while Dyllan Thompson has played well early for Monticello.

William Monroe Senior 1st Team All-NWD 14.0 ppg, 5.8 rpg

STEAL SQUAD The local public ranks have several strong defensive backcourt players back in the mix this year including these three standouts. Here’s how many steals per game they notched a year ago.

2.6 2.3 2.1 A. SHIFFETT, WAHS

4/

how does goochland rebuild around its guards?

Logan Barbour

NICK MOTLEY, CHS

Early returns including wins over Western and Orange indicate the Flucos are well on their way to figuring this equation out. Fluvanna took a step forward last year in Heath Bralley’s first season at the helm, going 9-13 and showing some serious signs of getting back to where the program has been in the past. The Flucos have a leading man in Kobe Edmonds, who averaged 19.1 points and 3.2 assists last year and had several particularly explosive nights, including a 31-point effort in a narrow loss to Charlottesville and a 29-point effort in a win over Monticello. He has a new cast around him though with six seniors graduating and a couple of key transfers from last year’s lineup. John Rittenhouse will need to step up as will seniors Daniel Campbell and Chris Whittle while Xavier Copeland gives the Flucos defensive intensity, rebounding and energy they lacked at times last year. Sophomore Jaden Ferguson should also see an expanded role and gives the Flucos another speedy guard. Four junior newcomers are also contributing in critical roles led by Maurice D’Alessandro, an electric scorer.

KOBE EDMONDS, FLUVANNA

3/

Western Albemarle Senior 2nd Team All-JD 2.1 spg, 4.4 rpg, 2.8 apg

Can fluvanna find the right pieces around kobe edmonds?

January 2021 ::

13


MICHAEL GRAY

5 QUESTIONS FOR BOYS HOOPS PRIVATES In a year filled with questions as basic as when will the season start, it felt appropriate to ask a few more about one of the strangest seasons of all time.

1/

Is this potentially the most entertaining blue ridge team in recent memory?

Picking out the best Blue Ridge basketball team in this current era is a little like picking your favorite ice cream flavor — they’re all really good, some of it’s simply a matter of personal choice. But there’s an argument to be made that this edition is one of the most intriguing and deepest the Barons have assembled during this run. It starts with a ridiculously loaded backcourt with reigning state player of the year and George Mason signee Michael Gray running with UC-Riverside signee Kobe Jerome. On the wing there’s the crazy athletic Derrick Jones and underneath there’s Maliq Brown who’s got a chance to join Aamir Simms and Mamadi Diakite as former Blue Ridge School big men who’ve made an impact at the high major level. It’s telling that we’ve listed four other players before getting to the 6-foot-10 big man Houston Emory who has an offer from Penn State among others — that’s how deep Blue Ridge goes. There are some fantastic other pieces too that have already shown a lot of flash like Devin Walker and Zion Clark at guard, Levi Pigues on the wing and Macon Emory and Shannon Simango in the frontcourt. While the Barons’ season won’t look like recent other campaigns, the core of a 30-win state title-winning squad is back and Blue Ridge’s defense, talent and length is going to make life tough on any opponent. ✖

14 :: scrimmageplay


Maliq Brown

Is stab ready to make the leap with Justin taylor leading the way?

Blue Ridge Junior 14.3 ppg, 5.9 rpg 1.8 bpg

The last two years at St. Anne’s-Belfield, the Saints have won opening round games in the state tournament, but have fallen one win short of the VISAA’s state final four in Division I. Considering how challenging playing in that division is, that’s no small feat, but junior Justin Taylor is a special player, a national Top 50 recruit with offers from reigning national champion UVa and Indiana among many others. He’s also got some really interesting pieces around him, like big man Carter Lang, talented point guard John St. Germain and sharpshooter Chance Mallory. With Eli Bennett and freshman Austin Williford rounding out the bulk of the rotation, the Saints have the chance to be more aggressive defensively while packing some serious punch on the offensive end where any of those players could reach double figures on any given night. Given a normal year, this could be the year STAB finds itself back in the final four but playoff action aside, the Saints will be a challenging matchup for everyone who takes them on in 2021.

what other squads are ready to step up in 2021?

Fork Union’s team got a couple of games in before going on the school’s extended break, and Casey Labasky, Isaac Rivera and Bobby Gardner showed some promise offensively in the Blue Devils’ win over New Covenant. Cameron Wallace is an athletic force who gives the Blue Devils a rock underneath. At Covenant, the Eagles have a lot of retooling to do with a significant senior exodus from last year’s 21-win campaign. Tandem faces a similar rebuilding project with Kobi Copeland and Dean Lockley graduating. Regents, the 2020 VACA champions, returns star scorers Landon Swingler and Quinton Renigar for the Lions’ title defense, and sophomore Micah Tiwari appears capable of giving them a spark. If Regents can build on a 3-1 start from December, they could have a big-time season in 2021.

