Skyline’s Zack Diggs drives inside past Lake Taylor’s Triston Skipwith during the Class 3 state quarterfinals. Diggs averaged 17.3 points per game, and an area-best 43.2% from 3-point range this season.

FRONT ROYAL — Zack Diggs went out with his best season yet.

The Skyline senior boys basketball player put together an impressive season in leading the team to new heights this year.

“I think I did pretty good,” Diggs said. “I stepped up more from last year. We lost some solid pieces. So I knew we had to step up. But I had some help. Two other of my best friends they helped me out a lot. So it wasn’t just me.”

Diggs, The Northern Virginia Daily’s 2022-23 Boys Basketball Player of the Year, led the Hawks to a 26-1 record and the program’s first-ever state semifinal appearance.

“I think it was a great season for us,” Diggs said. “We didn’t end up with the final goal, but we can’t not be proud of ourselves. We went 26-1. What else can you ask for for a senior year?”

One of the biggest highlights of the season for Diggs was scoring his 1,000th point. Diggs scored his 1,000th point on Jan. 17 in a 70-46 victory over William Monroe. Diggs was the first boys basketball player to reach the milestone in Skyline program history.

“Looking back on that feels great,” Diggs said. “It’s history. I was the first one to ever do it. So hopefully some other people can do it, but being the first person feels great.”

Diggs said his favorite game was the Hawks’ 66-64 win over Lake Taylor in the Class 3 state semifinals.

“We were down going into halftime,” Diggs said. “There was a lot of trash talking. But we came out with the win at the end. So that’s all that mattered.”

Diggs said some of his favorite memories from the season came when he wasn’t on the floor. He said he loved watching the bench players get playing time and scoring.

Skyline boys basketball coach Harold Chunn said Diggs was always encouraging the starters to play as hard as they could so they could give the substitutes some playing time as well.

“He had a spectacular season,” Chunn said. “You couldn’t really ask for more than that. Just him being that leader in the locker room, in practice, even on the bus rides. His thing was let’s get these other guys in the game. Starting five went out there and did their thing so they could get those guys in the game. So they could stand on the sidelines and do their thing — be all excited and hype and everything.”

The Hawks had plenty of games where they dominated opponents early and had plenty of time to get the bench players some valuable playing time.

It was one of the biggest differences from last year’s squad to this year’s squad. Diggs said the whole team was focused each game from start to finish.

“We had way more players dedicated this year,” Diggs said. “You get a lot of people dedicated it’s going to be hard to beat. Everybody wanted to win with us. So it made it way easier.”

Diggs said it also helped playing with his fellow seniors, especially two of his best friends — Elijah Cabness and Elias Carter.

“They’ve meant a lot to me,” Diggs said of the duo. “We’ve been playing together since we were probably 7 and 8. So seeing them now feels great. I’ve known them forever, since I was 3 or 4. So playing and ending it with them feels great.”

Diggs had a stellar season for the Hawks. He averaged 17.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.6 steals per game. Diggs shot 52.3% (170-for-325) from the field, an area-best 43.2% (38-for-88) from 3-point range and an area-best 78.6% (66-for-84) from the free-throw line. Diggs finished his career with 1,265 points.

Diggs said he focused in the offseason on improving his 3-point shot and his mid-range jumper and it paid off.

“Adding the 3-point shot to my game opened up a lot of things for me,” Diggs said. “If they’re going to stop me from driving then I’ll shoot, and if I shoot and make it what else are they going to be able to do? If they stop me from shooting I’m going to drive to the paint area. And I know I can make layups all over the place. That opens up my game a lot. ...I improved my mid-range jumper as well. My shooting was obviously what I needed to work on the most. And when I added that to my game, it took me to a whole nother level.”

The Hawks went undefeated in the regular season for the first time in program history. Diggs said it’s a good feeling.

“That’s very special,” Diggs said. “Not losing one game in the regular season is very hard. And us being able to do that with our team, it feels like ‘dang that really just happened.’ It really hasn’t settled yet, that we really did not lose a game in the regular season at all.”

Chunn said Diggs was a great leader of the team, especially for the younger players.

“He really pushed Dwayne Tucker, who’s a sophomore this year,” Chunn said. “He was a little shaky about everything but I think with Zack carrying him under his wing and everything made him actually a better player. And it’s like Zack made everybody around him a better player. We had Andre Ford, who’s a freshman that I brought up. He took Andre under his wing, he even took a couple of the seniors under his wing. With him and Elias (Carter) and Elijah Cabness — those three young men — their leadership really propelled the team this year.”

Diggs said he wants to play basketball in college, but he doesn’t know where yet. Diggs said he’s happy with how his high school career went.

“It was a great four years,” Diggs said. “It was probably the best four years of my life really. Getting this environment and being able to play basketball with my friends for four years, and being able to play at a competitive level all four years, and getting better every year feels good.”

– Contact Tommy Keeler Jr. at tkeeler@nvdaily.com

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