WOODSTOCK -- The National Prep Championship is only weeks away, and Massanutten Military Academy postgraduate boys basketball coach Chad Myers likes where his Colonels sit as the end of their regular season draws near.
Led by a core of double-digit scorers in point guard Dereon Seabron (a North Carolina State commit averaging 17.7 points per game), Virginia Commonwealth University signee Jarren McAllister (17.2 ppg), Brandon Suggs (12.8 ppg) and 6-foot-10 big man Mahamadou Diawara (10.6 ppg, 7.7 rebounds), MMA is 26-3 heading into its final five games of the season.
The Colonels, ranked seventh in the latest Prep Circuit Postgrad Power 10 released last Friday, have won 10 straight -- the last six by an average of 22.2 points per contest -- since falling to Mount Zion Prep (Maryland) during the Jan. 18 stop at Fork Union Military Academy on the Virginia military school circuit.
That streak has included a 108-100 neutral-site win over rival Hargrave Military Academy (ranked fifth by Prep Circuit) on Jan. 27, a two-game sweep over Fork Union, and an 84-78 win over Beckley Prep (West Virginia) on Jan. 19.
Since suffering two early season losses in November to a pair of nationally ranked teams in The Skill Factory and Woodstock Academy (Connecticut), MMA is 20-1.
“I feel like we’re playing really well right now,” Myers said on Monday, hours before his team departed on a four-game road trip that includes a game Tuesday in North Carolina against Catawba College’s JV team and ends with three games at the Beach Blast tournament at IMG Academy in Florida this weekend. “We’ve had a lot of guys contribute. I think even on Saturday (a 90-75 win over Combine Academy) we had five or six guys in double-figures. That’s kind of one thing going down the stretch, obviously Seabron, McAllister and Suggs have had a lot of big nights, and Mo (Diawara). We’ve had a lot of balance between those four, five, six guys. Going into the national tournament last year we relied so much on (former Colonels Rasir Bolton, now at Penn State, and Tyrese Martin, now playing for Rhode Island), who had to put up big numbers, and I think we’re in a better spot right now than we were last year. Obviously it doesn’t matter until we get there, we’ve gotta win games.”
MMA still has to earn one of the 12 spots at the invitation-only National Prep Championship that unofficially crowns the postgrad national champ each March, but the odds are good that the Colonels will make their fifth appearance in five non-consecutive seasons under Myers.
The Colonels have yet to win a game once they get to the NPC, however, and Myers said the intent of this weekend’s trip to IMG is to prepare them for the grind of playing three games in three days, something they’ll need to do if they make a run in the national tournament.
MMA is scheduled to play DME Sports Academy Blue and Victory Rock Prep on Friday and Saturday before closing with a game against IMG Academy Postgrad National on Sunday.
“I kind of told our guys this is like our conference tournament, even though we’re not really in a conference,” said Myers, whose team closes the regular season with a home game against Bristol Prep on Feb. 28. “… We need to try to find a way to prepare for three straight days and play three different teams and win three games against good competition, and kind of lead us into the national tournament. We’ll play here against Bristol Prep right before we go but I’m hoping that kind of helps propel us into getting our minds set on going to a tournament, trying to win three games and win a tournament before we go (to the National Prep Championship).”
While Myers said this season’s MMA team doesn’t shoot as well as the one that went 32-4 in 2017-18, he added that the Colonels are better defensively, have a stronger interior presence on both ends of the court, and are finding ways to get to the free-throw line more frequently.
The Colonels are also the healthiest an MMA squad has been this late in the season in the past three years, Myers noted.
To succeed in the National Prep Championship, should they make it that far, Myers said the Colonels will need to continue to play solid defense and rebound.
“If you can play defense and you can rebound the ball, you’ve got a chance if the offense comes and goes,” Myers said. “Even if you look at every team that wins the NCAA tournament, they have one off night offensively but they find a way to guard guys and rebound and find a way to win those close games. We’ve been really good at that this year, but I think it’s just consistently for 40 minutes we’ve gotta be able to do it and that’s what we’re kind of on them all the time about -- rotations, guarding the ball, rebounding, finishing plays.”