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Charlottesville Pulls It Off
Charlottesville pulls it off
The last two weeks for the Charlottesville basketball team have been nothing short of insane. The Black Knights regular season finale against Monticello sent the fourth seeded defending Jefferson District tournament champs into the postseason with their backs against the wall.
It was win or go home against Louisa, Fluvanna County and then Western Albemare in Friday's championship game. Both schools had to have this one to advance on to the Region II finals. It was do-or-die for everyone.
Charlottesville owned the glass, played its best defense of the year and knocked down its free throws from start to finish. What seemed so unlikely two weeks ago became fact on Friday night as the Black Knights held off the Warriors for a 59-46 win.
“Eight of their 14 points in the first half came from the line so I couldn’t be happeir with the defensive effort,” said Charlottesville coach Mitch Minor. “This has been about community support. We’ve been brought together as a high school. Ever since the Monticello game it’s been about the Charlottesville family. I’m so happy about the adminstration, the staff, the students – all of them have come out to support us. That’s made us a closer team.”
The Black Knights trailed only in the first quarter. A 13-1 run to close that frame and start the second behind the play of Deshaun Blakey and Daquan Jones took Charlottesville from down three to up nine. In the second quarter Minor’s team’s defense held the Warriors to only free throws and went into the break with a 12-point advantage as for the second straight game, guard Jamar Pierre-Lewis came of the bench to play point guard, open up the floor for the rest of his teammates to shoot and create turnovers on the defensive end.
“We played defense and shut it down,” Blakey said. “This is the best feeling ever. I can’t even explain it right now. We pressured, we passed the ball for easy scores. It was as easy as that.”
It wasn’t until early in the fourth quarter that Western was able to make a move to make it a tight contest again. The Warriors opened up the first 90 seconds of the last quarter on a run behind Austin Ellis, Ben Turner and Will Donnelly to make it a 6-point game for the first time since the first quarter. But the last six and a half minutes Charlottesville worked down the clock, hit all but two of its free throws to finish at 80 percent from the line, holding Western at bay to win comfortably.
“We got back within striking distance there a few times, and I thought we played much harder in the second half, way better than the first,” said Warriors coach Darren Maynard. “But there in the fourth we had some missed box-out assignments and they got stick backs. You can’t give those away but I’m so proud the way this team fought hard.”
Blakely had a huge game in the paint as he had 13 points and 12 rebounds. Scott tied Blakely for a team 13 points and hit seven of his eight free throws.
“You know usually I don’t take my time like I did on those free throws, but they were so clutch I had to,” Scott said. “We’ve found out now that mentally, nobody can beat us now. If we play defense I don’t think we can be beat. We’re an athletic team. Right now though, we’re just happy.”
Lewis, who would have been considered an unlikely hero just a few contests ago, came up with a second straight performance where his teammates carried him off the court.
“We’ve come together as a family, everyone has everyone’s back,” Pierre-Lewis said. “I haven’t shot the ball a lot this season so I had to come (into the tournament) and support my team some way. That meant playing defense and penetrating gaps and hitting the open man.”
The junior had seven points, four assists and three steals. Jones has eight points.
For Western, Turner finished with a game high 18 points to go with his 10 rebounds. Ellis added eight points as did Donnelly. Parker Morris had six points on a pair of 3-pointers.
While the Black Knights picked up an automatic bid for the Region II tournament, the Warriors at 16-9 finished just on the outs in the standings as Monticello -- the team Western split the regular season with and knocked out of the tournament in the semifinals -- edged them on the third tie breaker according to the region’s rules.
“I think this team deserves better than it got,” Maynard said. “That’s the hardest thing to explain to this team. We should be in the Region tournament. That’s one of the biggest travestys to justice that I’ve seen in my coaching career. It’s beyond my understanding.”
Charlottesville will head to Fauquier Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.