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Tue., Feb. 12 - sj-boys-hold-off-late-charge-for-70-67-win
SJ boys hold off late-charge for 70-67 win
© Gainesville TimesMaking up for a disappointing loss to Osbourn in the 2012 Cedar Run District tournament champion by capturing the regular season title this year turned out to be a good start for the Stonewall Jackson varsity boys basketball team.
It just wasn't enough though.
They wanted what they lost last year.
And this time, they held on.
Stonewall stayed undefeated in the district on Friday night in Manassas, taking down arch rival Battlefield 70 to 67 in an edge-of-the-seat thriller complete with lead changes, buzzer-beaters and even a tumble-off between opposing cheerleaders as they flipped their way across the court.
"We prepare for games like this all the time, said Stonewall forward Diandre Stuffs, who led all scorers with 26 points.
Battlefield and Stonewall alike both qualified for the Northwest Regional tournament though Stonewall will enjoy the benefits of being the top seed.
On Friday, they combined for 10 triples in the first half alone, with Stonewall senior guard Marcus Farber drilling four of them himself, including three in the first quarter.
His teammates Emmanuel Berchie and JR Washington drained one each while Battlefield's Roman Hall, Blake Pagon, Trevor Blondin and Jamison Glover all hit their own.
Even though Farber led both teams in scoring by halftime with 14, it became apparent that two of the key players from both teams would be Hall and Stonewall's big man down low: Stuffs.
The junior power forward obliterated the post, scoring 26 points, including nine in the second quarter.
Battlefield claimed a 19-18 lead by the end of the first quarter and pushed that margin to a 36 to 26 advantage once Glover drilled a wide-open three pointer as Stonewall's defenders left him alone to cover everyone else.
Glover had so much time, he looked for an open teammate before looking back at the rim, squaring up and sinking a shot with less than 3 minutes to go before the buzzer.
Stuffs responded with a hoop and harm conversion for three points of his own and then took an assist for another basket under the hook, cutting the gap to five points.
Washington then knocked down a 3-pointer and Berchie found Stuffs open, allowing the junior to charge hard to the hole, tying the game at 36 to 36.
A Battlefield turnover gave Stonewall one last chance to capitalize with less than 10 seconds remaining before the half.
That's when Stuffs picked up a rebound under the hoop and, with one bounce, put it back up as time expired to give the Raiders a two-point advantage.
Hall tied the game back up at 49-all when he hit a shot from the top of the key during the third quarter but Stuffs once again answered with a basket and foul shot, putting the Raiders back up by three at the end of the third quarter.
Fom there, Battlefield would close the game to within two points with 1:20 to go in regulation when Blondin rebounded his own missed shot and put the ball back up.
He could have done even more damage and tied the game up had it not been for two missed foul shots but what really gave Stonewall breathing room came when junior guard Greg Stroman, the football team's all-star quarterback, drilled two free throws of his own, making the game a two-possession affair.
"We've got to free Roman up to get the ball," Battlefield head coach Kurt Pauly declared during a time out.
Sure enough, Hall would drive the distance of the court to score the Bobcats' next basket, but that only came after Stuffs put one in himself.
Stonewall then seemed to almost try to give the lead away with two missed free throws and a missed rebounding opportunity after Battlefield sophomore Kameron Hedgepath missed a foul shot following a made one.
It appeared that he intentionally missed the shot though as he immediately crashed the boards after the shot, grabbed his own rebound and earned another foul on his way back up, sending him back to the line with his team trailing 68 to 65.
Once again though, two more missed free throws cost Battlefield dearly. Stuffs, meanwhile, repeated Stroman's clutch performance from a minute earlier by sinking two foul shots with 7.6 seconds to go in the game.
Hall ran the floor at the end for a buzzer-beating deuce but it was too little too late by that point.
"Raiders win! Raiders win! Raiders win!" bellowed public address announcer Elmo Green to cheers from the Stonewall faithful.
When asked about the upcoming regional tournament, which will feature Stonewall as a No. 1 seed and Battlefield as a permanent road dog, Washington opted to stick to the present and savor the team's trophy.
"We're going to enjoy this moment," he said.