Flying High

Birds of a Feather: Tompkins’ Bieniemy and Washington are VYPE Co-MVPs

Tompkins senior CJ Washington Vype

While Tompkins’ CJ Washington and Jamal Bieniemy aren’t biological twins, they have a basketball telepathy that dates back to the fourth grade.

The VYPE co-MVPs have been backcourt mates since playing for the RYTES Warriors in elementary school, where they were coached by teammate Eden Holt’s dad, Lamar Holt.

From Morton Ranch Junior High, the pair transferred to Tompkins to lay the foundation for a new program.

The past four years, the pair has been the cornerstone of the Tompkins Falcons, which found themselves on the state’s biggest stage. They took the five-year-old school on a ride they never could have imagined.

But they did.

“We’ve been dreaming about this since we were little kids,” CJ Washington said of reaching the state finals. “This journey has really been special for us.”

Bieniemy has signed with Oklahoma, while Washington will sign after the season.

Washington and Bieniemy both averaged 16 points per game on the season as the best backcourt in the city.

Having that near-decade of history helped, knowing where each other were on the court and knowing who would take over a game and when.

“It will be weird after we play our final game,” Bieniemy said. “That’s why we’ve been going so hard. We don’t want it to end. I know we will go our separate ways in college, but I know when we are home we will get some runs in together. We love to push each other.”

Entering the ninth grade, Washington was ranked by some recruiting services as the No. 1 player in the state. That can get in your head sometimes. Washington’s game fluctuated, but he has put in together as a senior.

“I had to play these guys on varsity as freshman,” coach Bobby Sanders said. “They didn’t really have any older guys to show them how to work, so we had some growing pains.

“Entering this year, CJ was on a mission. He just got in great shape. We trained hard in the preseason running miles. I mean a lot of miles. Once he was in shape, no one can stop him getting to the goal. He’s had a transformation.”

“I was just in my head the past few years,” Washington said. “Coach kept reminding me that I was unstoppable, and I just kept that in my head this season.”

Bieniemy’s game also added a few wrinkles as a senior.

“He worked so hard on his shot and it’s been a game-changer,” Sanders said. “With that came great confidence. As a freshman, he would have never taken that three-pointer to win the state semifinal. We were in the huddle and he said, ‘I’m gonna knock this down coach.’ I thought, okay.”

While the MVP is an individual award that is usually given to the best player on the best team, this year is different.

You can’t mention one without the other when it comes to Bieniemy and Washington.

It’s been like that for nearly a decade.

This article appears in the March Issue of VYPE Magazine. Pick up your copy at any one of our locations next week! 


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Here's what Davante Adams' big day against the Texans really proved

Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images

Seven weeks into the season, Bradley Roby has been the sole bright spot playing for a secondary that has been subpar at best. He entered Week 7 against the Green Bay Packers trailing only Eric Murray for the most tackles as a defensive back, while owning the Houston Texans' only interception of the season.

During his media availability on Thursday, Roby spoke about having the Texans' confidence to trust him as the primary defender shadowing the opposing team's best receiver.

And with Davante Adams coming to NRG Stadium with Aaron Rodgers on Sunday, Roby had an opportunity to illustrate why Houston's coaching staff have so much faith in him.

Three plays into the game, Roby sustained a knee injury that sidelined him the rest of the afternoon. In his absence, the Texans felt his importance competing with a depleted secondary.

Adams would go on to have a career day against the Texans. He recorded a career-best 196 receiving yards on 13-of-18 targets and two touchdowns — as the Packers handed the Texans a 35-20 loss on Sunday.

Had the Fort Worth native avoided the injury, would it have resulted in a victory for the Texans? Perhaps not. It is always hard for a team to come away victorious after going scoreless during the first half, but Roby would have limited the destruction caused by Adams. Rogers completed four deep passes where he recorded 28 or more yards, with Adams being the recipient of three.

Not only did Houston have to deal with the effects of not having their best corner shadow one of the league's premier receivers, but the team was not prepared to battle without Roby, according to Michael Thomas following the loss.

"When you lose your starting corner like that, it's going to affect [the team]," Thomas said. "Anytime you have to make adjustments. If you're not prepared, and you don't have the right mindset, then you're probably not going to get the right results you want. Maybe we could have done it a little sooner, but you definitely miss a guy like Roby. You plan on having your number one guy go against their number one guy all the time."

Roby's premature exit left the Texans with a gaping void to slowdown Rodgers and the Packers without two of their projected starting corners. Gareon Conley — who revived his career during the second half of last season — has yet to play a single snap for Houston in 2020 as he continues to recover from offseason ankle surgery.

Their lackluster performance on Sunday showcased the lack of depth and talent the Texans have in the secondary. And with the trade deadline a week away, it may be in the Texans' best interest to invest in a young defensive back they can build around in the future — especially considering the timetable on Conley's return remains unknown.

Interim head coach Romeo Crennel said on Monday that the team is hoping Roby's injury is short-term and hopes to have their top corner make his return following the bye.

At 1-6 on the year, all the Texans have left to play for is pride as they close out the remaining nine games of the season, and the best way is to prevent another receiver from recording nearly 200 yards in a single game.

For this vulnerable secondary, it is a feat easier said than done. And with the talents of Jarvis Landry, T.Y. Hilton, and A.J. Brown remaining on the schedule, it is only best for Roby to make his return to the field sooner rather than later.

"I take pride in it. It's an opportunity that not a lot of guys get throughout the league, and I'm thankful for that. Just to be able to go against the best and try my best for the team and see how I match up. I'm very thankful for that." — Roby.

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