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Hoopsters on their way

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River edges Cavs, Minutemen take Salem in early contests

By Mike Forster

It was what you’d expect from some early-season basketball games.

Liberty picked up its first victory of the season, holding off a bunch from Salem.  The homestanding Minutemen won, 67-63.

Staunton River, meanwhile, earned its second win of the young season, edging Jefferson Forest, 59-53.

Neither game is going to be nominated for any beauty competitions.

In this sport, though, beauty is developed by playing the games.  So, the juggernaut continues.

After opening the season with an easy (and expected) win over Timberlake Christian, River saw in Forest a golden opportunity for a quality win. After dropping its opener to Appomattox, Forest saw in River the best opportunity to get back on track.

Alas, only one could prevail.  And that was River.

Paced by Chris Eggleston’s 17 points and Cam Holdren’s 11 rebounds, the Eagles scrapped their way to a 59-53 win over their county rivals.

“That was a good win for us,” said River Head Coach Brandon Harris.  “It’s big for our program to get off to a good start and build momentum going into the (Blue Ridge) district games in January.”

Forest was paced by Jake Johnston’s 17 points.  Marcus Jones chipped in 13.

River got timely help from Rico Turner, who nailed a pair of timely three-pointers to help thwart a JF rally.

Freshman point guard DeShawn Martin didn’t post big stats (five points), but had a superb game.

He showed excellent floor leadership and kept things cool when they threatened to boil over.

In addition to his gaudy stats, Johnston showed a fierce grittiness for the Cavs.  He had a fine effort.

Both teams showed a marked need to improve in the areas of ball handling, free throw shooting and playing to its desired tempo.  But, again, those are things you’d expect in the early going of a season.

This one had a lot of bodies flying, but had an equal number of errant passes.

 

M-Men in action

Meanwhile, Liberty got its first taste of Seminole play, and came away with a big win, 59-52, over Amherst.

The game went into overtime, as the Lancers overcame a nine-point deficit in the fourth quarter.

Minuteman Jerry Thompson’s free throw in the waning seconds prevented a Liberty loss in front of a weather-impaired home crowd.

The Minutemen seemed refreshed by the reprieve.

Senior Gaitlin Wright opened the extra stanza by pegging a trey and picking up another basket in the first minute.

From there, it was all Liberty, as the M-Men outscored Amherst 17-10 down the final stretch.

Liberty gave up a lot of height to the Lancers, who seemed to own the paint, at times.

Liberty’s free throw shooting, at 9-for-24, also didn’t help the team’s chances.

No, this one was won on defense and heart, neither of which will show up in the game’s box score.

Liberty also showed a lot of heart and resilience in staving off a tough crew from Salem. The Minutemen dodged that bullet, 67-63, after squandering a 10-point lead.

At this point, the M-Men are still finding their sea legs.  Still, they’re putting up the wins.

“Our football players are still trying to get into basketball shape,” said Coach Jeff Monroe.  “So, things have been a little slow from the start.”

Nonetheless, some of the non-footballers, particularly Wright and Darius McCoy have really stepped up things.

They were huge in the Salem win.  “Anytime you can beat a Salem team is big,” noted Monroe.  “They have a lot of tradition, like us.”