5/

Noah Adams

Woodberry Forest Senior 9.8 ppg Shenandoah signee

how does miller gel together around rupert?

Miller only recently got a chance to get on the floor, but this could be an interesting campaign for the Mavericks. Miller has a foundational piece in Clarence Rupert, a St. Peter’s commitment who averaged 18.4 points per game, but there are a lot of question marks for the Mavericks beyond Rupert just three seasons removed from a state championship run. Eli DeLaurier already has offers from Texas A&M and Virginia Tech as a sophomore and is long on potential. But with the graduation of Amir Nesbitt and Quadir Pettaway now at Woodside High, the Mavericks will have to retool the backcourt around talented scorers Jacob Rice and T.K. Bryant, but if they can solve that issue and find someone to feed Rupert and DeLaurier, the Mavericks can be dangerous. In fairness, Rupert is skilled enough to do some of the ball handling himself, and that could make Miller a unique team to scheme against this season.

4/

Miller School Senior 18.4 ppg St. Peter’s signee

Landon Swingler

Regents Senior 2020 VACA State POTY

BOARD MEN GET PAID A bunch of leading rebounders are back across the area, but these three are some of the best. Here’s what they averaged per game a year ago.

9.8 6.1

woodberry has depth, how will it translate on the floor?

Woodberry Forest boys basketball has perhaps its deepest squad since Craig Dawson took the helm nine years ago. The depth starts with Shenandoah pledge, 6-foot-0 guard Noah Adams. Adams is extremely well rounded and gets the most out of every ounce of ability out of his body, averaging 9.8 points, 3.0 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game last year. Now he has a running mate in Stevan Bajski, a 6-foot-5 Serbian who plays on the wing and should give Woodberry some scoring punch. Jojo Beal is also back in the fold at guard while Spencer Legg gives the Tigers a frontcourt presence. While this season won’t look the same as past campaigns, the Tigers have an excellent chance to improve on last year’s 4-win season.

CARTER LANG, STAB

3/

Clarence Rupert

5.9 MALIQ BROWN, BRS

2/

4 PLAYERS TO WATCH

ELI DELAURIER, MILLER

5 QUESTIONS

January 2021 ::

15


ANDREA LEFKOWITZ

5 QUESTIONS FOR GIRLS HOOPS PUBLICS In a year filled with questions as basic as when will the season start, it felt appropriate to ask a few more about one of the strangest seasons of all time.

1/

How deep and talented is this year’s edition of Louisa county?

While Olivia McGhee burst on the scene as a freshman last year, after Alexis Miller went down with an injury early in the year, McGhee was something of a one-woman band. This year, the reigning Jefferson District player of the year has running mates — lots of them. That starts with Sylvie Jackson, an Albemarle transfer who can pass, defend, shoot and attack and earned All-JD first team honors last season. Jackson has already had some explosive games for the Lions including a 28-point outburst against Charlottesville. With McGhee drawing a ton of attention from opposing defenses, Jackson makes things particularly tough on opponents if they choose to try and concentrate on McGhee. But that’s just the tip of the spear for the Lions. There’s also Alexis Chapman, Lydia Wilson, Emion Byers and Taylor Fifer, all players who have shined at various times for the Lions so far this year, particularly when Louisa cranks up the press. All are capable of trapping and creating turnovers as well as finishing off the break and playing at the speed Louisa is looking to play at if early results are any indication. Louisa can also always turn to McGhee or Jackson to take over too, a luxury nobody else in the district has. But both are perfectly capable of creating production within the system, knocking down 3-pointers, attacking off the dribble or setting up teammates by making the extra pass. Louisa has all the makings of its finest team in years. ✖

16 :: scrimmageplay


5 QUESTIONS

Sylvie Jackson

how do chs, monticello and fluvanna handle their youth movements?

