By Ben Sheridan / Scrimmageplaycva.com contributor
It’s not about how you start, but how you finish.
Charlottesville’s boys basketball team didn’t start well, but they definitely finished brilliantly in the Black Knights’ Jefferson District quarterfinal clash against Orange.
“We have a habit of starting off slow, we’ve got to do a better job with that, it hurt us against Louisa and tonight it almost hurt us,” said Charlottesville coach Mitch Minor.
The Black Knights used a furious fourth quarter rally to overcome that slow start and an 11-point deficit at the start of the fourth. Charlottesville slipped past the Hornets with a 57-56 victory on the strength of a Zymir Faulkner putback with two seconds to play.
The Hornets started the game on fire. They charged out to a 17-5 early lead and seemed to play great in all facets of the game. The Hornets finished the quarter up 12, led by a balanced offense, including JJ MacDonald who scored five points. MacDonald finished as the Hornets’ leading scorer with 17 points.
In the second quarter, the Black Knights started to knock down shots from all areas of the court. Faulkner and Christian Stewart led the way with five points apiece in that frame. Stewart finished with 10 while Faulkner led the Black Knights with 21 points. That surge helped Charlottesville begin to fight their way back, cutting the deficit to 32-23 at the half.
But the Hornets extended their lead once again in the third. They were playing an inspired brand of basketball, full of effort and intensity.
Destin Bray put up four of his 15 points to help spark the offense.
“For us to be able to compete with these guys, and we competed with Louisa on Wednesday night, so for us to compete with these top-level teams, I think that says a lot about Orange County basketball and the direction we’re headed,” said Orange coach Adam Utz.
The Black Knights were staring down a 43-32 deficit in the face when they went to the fourth, and knew that they needed to turn things around and fast.
“Going into the fourth, we knew that we just needed to get stops, stops, stops, that was the main thing on our head was to get stops,” said Charlottesville’s Isaiah Washington, who had 10 points for the Black Knights.
They got stops, and they got them in bunches. The Black Knights turned up the pressure and found ways to keep the Hornets off the scoreboard for much of the fourth, whether it was forcing tough shots or forcing turnovers.
Offensively, a late 7-0 run for the Black Knights changed everything. Faulkner, who would score the final seven points for his team, including the putback with 2.7 seconds left that decided the game. A half-court shot as the buzzer sounded didn’t fall for the Hornets, and Charlottesville earned a trip to Louisa in the district semifinals Monday night.