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HIGH SCHOOL BOYS BASKETBALL: Knights right ship against JM

With five of its top six players back from last year’s playoff team, Spotsylvania is looking to make some noise in Conference 27 this season.

After back-to-back losses to Culpeper and Caroline, Friday night’s visit to James Monroe may have gotten the Knights headed back in the right direction.

With junior Darius Carter leading the way with a 10-for-11 effort at the line, the Knights used some timely free-throw shooting in the closing minutes to turn back the Yellow Jackets, 50–47, and improve to 2–2.

“We hadn’t been communicating that well in the last two games,” said Spotsylvania coach Len Carlson. “But today our chemistry was much better. We talked about what we needed to do. I was really pleased.”

The improved communication on the court paid off for the Knights, especially at the foul line, where they made good on 16 of their 24 attempts to help offset an 18–15 edge in field goals by the Jackets.

Friday’s contest was the season opener for JM, which was forced to alter its schedule due to the Jackets’ third straight trip to the state football championship game. Several JM players participate in both sports.

“I’m proud of the effort our kids gave tonight,” said JM coach Julian Bumbrey, who was coaching his first boys varsity game after 12 successful seasons as the girls head coach. “We have some work to do, but we executed and shared the ball well.”

After scoring the first two points of the game on a floater in the lane by Dre’Jon Boley, the Jackets spent the rest of the first half trying to catch their visitors, who built a 13–6 lead at the end of the first period.

The outside shooting of Carter and guard Bilal Marlowe and the rebounding of 6-foot-4 center Bradley Anderson were the main reasons for Spotsylvania’s early success.

Carter scored seven of his game-high 19 points and Marlowe added six of his 11 as the Knights’ lead grew to seven points. Anderson ruled the backboards in the early going, grabbing six of his 13 rebounds in the first eight minutes.

But JM got things under control before halftime, thanks mainly to the steady play of senior guard Ben Henderson, who scored 10 0f his 12 points in the second quarter, mostly from long range.

“Ben was a factor for us,” Bumbrey said. “He’s our leading scorer from last year and has put in a lot of hard work.”

Down 24–23 at the intermission, JM put together an 11–1 scoring run to start the second half and built a 34–28 lead on Chris Somuah’s driving layup through heavy traffic in the lane.

But on a night when there were five lead changes and five ties, it didn’t take the Knights long to respond to the challenge.

Using a full-court press that helped force seven JM turnovers, they regained their momentum and the lead, thanks to their hustling play on both ends of the court.

Carter buried a 10-foot jump shot to ignite an 8–2 spurt by Spotsylvania in the final two minutes of the third quarter. Marlowe’s 3-pointer from the top of the key pulled the Knights even at 36–36 as the buzzer sounded.

“JM has some good athletes and a new coach,” Carlson said. “I wasn’t used to seeing them play a lot of zone, but our guys fought through it. I thought we did a pretty good job.”

In the fourth quarter, they did a pretty good job of finding a way to win.

After Carter’s 3-point play put them ahead 45–40 with three minutes left, JM rallied and tied the score on a free throw by James McFadden.

But in the closing minutes, the Knights free-throw shooting, especially Carter’s, proved to be the difference in the game.

With 14 seconds left, Carter rolled off a double-pick and was fouled. He calmly sank both shots and Spotsylvania held on for its second win of the season.

Both teams are idle until after the holiday break. Spotsylvania plays Spotswood in the Fluvanna Invitation tournament on Dec. 30. JM visits King George on Jan. 7.

Spotsylvania 13 11 12 14 — 50

J. Monroe 6 17 13 11 — 47

Scoring

Spotsylvania (2–2): Bilal Marlowe 11, Alan Courtney 5, Darius Carter 19, Devin Kennedy 6, Bradley Anderson 9, Danny Brooks 0, Andrew Morgan 0. Totals: 15 16-24 50

James Monroe (0–1): Dre’Jon Boley 9, Antonio Edwards 6, Ben Henderson 12, Tevon Lucas 0, James McFadden 3, Chris Somuah 10, Percy Burt 0, Nick Cook 5, Tai’Yohnn Ellis 2. Totals: 18 6-12 47

Three-point goals: Spotsylvania 4 (B. Marlowe 3, D. Carter). James Monroe 5 (D. Boley, B. Henderson 2, C. Somuah, N. Cook).

Steve Franzello: 540/374-5440

sports@freelancestar.com

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