Louisa County Sophomore 1st team All-JD

Charlottesville’s girls squad is used to competing at the top of the Jefferson District standings and they’ve got the talent to be in that mix again, but that talent is young with just a single senior, Andrea Lefkowitz on the roster. Lefkowitz is a good one though, a first team All-JD pick. The Black Knights are high on potential with freshmen Makiaya Brown and Rayquel Allen and juniors Vanessa Antwi and Lakia Thompson who already showed a flair for the dramatic this year with a game-winning 3-pointer against Fluvanna. Monticello will lean on four freshman on an eight-woman roster, and based on a season opening win at Albemarle, they’re in good shape with Samantha Shifflett and Dylan Wood add some scoring punch. The Flucos graduated a lot of scoring punch in Nevaeh Ivory, Mya Wright and Jules Shepherd, and they’ve turned to a pack of sophomores in Alana Carter-Johnston, Aniah Webb, Eva Stribling and Abby Seal to carry the offensive load along with seniors KeKe Davis and Allyson Crother. All three squads — Charlottesville, Monticello and Fluvanna — should be massively improved as the year goes on and the young players get tons of minutes under their belts.

Western Albemarle Senior 9.6 ppg

can Albemarle, goochland and madison develop supporting casts?

Albemarle has a bonafide creator in the mix with Amaya Pendelton, a second team All-Jefferson District pick as a sophomore last season. The Patriots need to get some more pieces going to challenge in a tough district slate, and Albemarle has a slew of young players including a packed sophomore class including Maggie Lynn and Kaley Maynard to look to for development. Madison returns two All-Bull Run players in Sterlyn Woodward and Lindsay McDaniel and some early wins indicate they’re on their way. Goochland has senior Gabby Ragone, a scrappy defensive force, back in the mix, but they’ll need to build the rest of the squad around her. ✖

Amaya Pendelton Albemarle Junior Second Team All-JD

ELECTRIC SCORERS Already this season, three scorers are making their mark on the JD. Here are their early averages for 2021.

21.0 19.0 18.0 ANDREA LEFKOWITZ, CHS

can western Albemarle find enough offense to match their usual stingy defense?

Western Albemarle’s defense is always rock solid, the annual question is where does the offense come from for the Warriors? It starts with Mattie Shearer, the Duke lacrosse commitment who’ll run the point for Western. Shearer is a gritty, rugged defender and while not particularly tall, she plays bigger than her height and can out-grind most anyone. She’s part of a large senior class that includes Kate Wallace (who has expanded her game in the offseason and posted 13 points and 10 boards in the Warriors’ opener), Elle Smartt, Karina Long and Molly Swales. Junior Dylan Mitchell is coming along nicely and freshman Ava Ewen has gotten off to a hot start already this year. The Warriors have more depth than the rest of the district slate outside of Louisa, and that should allow them to weather some of the ups and downs of what’s sure to be an interesting 2021 campaign.

5/

Mattie Shearer

Can william monroe keep its run of impressive play rolling?

William Monroe seniors Hailey Morris and Iyanna Carey have contributed to a lot of wins during their careers with the Dragons, and this year doesn’t appear to be any different despite the graduation of Martha Apple. Sophomore Ella Weaver has elevated her game from what was already a pretty strong debut as a freshman. Weaver’s move to the point early this season is indicative of the kind of ball-handler and force she can be and it gets Morris, a natural shooting guard, off the ball for longer stretches than the past when she had to be the primary ball handler. Chloe Rush has also stepped her game up as a force in the post. The Dragons don’t have a ton of depth and will lean on some younger players in key roles outside that experienced core, but that group of returners may be good enough to power another strong campaign.

4/

William Monroe Senior 1st team All-NWD

SYLVIE JACKSON, LOUISA COUNTY

3/

Hailey Morris

OLIVIA MCGHEE, LOUISA COUNTY

2/

4 PLAYERS TO WATCH

January 2021 ::

17


PRESLEIGH BRAXTON

3 QUESTIONS FOR GIRLS HOOPS PRIVATES In a year filled with questions as basic as when will the season start, it felt appropriate to ask a few more about one of the strangest seasons of all time.

1/

How talented and tough is STAB?

