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Raiders’ Comeback Bid Falls Short in NW Semi’s

- The Raiders scored at a torrid pace in the fourth quarter to pull within a single tally of the Wildcats at 60-59, before faltering on their final few possessions and being compelled to foul down the stretch in a 67-59 loss.

Raiders’ Comeback Bid Falls Short in NW Semi’s

Greg Stroman’s second free throw with 1:50 left to play wasn’t supposed to be the peak. The Raiders expected another turnover, another moonshot trey by J.R. Washington; anything to cap a comeback to rule them all.

Unfortunately for the Raiders, who trailed host Mountain View by 16 at halftime and as many as 18 early on in fourth quarter of Thursday's Northwest Region basketball semifinals, Stroman’s late trip to the line proved a high-watermark: of the comeback attempt and ultimately, of Stonewall’s bid for a state tournament berth.

Both fell just short. The Raiders scored at a torrid pace in the fourth quarter to pull within a single tally of the Wildcats at 60-59, before faltering on their final few possessions and being compelled to foul down the stretch in a 67-59 loss.

The Raiders' fourth quarter run, at its core, can be traced to wounded pride, the result of a subpar showing in the first half.

“We just fought,” said J.R. Washington, who posted fourteen of his game-high 28 points in the fourth quarter alone. “We didn’t want to look like a punk coming in here, so we just fought. That was just our heart taking over.”

In the first half, the Raiders appeared confounded with Mountain View’s 1-3-1 zone, and often settled for less-than-stellar looks.

“They extended and they trapped a little bit more out of their 1-3-1,” said Raiders’ coach Marcus Lawrence, comparing the Wildcats’ defense to an early-season matchup between the two teams on Dec. 8. “I don’t know what we shot in the first half, but I know it wasn’t good.”

The Raiders started to show signs of life in the second half. Wildcats’ coach Kevin Brown was hit with a technical foul a minute into the final stanza, and the Raiders snagged four points as a result. Washington hit one of his two shots and nailed a three on the ensuing possession to cut the Wildcats’ lead to ten.

“It gave them a little bit of momentum,” said Mountain View’s Ben Keller of Brown’s infraction, “but we got our heads back together and got back in.” Keller led Mountain View with 17 points.

Even before his team caught fire from the field, Lawrence had them believing a win was within reach.

“Our kids are never going to quit,” said Lawrence. “That’s the way we practice, that’s the way we’re built. To be honest, I thought we were going to win the game even when we were down seventeen.”

And when the Raiders trailed 50-40 after Brown’s tech, Lawrence told his team as much.

“I told them ‘you cut it to ten, we’re going to win the game,’” he recounted. “Unfortunately, we got it to one, and the rim went cold again. That’s the way it bounces sometimes in regionals.”

Brown praised the play of Washington, who served as the singular focus of the Raiders’ offense in the fourth quarter.

“Washington kinda single-handedly put them back in the game,” said Brown. “He was phenomenal through that one stretch.”

Points allowed in the paint killed Stonewall all game long, and inside the final minute, the Wildcats bit the Raiders inside one final time.

Xavier Fisher effectively iced the contest for the Wildcats when he made a lay-up with 34 seconds left, making it a two-possession game at 64-59.

Mountain View will host Battlefield in the Northwest Region title game Sat. Feb. 23 at 7PM. The Bobcats defeated GW-Danville 95-89 on the road Thursday, and in doing so, qualified for states for the first time in that school’s history.

Stonewall Jackson 59, Mountain View 67

SJ: Washington 28, Farber 12, Ali 10, Berchie 4, Stroman 4, Hopkins 2

MV: Keller 17, Fisher 11, Tyrus Mason 11, Wilson 14, Brown 5, Tyrell Mason 9

Halftime: Mountain View, 32-16

3-pointers: SJ 7(Washington 5, Ali, Farber), MV 3(Tyrus Mason 3)

Free throws: SJ (19 of 21) MV (18 of 26)
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