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BOYS BASKETBALL: Eagles reach for next gear

For a change, Tuesday night’s game between Commonwealth District rivals Mountain View and Colonial Forge didn’t have any postseason playoff implications.

But for the Eagles and their coach, Jason John, Colonial Forge’s 80–49 nonconference victory over the Wildcats felt really good.

“I’m proud of our boys and how they competed,” said John. “We wanted to get the monkey off our backs. We hadn’t beaten Mountain View since I’ve been here. It was nice to finally get one against them.”

Junior guard Marco Haskins, who has played for John since he was a freshman, scored 23 points to pace the Eagles (10–1) to their highest point total of the season and their eighth straight victory.

“We knew this was a big game for us,” said Haskins, who scored 12 of his points from behind the 3-point arc. “We hadn’t beaten them in the last three years. We shared the ball really well.”

Led by Haskins’ five assists and Damen Daniel’s four, the Eagles recorded 20 for the game, and their crisp passing and ball movement, especially in the second half, paid big dividends.

Leading by just seven points at the end of the first half (31–24), they erupted for 49 more in the final two quarters behind a relentless attack led by Haskins, TJ Flood (11 points) and Isiah Williams (10). Nine of the 11 players used by John scored.

“We try to pride ourselves on passing first, looking for the open man and then looking for our shot,” said Flood, a junior point guard.

Against the Wildcats, like it has been for most of the first half of the season, their unselfishness was one of the big keys to their success.

Another big factor was their defense, which had given up just 42 points per game prior to last night’s contest. After allowing 19 points in the third quarter, they held Mountain View to just six points in the final eight minutes.

“[Colonial Forge] is a great team,” said Wildcats’ coach Kevin Brown. “We just got demolished tonight.”

Mountain View (7–6), which had lost four in a row since a 7–1 start, came out firing on all cylinders in the first quarter. Darren Robinson scored on a short hook shot to ignite an early 6–0 run by the Wildcats in the first two minutes.

But a deep 3-pointer from the top of the key by Haskins got Colonial Forge on track and sparked a 17–6 run by the Eagles to end the quarter.

Haskins buried three of his four treys during that stretch. Athletic forward Winston Burgess also fueled the big run with a pair of baskets that included a slam-dunk off a a Wildcats turnover.

“We came out firing and then I think Winston’s dunk really got us going,” said Haskins.

The spark stayed lit throughout the first half, but Mountain View stayed within striking distance, thanks mainly to the playmaking and shooting of last year’s Commonwealth District player of the year, Lucas Brown.

Lucas scored only six of his game-high 24 points in the first half, but his floor play helped keep the the game close.

Brown put on a shooting clinic in the final minute of the third quarter after the Eagles had built a 54–34 lead with a balanced attack. The senior guard connected on three straight 3-point baskets to narrow the lead to 56–43. But the Eagles would not be denied.

Daniel’s 3-pointer from the corner started another Colonial Forge surge and the Eagles just kept picking up steam. They outscored the Wildcats 24–6 in the final period to put an exclamation point on their 10th victory of the year.

The Eagles’ defense, which held Riverbend to 22 points and Forest Park to 28 earlier this season, helped force 18 turnovers against the Wildcats, including 12 in the decisive second half.

“We’re getting better each game [on defense] said Haskins. “We practice our shell drill and it keeps improving.”

Now that they have gotten the monkey off their backs against the Wildcats, the Eagles are ready to keep moving forward and seeing how far they can go.”

“We just need to keep working hard in practice and grinding it out and seeing where this season takes us,” said Haskins. “We’ve been doing a good job of it so far.”

Added Flood: “We want to keep getting better, but we also want to stay humble.”

Colonial Forge visits Brooke Point on Friday for another nonconference game. Mountain View travels to Massaponax on the same night.

M. View 12 12 19 6 — 49

Col. Forge 20 11 25 24 — 80

Scoring

Mountain View (7–6): Luke Adams 2, Dallin Biorn 0, Lucas Brown 24, Elijah Burruss 7, Sterling Collins 0, Jahmil Collison-Coffee 2, E.J. Fisher 6, Tyler Helmandollar 0, Jalen Hill 0, Brock Jordan 2, Jacob Pollock 0, Darren Robinson 6, Jacob Clark 0. Totals: 15 15-19 49.

Colonial Forge (10–1): Winston Burgess 9, Damen Daniel 3, Carion Eaton 0, T.J. Flood 11, Jaylen Franklin 7, Austin Hall 0, Marco Haskins 23, Gary Jennings 8, Phillip King 3, James Shellington 6, Isiah Williams 10. Totals: 30 12-17 8.

Three-point goals: Mountain View 4 (L. Brown 4). Colonial Forge 8 (D. Daniel, T. Flood, J. Franklin, M. Haskins 4, P. King).

Steve Franzello: 540/374-5440

sports@freelancestar.com

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