St. Anne’s-Belfield has been producing guards on guards on guards for awhile now, ranging from JMU’s Bri Tinsley to Christopher Newport’s Jovia Winkey in recent years. That line of strong backcourt players was obviously going to continue with Kymora Johnson, one of the nation’s top guard recruits in the Class of 2023, but now Johnson gets a pair of running partners as Olivia Wagner heads to STAB after an impressive run at Miller and Ruby Adkins joins the Saints after lining up for Stuart Hall the past couple of years. That creates one of the area’s, if not the state’s best backcourts with all three players capable of scoring off the dribble or setting up teammates. Johnson averaged 16.7 points, 8.3 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 4.0 steals per game last year while Wagner put up 17.9 points, 4.2 boards and 3.5 steals per game. Adkins averaged 23.2 points, 7.5 assists and 5.1 boards per game for Stuart Hall last year. They’re all three also pretty good working off the ball as cutters or spot up shooters, which will make them more than capable of playing together and working off each other. Not that it’ll be any kind of threwoman game, the Saints bring back criminally underrated senior Daija Bennett who averaged 10.0 points and 2.4 steals per game last year as well as sophomore Sabrina Lewis. Juniors Khamare Steppe and Lyric Branch are also set to be back and each averaged more than four boards per game. Maddie Rice gives STAB some added depth. When and if the Saints get a chance to play they’re going to be their usually fearsome selves, with depth and speed to spare. Pairing up Wagner and Johnson with a helping of Adkins thrown in though? That makes any opposing guard who can’t play defense a complete liability. ✖

18 :: scrimmageplay


3 QUESTIONS

2/

How does miller rebuild around Presleigh Braxton?

Miller’s girls basketball team is accustomed to competing for state titles on a regular basis as last year’s state final four loss to Steward — in a game where fouls stacked up quickly for the Mavericks — snapped a string of six straight championship game appearances that led to five straight state titles from 2014 to 2018. This season the Mavericks have Presleigh Braxton back to lead the way. Braxton is a sophomore point guard who grew up in Miller’s gym in a lot of ways, the daughter of head coach James Braxton. She played well as an eighth grader and then took things up a notch last year alongside Olivia Wagner, with Braxton dishing out 4.1 assists to go with 12.3 points per game. With Wagner gone, the graduation of Talia Prosper and Miller dealing with the absence of Central Connecticut commitment Shauna Russell who’s unable to return from Ireland because of COVID-19 as well as Larissa Cole who tore an ACL, even more of the load will fall on Braxton’s shoulders. While Braxton can be a streaky shooter, she seems to be at her best when she’s setting the table for others and playing defense — a true point guard. Odds are good she’ll have to be a little bit of everything this year, but she’ll have some help from Mikalaha Thompson, Ella Smith and Kennedy Johnson on the wing as well as a pair of talented eighth graders in Lily Pallante and Naomi Ryan. Playing kids in eighth grade has worked out for the Mavericks pretty well lately as Braxton herself can attest. If those young players can jump into serious roles, that’ll go a long way toward helping Braxton continue to be as productive as she’s been the past couple of years and keep Miller in that state tournament mix if a state tournament is held.

3/

can covenant and tandem rebuild after losing focal points?

While STAB and Miller are bringing back full cupboards and known entities, Covenant and Tandem both have their work cut out for them in order to rebuild this year while also trying to determine if they’ll play games. The Eagles graduated both Ella Dalton and Claire Marie Colley, the squad’s two double digit scorers with Dalton notching a double double seemingly every night with 17.2 points and 14.2 boards per contest while tossing in another 4.5 assists and 4.8 steals each night. That’s a ton of production to replace on its own, and with Colley notching 11.1 points per game, there’s more to account for. Covenant will turn to seniors Stella Maton and Isabella Harris, the squad’s leading returning scorer and rebounder respectively, to carry the load. Harris is tough on the boards with 9.3 rebounds per contest while Maton scored 7.8 points per game. She’ll need to get on track for the Eagles to get the offense going. Tandem will have to rework without Alana Carter-Johnston heading to Fluvanna after averaging 21.0 points and 4.6 steals per game as a freshman. The Badgers will likely turn to seniors Stella Lane (11.2 points and 8.3 boards per game as a junior) and Elaine Xie to carry the load, but they’re going to have to develop some offensive playmakers as Carter-Johnston accounted for nearly half their points last year. ✖

4 PLAYERS TO WATCH Olivia Wagner

St. Anne’s-Belfield Junior All-State 17.9 ppg, 3.5 spg

Daija Bennett

St. Anne’s-Belfield Senior 10.0 ppg, 2.4 spg

Isabella Harris Covenant School Senior 9.3 rpg

Presleigh Braxton Miller School Sophomore All-State 12.3 ppg, 4.1 apg

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WALKER DAVIS

5 QUESTIONS FOR SWIMMING ALL SCHOOLS In a year filled with questions as basic as when will the season start, it felt appropriate to ask a few more about one of the strangest seasons of all time.

ATHENA VANYO

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20 :: scrimmageplay

can the Western girls and boys repeat if a state championship is held?

