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'Tis the season of giving

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Cavs finally take River after two overtime periods

By Mike Forster

  Although personal correspondence, we've got a pretty good idea of what some local hoops head coaches asked for in their letters to Santa.

Staunton River's Brandon Harrison likely asked for a case of Tums.

Jefferson Forest's Paul Smith must have requested a crate of Rolaids.

The two may also have asked the Jolly Old Elf to expedite those orders, given what transpired on the hardwoods of Staunton River last Thursday night.

The final score stood at Jefferson Forest 68, Staunton River 66.  That mark was established only after a remarkable comeback by the Golden Eagles and a pair of thrilling overtime periods.

It would be fair to state that both teams deserved to win.  It would also be equitable to state that they both deserved to lose.

The Cavs seemed to have things well in hand, breaking open a close game in the fourth quarter.  JF established a ten point lead on the strength of some fine outside shooting by marksmen Tyler Lucy and Sam Price.  After free throw conversions by Kylin Cardwell and Austin Clarke, the Cavs had a ten point lead with 62 seconds remaining in the game.

Staunton River went into desperation mode, calling timeouts, fouling on purpose and launching improbable shots.

It is a strategy with the longest of odds, usually only prolonging the pain.

Were we supposed to think that River, which had scored a grand total of 38 points in the game's first 31 minutes, was going to make up a ten-point gap?

Well, the Eagles did just that.

"My wife told me...she saw Duke do that to Maryland in 2001 (I think)," said River Head Coach Brandon Harris.  She said she couldn't believe she was watching the same thing live."

Nor could anyone in attendance.  Eagle Sam Jennings hit a trey and a pair of free throws.  River big man Cam Holdren was hacked on three consecutive occasions, giving him a trio of three-point play opportunities.

Meanwhile, the Cavs went three-for-eight from the charity stripe.  Still, JF led 51-48 with eight seconds remaining.  That's when Holdren went hard through the paint, was fouled and hit his free throw.  The game was knotted.

The Eagles' hopes should have been dashed when, on the opening tipoff of overtime, Holdren hurt his ankle.

Others stepped up, though.

The game appeared to be JF's, yet again, after Kylin Cardwell hit a long two-pointer to give the Cavs a 58-53 lead.  But Ricky Farris went baseline before Zack Brown launched a game-tying three pointer.

Cardwell hit another trey before River's Farris was hacked with two seconds to play.

The senior coolly nailed both shots to put the game into a second overtime.

The Eagles grabbed their first lead of the game when Madysin Vieira muscled his way through traffic for a bucket and Dustin Yates drove the baseline for two.

That's when JF's Johnston seemed to tire of all the antics.  He took charge at the half-minute mark, driving hard through a phalanx of Eagle would-be defenders to put JF up, 67-66.  He then reigned in a rebound of an errant Eagle shot, was fouled and sank a free throw to ice the win.

Farris's last second bomb bounced off the rim as this marathon finally wound its way down.

Jefferson Forest Head Coach Paul Smith seemed relieved to escape with the win.  "It was a positive that, in spite of continually shooting ourselves in the foot, we were able to muster up a win," said Smith.  "All wins are big wins."

Coming up big for Smith was Johnston, who had 17 points for the evening.  Lucy, who has one of the smoother shots you'll see, added 16.  Caldwell, who can play like a Tasmanian Devil at times, chipped in 12.  Lucy and Caldwell combined for five treys.

For River, Holdren was the big scorer, putting in 21, despite missing the overtime period.  Deshawn Martin had 13 and Jennings had 10.

River, which is 0-5, has now lost three games at the buzzer.

"The only negative from this game was the final score," said Coach Harris.  "We just came up short."