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Liberty tops JF to nab second place in Seminole

By Mike Forster


That's how you wrap up a regular season.  At least, that's how you do it if you happen to be a Liberty Minuteman hoopster.

The M-Men put an exclamation point on a fine season, taking care of Jefferson Forest, 55-45, in workmanlike fashion to close out the regular season with a Seminole District mark of 9-3.

That's not small potatoes, considering the Minutemen opened  Seminole play by being pulverized by E.C. Glass, 70-47, in their second district game.  They then reeled off a 1-6 streak, which had many throwing in the towel on this crew.

Many, but not all.  The M-Men have proceeded to go 8-2 since that point.  The win over Jefferson Forest showcased the Liberty team of late:  one that is aggressive, quick and tough.

And it came over a JF team that is aggressive, quick and tough in its own right.

Jefferson Forest Head Coach Paul Redgate wasn't displeased by what he saw on the court.  "I thought both teams played extremely hard," he assessed.  "For the most part, we matched their intensity."

If Redgate had any complaint with his charges, it was about their shooting.  Or, rather, it was about their shot selection.  "Tough shots are tough to hit," he noted.

As usual, Tyler Lucy led the way for the Cavs.  The senior with the superb shot put up 24 points, the only player in double figures for the Cavs, as well as the game's leading scorer.

But Liberty's Chris Sharrett was hot on Lucy's trail.  Sharp-shooting Sharrett nailed three treys en route to scoring 22 points.

Even more impressive was the slender Sharrett muscling his way to 11 rebounds.

Speaking of muscle, Jamaal Preston was a force in the paint, throwing his weight around while picking up 10 points.

The other standout for Liberty was Rucker Shipp, who set sail through the Jefferson Forest offense on his way to five thefts.

"The kids came with a lot of energy," said Liberty Head Coach Jeff Monroe.  "The last two games (including a loss to Heritage), we'd been flat, so we knew we had to get back to where we had been."

Liberty needed all of the energy the Minutemen gym seemed to hold following Senior Night festivities.  The Minutemen had built up a 10-point lead at the end of the third quarter on the strength of some nifty free-throw shooting by Sharrett and a booming trey from Shipp.

But JF wasn't ready to pack it in.  Lucy drove the paint before converting a nifty feed from Kendall Randolph.  Lucy then hit a 12 footer to close the gap to four.

Monroe called a timeout to settle down his charges.  Preston responded with a putback and Raheem Anthony nailed an eight footer to right Liberty's ship.

As a result of that loss to Heritage, Liberty found itself in a tie with the Pioneers for second place in the district.

Final Seminole standings

E.C. Glass       11 - 1     16 - 4

Heritage            9 - 3     13 - 7

Liberty              9 - 3   11 - 10

Brookville         5 - 7     8 - 12

Jeff Forest         4 - 8     8 - 12

Rustburg            3 - 9    6 - 14

Amherst Co      1 - 11    1 - 15


The Seminole District tournament is going on this week.  With the advent of the new VHSL structure, however, the tournament is only good for bragging rights and the trophy that comes with a championship.

Coach Monroe, however, doesn't view it that way.  "If we're playing in the Seminole District tourney, we want to win it," he said.  

"We're playing as good as anybody," he added, noting that the tournament can serve as a means to boost a team's momentum.

No matter what happens in the district tourney, Liberty knows it will open Conference 30 play as the #2 seed and will face Brookville.

Of the five-team conference (Brookville, Heritage, Liberty, Rustburg, Tunstall), two will advance to Regional play.

Jefferson Forest will head to Conference 24 play.  With such high-flying teams as William Fleming, E.C. Glass and GW-Danville making up that conference (as well as Salem, Carroll County, Bassett and Pulaski County), JF will doubtlessly be on the road to open conference play.

The Cavs will have to win at least two conference games to earn a ticket to the 4A-North regional festivities.


Running out of chances

Staunton River's hopes of picking up a win in Blue Ridge play seem fairly well dashed.

As we go to press (Tuesday), the Eagles were set to play district co-leader Lord Botetourt.  On Thursday, the Eagles should wrap up their regular season in a make up game with Alleghany.  Both games were slated to be played at Staunton River.

The Eagles hold a dismal mark of 0-10 in the district.

Two more tallies were added to the loss column last week when the team absorbed defeats at the hands of district co-leader William Byrd (76-48) and Rockbridge (60-46).

In the Byrd game, Ramir Hunt led the Eagles with 16 points.  Adam Wooldrige added 11 on the strength of a trio of treys.

Against Rockbridge, the highlights were supplied by Hunt, once again.  The senior led the Eagles with 17 points.  Junior Drew Phillips contributed 13.

Even if River were to win its last two games, the Eagles will be seeded last in the Conference 31 playoff bracket, assuring themselves of a road trip to open things.

That tournament will open play on Tuesday, Feb. 18.

  Conference 31 is made up of the Blue Ridge District, less Fleming plus Magna Vista.