Can the Western girls and boys repeat? Western Albemarle’s girls and boys double dipped for a state title again last year, with the boys winning a third straight state title with a strong one-two punch of Noah Hargrove and Tyce Winter. The recent era of swimmers that stretched back to August Lamb ended with Hargrove and Winter graduating, and the boys will have to rebuild both from a points perspective and leadership perspective if a state meet of some sort happens. The Warriors turn to their strong dive squad led by Wade and Trevor Donalson as well as reigning state champion in the 200 freestyle Sam Johnson to lead the way in points, while Peyton Wray will be an important part of the boys mix in the freestyle and backstroke. Juniors Matthew Heilman, Jackson Schundler and Noah Johnson will also factor in while Jack Smith and Anthony Garono will look to take a step forward as sophomores after strong freshman campaigns. On the girls side, Western got it done with depth a year ago and that’ll likely be the approach this year too with a strong senior class of Kathryn Burr, Maya Chatterson, Libby Addison, Casey Phillips, Lily Fitzpatrick and Kimball Sheehan all capable of scoring points at the state meet. Add in juniors Virginia Smith and Elke Beaumont as well as Julie Addison and as usual the Warriors have a series of standouts across the roster. Getting in any type of season will be a relief at this point, but you can bet that a Western program that regularly delivers on the big stage will be prepared when it gets its chance. ✖


Ryan Taylor

Can Albemarle build on a pair of top 10 finishes from 2020?

William Monroe Senior

Albemarle’s swim team is among the area’s best year-in and year-out while competing at the state level with Class 5 squads that are ridiculously loaded. Going up against those loaded fields is what made last year’s double top 10 finish — the boys sixth, the girls 10th — such an impressive feat. This year, the boys and girls both bring back their top point scorers. For the boys, that’s Walker Davis, a UNC signee who won the Class 5 state title in the 100 backstroke while taking second in the 50 freestyle with two All-American times. For the girls, it’s Sophia Yu, a junior who took seventh in the 50 free and 14th in the 100 fly as a sophomore. Having the top line swimmers back in the fold is a start, but the Patriots will need more depth and with Teddy Cross also returning for the boys, there’s a nucleus to work with. For the girls, Claire Moody (a Denison pledge) and Avery Huang are both also back and along with newcomer Grey Davis give the Patriots some serious punch.

On the boys side, who else is out there to keep an eye on?

There are a number of boys swimmers worth watching on an individual basis too. There’s Tennessee commitment Jack Stelter at Woodberry Forest who won the 100 and 200 freestyle relays at states a year ago. He led the Tigers to a state runner-up finish a year ago. STAB will be able to lean on University of Chicago pledge Zach Ashby who had a pair of top 10 finishes at states last season while Gresh Chapman returns in diving after a fourth place state finish last year. At William Monroe, Gardner Webb commit Ryan Taylor notched two top ten finishes at the Class 3 state meet including a fourth in the 100 breaststroke. All three of those swimmers should be a major factor for their respective squads, and every year a ton of unknown swimmers step to the forefront. Look for some surprises in 2021.

5/

Sam Johnson

How good could the Monticello girls be?

It’s hard to overstate just how special the group of female swimmers Monticello has in the mix currently, but the results show it, with the Mustangs continuing a meteoric rise through the Class 3 ranks with a runner-up finish in last year’s state meet powered by Athena Vanyo and Izzy Bradley, a pair of UVa commitments. Along the way those two are rewriting state record books like they did last year with a record in the 200 medley relay, Bradley’s state meet record in the 50 free and a new state record in the 200 free. Considering the ridiculously good swimmers from Western Albemarle and Cave Spring that swam in recent years in that meet, that’s particularly impressive. Vanyo won the 100 fly and took second in the 200 IM in the state last year while Bradley tacked on a 100 backstroke title to her record-setting performance. Junior Elisabeth Bendall also returns to the mix after being part of last year’s medley relay record setters, so it’s pretty clear the Mustangs have a chance to be just as good as last year, if not a touch better. They’ll certainly be a major factor this season just like they were in the last campaign.

4/

Monticello Junior

On the girls side, who can be a major factor?

Fluvanna County’s girls got a touch overshadowed by Western and Monticello last year, but with a seventh place finish as a team last year, the Flucos have some firepower back in the fold led by Richmond commitment Abby Fuller, who took second in the 50 free and third in the 100 free in last year’s Class 3 state meet. The Flucos also have senior Abigayle Harlow who had a pair of top 10 finishes herself in the state meet last year and Lauren Davis who took third in Region 3C in diving a year ago. ✖

Western Albemarle Junior

Sophia Yu Albemarle Junior

STACKING ‘SHIPS Since the split to six classes in 2014 for swimming state championships, Western has owned Class 3.

