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They say that timing is everything.
Turns out the timing of time-outs is pretty darn important, too.
Staunton River called a time-out about half a second too quickly, nullifying a game-tying shot.
As a result, Jefferson Forest hung on for a 45-42 win, its first of the season.
The Cav victory avenged last week’s win by River in a notably sloppier affair.
The latest game had a slower tempo to it. As a result, it was a more controlled affair.
In fact, it seemed downright sleepy, at times. JF opened up a 41-30 lead when Marcus Jones nailed a 12-foot jumper following a 90-second pass around by the Cavs. With four minutes remaining, it seemed as though it was time to head home before the snows hit.
That’s when things heated up.
Golden Eagle Ricky Farris nabbed a steal and dished it to Rodney Kasey, who took the hack and converted the two free throws he was awarded.
Jarodd Nichols punched in a putback to cut the lead to seven.
With a steady stream of JF players hitting clangers at the free throw stripe, the Eagles saw their chances improving steadily.
Chris Eggleston drove up the gut to cut the lead to five.
Eggleston then hit a 14 footer from the baseline to make it 41-38.
Jason Stafford and Dakota Hall each hit a free throw to extend the lead to five.
With 40 seconds to go, though, point guard DeShawn Martin went end-to-end for the easy layup to bring the Eagles within three.
Cav Taylor Watson pegged both of his free throws, though, to reestablish the margin.
Wouldn’t you know it? Martin repeated his end-to-end run to make it a three-point game, with 24 ticks left.
Forest faltered, again, at the free throw line, and River had the ball with 20 seconds remaining: a virtual lifetime in basketball.
After weaving the ball among its players, Eagle Head Coach Brandon Harris signaled for a time-out.
The ref shook him off, telling Harris he was out of time-outs.
Harris vehemently disagreed with the zebra, as the ball fell to Rico Turner.
The ref signalled T.O, just before Turner launched one from just outside the three-point arc.
His shot found nothing but net, but it was as meaningless as any pregame shot he’s ever taken.
With 4.5 seconds remaining, River ran a play designed to get the ball to team leader Chris Eggleston.
He was hounded, however, by Hall. Eggleston was forced to take an off-balance stab from three-point land.
As the buzzer sounded, the ball fell away harmlessly.
Forest had its first win of the young season and River had a chance to reflect.
Certainly, this game was a much better one than the last time these two played, which was only last week.
“I felt we did a much better job of getting the ball inside, and were able to find better shots,” said JF Head Coach Paul Smith, of the difference between the two games.
In particular, center Jason Stafford’s inside play was significantly stronger in this one. The big guy (6’6”) put up nine well-earned points.
Teammate Marcus Jones led all scorers, with 13 points.
River was paced by Chris Eggleston’s 10 points, six of which came via the trey.
Of course, the three-pointer the Eagles would love to have back was Turner’s, the one nullified by the T.O.
Still, the Eagle offense appears to be struggling at times. The River lads have yet to reach that level of comfort that will rid them of their hesitancy and herky-jerky look.
That will come with time.
As will the Cav free throwing that got JF into trouble in this one.
Twelve-for-25 is how JF shot from the free throw stripe in this one.
That metric is very unlike JF teams.
“They will just have to grow into this,” said Smith, of his team’s need to garner game-experience free throw shooting and the difficulty in trying to simulate game-situation pressure.
No doubt. JF is always noted for its proficiency from the charity stripe.
We suspect that problem won’t be a long-term one.
Jeff Forest played at Rustburg Monday night, after press time for this Christmas edition of the Bedford Bulletin.
The Cavs will head to the Appomattox Tournament on Dec. 27 and Dec. 28.
River travelled to Tunstall this past Monday. It next plays at James River on Dec. 30.