RICHMOND, Va. -- The John Marshall High School boys' basketball team is packing high school gyms across Central Virginia.
As one of the nation's top-ranked high school basketball teams, the Justices are one of the hottest tickets in town.
"I've had people reach out to me that I haven't heard from in 20 years that I went to high school with asking hey, can you get me into the game? Can we get some tickets?" Deep Run High School athletic director Michael Kidd said about the Justices' recent game against his Wildcats.
John Marshall won the game by 50 points.
In fact, the undefeated Justices (21-0) have won most games this season by double digits.
"To see the appreciation, not just for our players, but for the opposing team's players to come up and take pictures, do autographs after the game, has been truly amazing," John Marshall head coach Ty White said about his team's success.
While the final scores might indicate a level of ease, White said his team has a knack for making things look much easier than they really are.
"It's not easy if you know the man hours they put in the gym," White said. "They're in the gym committed at six in the morning getting shots up. We practice again in the evening, study hall. It's a mean regiment they follow daily."
"We practice so hard five days a week," senior Dennis Parker Jr. said. "I think our practices are actually harder than our games."
This season, the Justices have beaten teams from as far away as Florida and Georgia.
Keeping their focus hasn't been an issue because the players hold themselves more accountable than the coaches might.
"They actually came up with those goals. So it's easy to hold them accountable to what they said they wanted to do, not what we said as a coaching staff," White said.
"We've got a chip on our shoulder," Parker added. "Even when those [number one in the nation] rankings came out, we didn't let our guard down. This is such a great team, we just love to compete."
The John Marshall Justices represent a neighborhood that doesn't always get favorable press.
Northside Richmond can, at times, like many other urban neighborhoods across the nation, have its share of crime-related issues. But this team has shown resiliency and positivity that the entire city can embrace.
"It just makes my heart warm," Parker said. "Growing up, you hear so many bad things that happen around the Northside area on the streets or even in a school. Just having this built-up foundation makes me proud to be a part of it. It's crazy for us to be where we're at right now, so I take pride in all of that."
Coach White said his team of teenagers might be busy working on another state title to fully understand what they're accomplishing and what it might mean to the community.
"I don't know if they truly understand what's going on right now," White said. "I do know they come to work and come to practice every day ready to work and compete."
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