9 WESTERN’S BOYS AND GIRLS STATE TITLES

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Izzy Bradley

3 2 OTHERS

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4 SWIMMERS TO WATCH

HIDDEN VALLEY

5 QUESTIONS

January 2021 ::

21


SHAWN METCALF

5 QUESTIONS FOR WRESTLING ALL SCHOOLS In a year filled with questions as basic as when will the season start, it felt appropriate to ask a few more about one of the strangest seasons of all time.

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who are the candidates to become the area’s best big man?

For the last five seasons, the Scrimmage Play area has been home to at least one heavyweight state champion in wrestling. Last year, Madison County’s Jacob Sacra won the Class 2 title in dramatic fashion as a sophomore. For four years before that, Covenant’s Rick Weaver won four straight state titles with William Monroe’s Austin Rath joining Weaver as a champion in 2017 with the Class 3 championship in Salem. There’s no obvious heir to the throne with Sacra, a top tier football recruit, transferring to St. Frances Academy in Baltimore, but several wrestlers in the heaviest two weight classes have a chance to make a serious impact this year. Woodberry Forest’s Simon Taylor was a state runner-up in 2020 as a junior at 220 pounds and is slated to return to the lineup for the Tigers. At William Monroe, the Marcotte brothers occupy the 220 and heavyweight spots, with Connor Marcotte at 220 and Ethan Marcotte at heavyweight. Connor went 2-0 in the Dragons’ opening match of the season with wins over Fluvanna and Madison County. Ethan also picked up a win and a forfeit in that match. Both brothers were state qualifiers a year ago, so both have had some success in the postseason. Goochland’s Ayden Doczi, an All-Region 3B football player, is quick and athletic. Fluvanna’s Jason Hamshar has shifted up to 220 pounds this year and is a rugged, tough competitor at that spot. Western’s Will Donovan went 23-14 a year ago and will wrestle 220 with some valuable experience under his belt. ✖

22 :: scrimmageplay


5 QUESTIONS

Owen Greslick

is there a state title contender lurking in the middle weights?

Louisa County Junior 120 pounds 2020 state qualifier 22-5 in 2019-20

Contingent on there being a VHSL state tournament, the answer here probably has to start with Fluvanna County’s Shawn Metcalf. Metcalf was a state quarterfinalist a year ago and is an obviously talented athlete. He’s also adept at handling high stakes matches, as his battle with Joey Burch of Western last year showed. He was 22-5 heading into the state tournament last year and after fighting just to get the chance to get on the mat, if he can make it to Salem again, he’ll surely be highly motivated. Louisa’s Owen Greslick, a two-time state qualifier for the Lions, is another wrestler that immediately comes to mind that’s capable of making a run, while Orange’s K.J. Taylor and Taylor Jenkins were both state quarterfinalists a year ago in Class 4. CHS senior Aiden Lewandowski could also get in the mix after going 28-8 prior to the state tournament before advancing to the state quarterfinals.

Charlottesville Senior 132 pounds 2020 state qualifier 28-8 in 2019-2020

who else could find themselves on the podium in the postseason?

Christopher Carr

One of the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic is that not a lot of club wrestling was happening, so it’s hard to know whether wrestlers had the chance to develop, improve and sharpen their skillset over the last year. But there are a number of wrestlers who had strong finishes to last year that could find themselves building on it if they get a chance to take the mat this year. William Monroe’s Connor Redieske, Chris Taft and Kaleb Doshier all got state tournament experience under their belt a year ago and Goochland’s Reece Vincent and Max Moreno could be factors at the Class 2 level while Western’s Joey Burch and Bryan Bradley both had strong seasons a year ago. Fork Union is slated to have two seniors, Christopher Carr (106) and Logan Kreamer (120 pounds) who each finished third a year ago in the VISAA meet as juniors. Covenant’s lone state placer a year ago, Matthew Knowles, is scheduled to join the lineup again too.

While team wrestling state titles are beyond rare in the Scrimmage Play area — no public school has won a state title according to the VHSL record book and the last private school title was Woodberry winning the VISAA championship in 1998. Fork Union had a strong campaign a year ago with a third place finish. This year the Blue Devils had the right pieces back to be able to build on last year’s performance, but overcoming the graduation of John Gritsko, the state runnerup at 152 pounds, would’ve been a challenge and now the VISAA seems to have decided to cancel the state tournament. Outside of the Blue Devils, William Monroe and Orange bring back the most state qualifiers of the public schools, but challenging for a team title is a huge mountain to scale. But in a weird school year? Where a lot of unprecedented things have happened? A wrestling team title wouldn’t be that crazy.

