Facing its longtime Virginia Independent Conference rival from Lynchburg for the first time in what could be potentially four meetings — something not all that uncommon from these two the last two seasons — the Blue Ridge rode a great defensive performance and saw Chris Rogers and Sadaar Calhoun come up big on offense to lead the way to a 51-40 win over Virginia Episcopal.
“We were very excited about our defensive effort,” said Blue Ridge coach Cade Lemcke. “They got a couple of open three’s to start the game but after that we did a great job of making them really try to score. That made us feel great being up 10 there in the second half when you’re continuing to play the kind of defense we were playing. Hats off to VES though because they’re a great team and they really made us work.”
With three truly balanced quarters in the first, third and fourth, it was the the Barons defense in the second quarter that provided the ultimate difference in the contest. While Blue Ridge was able to get six field goals and a pair of 3-pointers from Calhoun on offense, VES was held to just four points to put things at 29-18 going into the break.
After halftime, the Barons took a 33-20 lead early behind Jaden Frazier. The Bishops fought back with Jaelin Llewellyn hitting a pair of 3-pointers and getting his team as close as seven points of the lead.
From there, VES simply could not make it a one possession game. The Barons kept guards Ismael Plet and Llewellyn in relative ncheck and allowed next to nothing in the paint from the Bishop forwards while on the other side of the court, Rogers and Calhoun kept rolling offensively and kept the visitors from getting an opportunity to foul their way back into the game.
Lost in the stats of the victory was VES’ defense against Darius McGhee. The Baron’s senior wasn’t allowed much to look at offensively and while he finished with two points, 18 off of his average on the year, Blue Ridge took advantage of the respect shown to the senior sniper by getting Rogers and Calhoun to take advantage of their openings. Calhoun had a game high 19 points while Rogers finished with 12. Myles Jones had 11 points.
“Darius has really carried us so much in previous games that it was great that Chris and Sadaar were able to show what they have, what they can do,” Lemcke said. “I’m never concerned about our offense. We have too many guys that know how to contribute. But still, I’m proud of Sadaar and Chris of coming out and being aggressive because that opened the door for us to allow Darius and the others on defense to do their jobs.”
On the flip side, Blue Ridge held Llewellyn to 15 points and Pelt to 10. Patrick Kelly had nine points with seven of them coming in the first before the Barons locked things down in the paint. From the second quarter on, VES only got four points outside of Llewellyn and Pelt.
“I thought our combination of Myles Jones, Dairus McGhee and Chris Rogers all guarding Llewellyn really made it all work,” Lemcke said. “And then after that, everyone else stepped up in their role to make the defensive effort work as a whole. I was proud of that.”
Blue Ridge (11-3) heads to North Carolina to play Voyager Academy on Saturday at 6 p.m.