Boys Basketball Captures Regional Championship

Patrick Strong, Editor

The Boy’s Basketball team took home their third regional championship in program history on Tuesday night. Forge entered the night as technical “underdogs,” although the team never appeared fazed going on the road into a relatively hostile environment at James River. The 56-51 victory was headlined by Martin Kawa (‘20), who lead the way with 20 points, as well as their so-often-emphasized “defensive mindset,” which first year Head Coach Anthony Mills has been instilling in the team since their first summer workout.

It’s no secret that Boys Basketball didn’t have the highest of expectations going into this year. A 7-win 2018 season combined with a 4-9 start to the 2019 outing led to lots of doubts about the program’s future, despite the visible promise the squad showed through their first 13 affairs. However, the entire Forge community is now reaping the benefits of this team’s hard work, as they are currently in the midst of a 12-game win streak dating back to early January.

This crew that seemingly came out of nowhere to capture the regional championship will now gear up for their first state tournament game since the 2015 State Championship victory over Westfield. However, this group has made it clear they want to leave the program’s history exactly where it is: in the past. This is a new group, under a new regime, and regardless of their youth or apparent bright future, everyone within the program feels as if their time is now.

On Friday, they will be taking on the Oscar Smith Tigers, a school with which Colonial Forge has a long and painful history. Three football state semi-final losses have occurred at the hands of the Tigers, all since 2013. The Tigers enter the game with a 23-2 record and are led by BriQuan Harrell, a two-sport star which Forge fans may remember for controversially transferring into Oscar Smith just one week prior to the 2017 state semi-final football game.

“Trusting the process,” a moniker popularized by the Philadelphia 76ers in the basketball world, is a slogan Coach Anthony Mills often leaned on when his team went through an early season identity crisis as they looked to move on from the days of past.

“There really is no pressure, but it does sit in the back of my mind. Those years they won states were some good basketball years. We are trying to come in and create our own identity,” Mills said. The Eagles full court, up-tempo style of play eventually became that identity. Chaos is this team’s specialty, a forte which few teams have the wherewithal to pull off. “The goal at the end is to return the program to that level of play,” Mills said.

Win or lose on Friday, Mills and his staff have done just that, taking a team few saw coming out of the first round and bringing out their true potential in the form of a regional championship. The Eagles will host the match-up with Oscar Smith at “neutral” site North Stafford High School. Tip off will be at 7 p.m.