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Connor Redieske William Monroe Senior 126 Pounds 2020 State Qualifier

SEASONED SQUADS William Monroe’s five returning state meet qualifiers is the area’s top pack of returning qualifiers.

5

how likely is it that wrestlers can pull off a complete season?

Wrestling at first glance seems like a minefield for COVID-19 issues because of the sport’s close contact, which is likely why Fluvanna’s season was initially cancelled. But in a way,wrestling’s one-on-one nature, the ability to group up with training partners and the sport’s already almost obsessive approach to cleanliness related to concerns like ringworm makes wrestlers uniquely well prepared to handle the challenges the pandemic presents. If schools are diligent, can work out the kinks and have the facilities to create spacing, wrestling may be able to get through the year with relatively few challenges. ✖

2 WILLIAM MONROE

4/

what team is best suited to make noise in states as a team?

Fork Union Senior 106 Pounds Third Place in VISAA in 2020

2 FLLUVANNA

3/

Aiden Lewandowski

ORANGE

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4 WRESTLERS TO WATCH

January 2021 ::

23


Game Time Western girls 54, Fluvanna 48 By Jake Bowling

Western Albemarle’s Kate Wallace looks for room to pass while Fluvanna’s KeKe Davis defends. (Bart Isley)

24 :: scrimmageplay

Playing a team with five games under their belt already, with a ton of new faces in the lineup, and now the entire team wearing face masks during the game, the Western Albemarle girls basketball team had a lot to adjust to during their first game of the season. “That is a program specific thing.” Western head coach Kris Wright said of the masks. “The studies show that it is somewhat safer, but also right now there are other teams in our region wearing masks in games.” Western needed near perfect execution down the stretch with all the new factors going into this game and after relinquishing a double-digit lead, the Warriors did just that holding off a scrappy Fluvanna team, 54-48. Mattie Shearer, a Duke lacrosse signee, scored 14 points in the first half to help Western to a comfortable lead. “This is her third year of varsity, and her second year as the full time point guard where she’s handling a lot of the decisions,” Western head coach Kris Wright said of the senior guard. “Her ability to not get tired, and to just keep coming and keep coming, that comes with its ups and downs sometimes but we think on the balance it usually works to our favor just to let her play as hard as she can.” Shearer hit a jumper at the first quarter buzzer and came up with numerous hustle plays that really spearheaded a balanced Western attack in the first half, but Fluvanna fought to stay in it and only trailed 27-20 at the end of the second. The Flucos made a big run at the end of

the third, led by Alana Carter-Johnson. She scored 10 in the quarter including a huge three to pull within four. Ava Ewen then hit a monster three for Western at the buzzer to keep the Warriors ahead by seven, 41-34. That basket proved to be big down the stretch because the Flucos almost snatched the win. Aniah Webb canned a corner three, her first bucket of the game, for Fluvanna with three minutes left to tie things up at 45. The three capped a 11-4 run tracing back to the third for the Flucos. Western’s Karina Long promptly hit an and one but missed the free throw to put the Warriors up 47-45. Fluvanna then missed the front end of a one and one and Long sank two free throws at the other end for a four point lead with 1:19 to play. Webb nailed another three for Fluvanna to bring it back to one, but Western’s Dylan Mitchell answered with an and one of her own to help Western pull away. “Credit to Fluvanna, they made a couple big shots at the end,” Wright said. “I have a feeling a lot of games this year are gonna be like that.” Mattie Shearer scored 18 total for the Warriors (1-0, 1-0). Kate Wallace put together a big night for Western too with a double double, finishing with 13 points and 10 rebounds. For Fluvanna (2-4, 1-4) Alana CarterJohnson scored a game high 19. KeKe Davis-Heinriech notched nine. Abby Seal added 7 for Fluvanna. ✖


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See a photograph you like? Defensive stand Warriors goalie has more than one trick | By Ryan Yemen

