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Delayed gratification

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Third time's a charm as JF tops Minutemen

By Mike Forster

  The third time was the charm.

After being delayed twice by Old Man Winter, Liberty finally got to host Jefferson Forest in boys basketball on Monday night.

The Cavs must have made the most of the extra time.  When they rolled out of the Liberty High School gym, they were the owners of an impressive 52-47 win.

The game was originally scheduled to be played on Friday evening.  Snows that day, however, caused Bedford County schools to shut down early and for all extracurricular activities to be canceled.

The teams tried again on Saturday, but the icy grip that encompassed the region made that option untenable.

So, they played Monday night in front of a sparse, but appreciative crowd.

Coming into this contest, Liberty was the only Seminole team JF had beaten in its first trip through the district.  Since that 75-69 win, the Cavs have endured a 1-8 run, including play in the Buckingham Tournament over Christmas.  That run also pushed them to the bottom of the Seminole heap, at 1-7. 

Compounding the Cav difficulties was the loss of two of its marquee players:  Kylin Cardwell and Jake Johnston are no longer on the team for various reasons.

"We're missing a few players, but we play solid defense," said JF's Sam Pice.  "We can stop them when we need to."

Well, JF showed chameleon-like abilities against Liberty.  Once an offensive dynamo with questionable defense, this latest incarnation of the Cavs has all the defensive stinginess of Scrooge McDuck.

Players who had a bit role in the past are now answering the call to step up in a big way.  Others, who mostly watched from the bench, are delivering critical minutes and key plays.

Such was the situation on Monday night.  Instead of one player trying to carry the team on his shoulders, the Cavs had a more evenly-spread look to their game.

They came out of the gate like their hair was on fire.  Six different players scored in the first quarter.  Price and Jack Turner each hit big treys as the Cavs raced out to a 9-4 lead.

During the second quarter, that Cav defense positively smothered the M-Men, causing numerous turnovers.  JF went on a 9-2 run to open the second quarter.  That gave the Cavs a 24-12 lead en route to an 11 point edge at halftime.

We're not sure what was said at halftime, but we're fairly certain Head Coach Jeff Monroe will be springing for some paint to cover over what was blistered during his chat with the lads.  The M-Men responded in the opening minutes of the second half.  In particular, Austin Porter played spectacularly, nabbing a pair of steals, which he converted into hoops, then going baseline for another score.  Rucker Shipp then drove the gut to tie the game at 31, apiece.

Ryan Hensley fed Hunter Taylor beautifully to give Liberty its first lead of the game, with a few seconds remaining in the quarter.

That's all Price would need to re-set things the Cavs' way.  Price hit a 16-foot jumper at the buzzer to give his crew back the lead, at 34-33.

Price then opened the fourth quarter with a three-point bomb to take much of the wind from the Liberty sails.

Much, but not all.  Hensley's hard drive through the lane made it a one-point game, with four minutes to play.

But Zach Clinton hit a pair of free throws and Turner hit another trey to keep the Cavs ahead.  Then Hunter McConville drove the stake through the Minutemen's heart, calmly delivering four straight free throws in the waning minutes.

"For us to get a win on Liberty's home court says a lot about our kids," said JF Head Coach Paul Smith.

"They had players who stepped up," noted Coach Monroe.  "We're not making the plays we need to make."

Price led all scorers, putting up a dozen.  McConville added 11.  Liberty was paced by Porter's nine and Hensley's eight for the evening.

 

Easy win for Cavs

It appears that Jefferson Forest will pick up an additional win without breaking a sweat.

The Cavs appear poised to pick up a victory from Amherst.

Seems that there was an eligibility problem with one of the Lancer players which Amherst Athletic Director Robert Curd discovered after the Lancers had beaten Jeff Forest, 66-65, on Jan. 3.

Curd unearthed the problem when grades were posted on Jan. 4.  The VHSL considers the semester to end on Dec. 19, so the player in question was technically ineligible.

Curd, Amherst's first-year AD, notified all interested parties.

The win will be posted to JF's record at the conclusion of the season, when playoff positioning is calculated.  According to Curd, the JF game is the only district game that will be impacted.