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Brookville completed its stranglehold on first place in the Seminole District. The only question for the Bees, at this point, is whether they will run the District gauntlet in undefeated fashion. The smart money says they will.
Brookville has assured itself of a first round bye in the District tourney and an automatic first round game in the Regional. Liberty, which settled for second place when it lost 83-66 to Brookville, is only assured of a home opener in the Districts, most likely against Staunton River.
The Minutemen bounced back from the Brookville loss by beating up on Amherst on their home hardwoods, 64-46. ?It was a good game for us,? said Head Coach Jeff Monroe. ?Our seniors are stepping it up.?
In particular, Derrick Robinson and Derek Comer played aggressive games, pestering Amherst into numerous turnovers.
Kordero Thompson turned in another workmanlike performance, garnering 8 points. ?He?s steady,? noted Monroe of Thompson. He gets you 8-10 points, 5-7 rebounds and a couple of steals every night.?
Freshman Anthony Reynolds is looking more comfortable on point. Reynolds? growth into that position is key to Monroe?s strategy, in that it frees up Harmon and Stevens (two fine shooters) to kick out to the wings for the open looks.
Liberty?s juniors, Boo Payne (14 points) and Chris Harmon (20) took care of things in the scoring department. Payne was at his most aggressive level. Harmon continues to shine in all areas of his game. Had the Minutemen won the District this season, he?d most likely be the top candidate for the Seminole Player of the Year award.
Honorariums aside, ?It?s time for us now in the stretch,? said Monroe, wishing desperately for another shot at Brookville.
Forest takes River
In a game that featured two teams that match up well with one another, Jefferson Forest edged homestanding Staunton River 54-47.
The two scrappy but undersized teams played poorly in the first half, before coming to life after the intermission and playing the kind of ball one would expect from these two.
Suffice it to say that the first half was full of errant passes, missed opportunities and turnovers galore. Nobody wants to relive that period of time.
The second half was more in line with what these teams are capable of doing. Staunton River?s Mike Lynch got into a three-point competition with Forest?s Bobby Shelton, Dylan Augenreich and Tyler Brown. When the dust settled the game had changed from a snoozer into a nail-biting affair, with the Cavs holding a three-point lead.
That edge was quickly erased, as Lynch and Geary Cunningham nailed consecutive bombs to put the Eagles ahead.
Ted Price hit four consecutive free throws to tie the game. With the game still even and with three minutes to go, Staunton River post man James Bell went down with a leg injury.
As much pain as the loss of Bell was for the Eagles, Brown caused more as he made two steals that he converted into five points, enough to ice the game for the Cavs.
Cav Head Coach Paul Smith wasn?t thrilled by his team?s performance. ?We won and that?s about it,? he said, citing a lack of effort and concentration.
Smith was more complimentary of the Eagles. ?I have to give their kids credit,? he stated. ?They play with a lot of effort and intensity.?
Eagle Head coach Chris Carr wasn?t in the mood for such kudos. ?Hustle is great,? he said. ?Understanding is something else. Our understanding and knowledge are not there yet.?
The crowd was not a factor. The game was a make-up, due to the originally scheduled contest being snowed out earlier in the season. It also was in direct competition for fans with the Lady Eagles, who were playing Brookville with a shot at first place.
In other action
Following its win over Staunton River, Forest took a couple shots to the chops, dropping games to Rustburg (43-23) and to Heritage (48-24). The losses put the Cavs out of contention for third place (Rustburg takes that).
The Cavs are in the catbird?s seat for fourth place, and the final home berth for the playoffs. However, their likely opponent looks to be that same Heritage team that dismantled them.
Ted Price led Forest?s scoring in both games with 9 against Rustburg and 8 against Heritage.
After their loss to Forest, Staunton River was picked clean by top dog Brookville, 57-31. There were two bright spots from this game: the Eagles played to a 10-all draw in the first quarter and Al Dillon kicked in 11 points.
This Friday night, Forest takes another crack at Liberty on the Minutemen court. This is Liberty?s final game of the regular season. Also on Friday, Staunton River hosts Rustburg.
On Tuesday, Staunton River heads to Forest for the Cavs? final game of the regular season. Staunton River wraps up on Thursday, Feb. 14 with a Valentine?s Day matchup with visiting Byrd.