Twenty five was the magic number in Friday night’s 4/5 matchup between Orange County and Charlottesville on Friday night in the Jefferson District Tournament.
Immanuel Wells scored 25 points and the Black Knights as a team forced 25 turnovers and used that defense to fuel a burst that helped them leave the Hornets in the dust 67-48 in the rubber match between the teams. Each team claimed victory on its home court in the regular season.
Orange jumped out to an early 8-3 lead, but the Black Knights turned up the defense midway through the quarter. Isaiah Washington atoned for a missed three-point-play opportunity with two consecutive steals and coast-to-coast layups to help CHS to an 11-10 lead after one.
A pair of Nick Motley three-pointers helped continue the run in the second quarter, and when Wells and Motley, who had all of his points in the second quarter, each sank a pair of foul shots, the run had reached 14-2 and the lead had reached double digits. A basket by KaeShaun Braxton stopped the bleeding for Orange, but Charlottesville maintained the double-digit advantage to the half and beyond, going into the break up 34-22.
“I thought we played much better defense than the last time we played them,” Charlottesville head coach Mitch Minor said. “We came out with intensity, we got some steals and layups, and it got us a double-digit lead.”
Orange, however, cut the margin to 36-31 on consecutive baskets by Braxton and another by Shannon Mull with just under five minutes to play in the third.
But Charlottesville responded with yet another run — this one 11-0 — with all the points scored by Wells and Isaiah Washington en route to a 47-33 lead at the end of the quarter, and the Hornets never seriously threatened again.
“We didn’t have any weak side help [against Braxton],” Minor said. “It was just about seeing the ball and the man. We had opportunities inside to take the ball away and we did.”
In addition to Wells’ output, three other Black Knights scored in double figures–Tyree Carter had 11, while Washington and Motley both had 10.
Braxton’s game-high 20 led the Hornets while Jaylen Alexander had 13 and Mull added 10 for Orange, which will prepare for the Class 5, Region D tournament.
“Part of our halftime talk was that we had to win the battle,” Orange head coach Adam Utz said. “They really brought it to us in the first half. We were shooting ourselves in the foot — a lot of our turnovers were our own fault.”
Charlottesville, which already knows it will travel to Bassett in the first round of Class 4, Region D, will face top-seeded Louisa on Monday in the district semifinals. The Lions blew out visiting Fluvanna in the first round.