Capital Beltway Playoff Preview

By MARCUS HELTON

The Capitol Beltway Athletic Association Playoffs open March 7 with a pair of quarterfinal contests. Semifinals will be played at the higher seeds this Friday, and the Championship is set for 7 pm Saturday at Prince George’s Community College’s Novak Field House.

No. 2 seed Riverdale comes in as the hottest team in the league, having beaten DeMatha and No. 1 Rock Creek Christian in a non-league contest Monday to claim the Maryland Private School Championship at Riverdale Baptist. It was the Crusaders’ first win over the Eagles in four attempts this season, and if this week holds true to the regular-season standings, they could meet for a fifth time - and with another title on the line - this Saturday.

Here’s a look at this week’s CBAA field and matchups:

#6 CAPITAL CHRISTIAN @ #3 VIRGINIA ACADEMY, 7:45 PM

The Warriors (27-13, 1-9) notched their lone CBAA win against Virginia Academy all the way back on November 30 in what ended up being the only time the teams met during the regular season. CCA is led in scoring by Alvin Cox (17.3 points per game), Kieron Williams (15.7) and Kobby Ayetey (15.3).

The Patriots (19-10, 6-4) have been strong in their second year in the league, led by a pair of Division I-bound seniors in point guard Jahlil Jenkins (Fairleigh Dickinson) and center Ejike Obinna (Vanderbilt). Jenkins is averaging a team-high 19.8 points per game while Obinna is averaging 18.2. Talented sophomore big man Qudus Wahab is enjoying a breakout season while averaging 15 points per game forming a formidable post tandem with Obinna on both ends of the floor.

#5 MIDDLEBURG ACADEMY @ #4 NATIONAL CHRISTIAN, 7 PM

In a remix of last year’s title matchup, Middleburg (13-15, 2-8) travels to face defending champion NCA (19-10, 5-5).

NCA swept the regular-season series but both games were close - the Eagles won 48-45 on the road February 11 and 64-60 at home February 25. Tyler Foster (24 points) and Shyheim Gilkerson (20) were the only Dragons to score in double figures in that game; Middleburg needs someone else to contribute on that end as well.

National Christian has been led this year by senior wing and DMVelite 80 Most Valuable Player Terence Lewis at 18.4 points per game. Guards Jimmy Kpadeh, Fahmmi Mamo, Malik Kennedy and Lawrence Thompson combine with frontcourt standouts JR Connell, Ed Oliver-Hampton and Tyler Williams to round out a talented group aiming for a championship repeat.

#2 RIVERDALE BAPTIST 28-8 (6-4)

Riverdale will host the Capitol Christian/Virginia Academy winner on Friday at 7 pm. The Crusaders swept CCA and split with Virginia Academy, most recently dropping a 67-66 road meeting back on February 4.

The Crusaders have been led by Monmouth-bound senior guard Deion Hammond (16.8 points per game), electric junior point guard Donovann Toately (10.9 ppg) and Gannon University-bound senior forward Cyril Ogbuagu (10.2 ppg). Tyrese Samuel, Ayan Teel, David McCullough and Wayne Briscoe have all emerged as key contributors this season.

#1 ROCK CREEK CHRISTIAN 25-3 (10-0)

The Eagles ran through league competition for a perfect 10-0 regular season mark, and will host the winner of Middleburg and National Christian Friday at 7 pm.

Rock Creek opened the season with 20 straight wins before falling to unbeaten Wise in the DMV Classic at Parkdale on February 11, and had since only lost to national power Oak Hill Academy before Monday’s setback against Riverdale.

Sophomore guard Sherif Kenney (13.9 points), junior forward Jermaine Harris (13.5) and senior guards Josh Page (10 ppg) and Jon Preston (9.2) lead a Rock Creek group stocked with size and athleticism at every position. Earl Timberlake, Will Vedder and Ty’Darius Harris all have the ability to impact games.