Lake Taylor ends James Monroe’s postseason run

by | Mar 1, 2024 | ALLFFP, Fredericksburg, High school sports, Schools & Education, Sports

As the James Monroe High School boys basketball team walked into Echols Hall at Norfolk State University Friday, the players and coaches saw a large portrait of former Yellow Jackets’ standout Gene Cunningham. 

Cunningham was a member of JM’s 1972 Group AA state championship team – the last time the Yellow Jackets reached a state title game – before going on to star at Norfolk State. 

Unfortunately for the Yellow Jackets, they couldn’t duplicate the success of Cunningham and his ‘72 teammates. 

James Monroe saw its memorable season end in the Class 3 state quarterfinals with a 77-46 defeat to Norfolk powerhouse Lake Taylor. 

The Titans (24-1) will face Northside next Friday in the state championship game at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Siegel Center. Northside defeated Tunstall 66-59 in the other Class 3 semifinal. 

James Monroe (23-6) enjoyed one of its best seasons in recent memory. The Yellow Jackets advanced to the state tournament for the first time since 2012. They won the Battlefield District tournament title for the first time in that span and their first regional championship in 38 years when they knocked off Meridian 63-56 for the Region 3B title. 

However, their potent four-guard lineup struggled against Lake Taylor’s massive size. Titans’ 6-foot-7 center Elijah Washington recorded 19 points and 13 rebounds in the first half alone. He finished with a game-high 28 points. 

The Yellow Jackets were paced by freshman guard Makel Minor’s 25 points. Minor scored JM’s first 15 points of the game. A second-quarter free throw gave Minor the eight points he needed to surpass former East Rockingham star Tyler Nickel’s Virginia High School League freshman scoring record (662 points). Minor finished the season with 680 points. 

Junior guard Michael Edwards added 12 points for the Yellow Jackets, who trailed 22-6 after the first quarter and 49-21 at halftime. 

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