At Scrimmage Play we pride our selves on offering the best possible graphics Twowe years ago the Albemarle boys to Shin,our who doubles as a Junior National Judo can getWestern our hands on, in both soccer team was fueled by its underclassmen medalist, but has developed into one of the magazine asfreshman well as at our atversatile goalkeepers. with sophomores and bearing the website area’s most The netminder has shown he’s capable of www.scrimmageplay.com making big saves, particularly in the team’s

brunt of the work load. Now two years later, forwards Aaron Myers and Alex Nolet, as well as senior defender Tom Rogers are all in their senior seasons and looking to earn a Region II bid, something that Orange County snatched away from them in the Jefferson District semifinals last season. After the first month of play, the Warriors seem to have the defensive side of the equation figured out and junior goalkeeper Kai Shin is a big part of that. Before Western went on its spring break, none of its four opponents were able to score more than once, a testament to the team’s play in the middle of the field, but also a nod

two ties. In the first game of the season, Shin endured wave after wave of Albemarle attack, but stood tall and showed no rust in the 1-1- tie. But while Shin’s on the field because he can make stops, his strong leg has also been of great use as he’s able to easily clear the zone but also spark fast breaks all by himself. The Warriors averaged a little over two goals per contest before the break, but if that average starts to increase, don’t be surprised if it’s because of Shin’s ability to contribute to the transition game. ✖

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Western Albemarle’s Kai Shin hauls in a shot during his team’s 1-1 tie with Albemarle that kicked off the soccer season for both squads. (Frank Crocker)


On the Sidelines

How do sports get back to normal? It has been, to say the least, a tumultuous year

L

ets assume for a second that we all understand that sports far and away are not the most important part of the COVID-19 equation. That we all understand that there are lives that have been cut short, jobs lost and untold impacts across the country that relegate sports to an afterthought in the grand scheme of things. But setting those more serious and grave consequences aside for a little bit, it’s hard to know really what class has been impacted more by COVID-19, but there has been plenty of frustration and irritation to go around. The Class of 2020 lost an entire spring sports season, never getting a chance to complete their high school careers. Most of them also lost prom, a typical graduation and the memories you create over that final semester of high school. That period of time is ingrained in my own recollections of high school and in some way defines that era, so I have some idea about what they missed — it’s significant. A lot of the members of the Class of 2021 have faced something perhaps even stranger — an entire year to date of virtual education and virtually no sports competition until recently. No homecoming, no fall football games, no marching band, no in-person class elections for clubs. Opportunities to learn in-person leadership skills have been lost. Mental health has suffered significantly. Like Preston in Can’t Hardly Wait (that movie might be old, but it holds up, give it a look, you’re surely almost out of entertainment options), it took me years to work up the courage to ask certain girls out, if I ever did. I imagine the unrequited and unconfessed love numbers are off the charts right now for the Class of 2021. I don’t know how we can possibly help on that front here at Scrimmage Play, but if we can, let us know and in any event we’ve been there and we know the struggle. For college bound seniors, the NCAA’s awarding of an extra year of eligibility has cut down significantly on the number of roster spots and scholarships available to this year’s senior class next year in college. The Classes of 2022 and 2023 college bound athletes might be one of the hardest hit athletically as the bulk of recruiting happens in those two seasons. While a lot of travel squads have tried to fill that void, it has been hard to do safely and in-person recruiting has essentially hit the skids. That means opportunities for late bloomers and players trying to get on the radar — don’t forget it was pretty late in the cycle that even Javin Delaurier picked up his offer from Duke — have been few and far between. I don’t think we’ve ever been in a situation quite like we’re facing right now, so it’s hard to even know what the possible answers or ramifications of that development are going to be, but it’s certainly worth keeping an eye on. The Class of 2024 in many cases has had to start high school without ever physically walking into that school. That’s not an easy task at all. Trying to find ways to virtually fit into a high school environment outside of class is a supreme challenge that few know how to navigate. We have no idea what all these changes and impacts will have on this January 2021 ::

27

“Most of them also lost prom, a typical graduation and the memories you create over that final semester of high school.” cohort of student athletes. Nobody has the answers because it’s uncharted territory. Hopefully we as a community can acknowledge the drastic impact that this pandemic has had on students across the spectrum in high school. Formative experiences and opportunities to learn have been lost. It’s up to us as a society to find ways to make up for the deficit, and that starts by listening to the students who’ve experienced those deficits. They need a voice as we all try and recover, get back on track and possibly take this as an opportunity to improve our perspective and the world of high school sports at large. ✖ Bart Isley CREATIVE DIRECTOR

back talk »

How do we keep moving forward in the sports community? Email Bart at: bart@scrimmageplay.com


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2021 Winter Sports Yearbook  

This isn't really a preview, but for the first time in a long time there's enough happening in the world of prep sports for us to do a digit...

2021 Winter Sports Yearbook  

This isn't really a preview, but for the first time in a long time there's enough happening in the world of prep sports for us to do a digit...

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