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Prep Boys Basketball: Wolverines show mettle
By STEVE FRANZELLO
THE FREE LANCE-STAR
THE FREE LANCE-STAR
A brutal stretch of five games in eight days was just one of the concerns for North Stafford coach Brad Lear before Friday night’s game against Stafford.
Starting with their game against the Indians, the Wolverines were scheduled to play four more games in the upcoming week, including a showdown with Commonwealth District leader Mountain View on Tuesday.
Added to that imposing task was playing Friday’s game against Stafford and tonight’s home contest against Colonial Forge without the services of team leader and No. 2 scorer, Brandon Ravenel, who is at James Madison University on a football visit.
Losing the athleticism and scoring of Ravenel presented a challenge to the Wolverines, who were down to 10 players.
But this is a veteran team and they played like one against the Indians, building a 20-point lead at the half, and then gritting out a 57–50 district victory to stay within one game of the Wildcats.
“With Brandon out, we needed everybody to step up,” said senior Lyndon White, who scored 12 points and helped the Wolverines fight off a spirited second-half rally by Stafford. “We have a lot of weapons.”
A balanced scoring attack was a big factor in the Wolverines’ success, as well as another strong night on the backboards.
Three players scored in double figures. Besides White’s 12 points, hustling guard Jordan Thompson contributed 13 and a strong floor game, while Usie Miller added 10 and several key rebounds.
Thompson sparked the big first-half lead with his outside shooting. Two of his 3-pointers came in the first two quarters, when the Wolverines (10–2, 7–1) buried four of their six shots from behind the 3-point arc to take charge.
“I shot a lot before the game and felt good,” said Thompson. “This was an important game for us and we have another one tomorrow.”
After leading by eight at the end of the first period, Thompson, White and Justin Tuckson sparked a strong second quarter for North Stafford that eventually was too much for Stafford to overcome.
Thompson and White drained back-to-back treys to get an 18–6 run started. Tuckson connected on two of his own late in the quarter and the Wolverines took a 34–14 lead into the locker room.
“It seemed like every offense we tried in the first half worked,” said Lear. “We need for someone to rise to the forefront with the scoring and I though we had a couple of guys do that, especially Jordan. He gave us a big lift with his shooting and ball-handling.”
Faced with a 20-point deficit, Stafford (7–7, 4–6) showed its mettle in the second half.
With guard Quan Evans (20 points) and forward Evan Greening (15 points, 12 rebounds) leading the way, the Indians outscored their hosts 36–23 in the final two quarters, but couldn’t complete the comeback.
Ryan Jones’ long-range 3-pointer from the top cut the lead to 56–50 with 20 seconds left, but that was as close as they could come.
Evans, who was making just his second start of the season, buried four 3-pointers and was a major contributor to the Indians resurgence in the second half.
His 3-pointer with two minutes left in the third quarter ignited a 12–4 scoring run for the Indians to end the period and pull them to within 46–34.
He scored again on a fast break to narrow the gap to eight points midway through the fourth quarter, but North Stafford sealed its victory with free-throws by White and Jalen Sarrat in the final seconds.
“We have 11 players on this team who had never played varsity basketball before this year,” Stafford coach Danny Tryon said. “We need to be ready to play. North Stafford is a veteran team and they came out and showed it tonight.”
Stafford visits Osbourn on Wednesday for a non-district game.
Stafford 8 6 20 16 — 50
N. Stafford 16 18 12 11 — 57
Stafford (7–7, 4–6): Brandon Brown 2, Quan Evans 20, Mike Gordon 0, Evan Greening 15, Da’Shawn Harris 10, Ryan Jones 3, Austin Kerns 0, Dylan Lane 0, Devantae Mitchell 0, Jalen Nembhard 0, Trey Spindel 0, Colt Steigerwald 0, R.C. Stephens III 0. Totals: 15 15-22 50.
North Stafford (10–2, 7–1): Keyon Carter 0, Jake Gallagher 0, Usie Miller 10, Kain Rush 0, Jalen Sarratt 3, Anthony Shegog 9, Even Skjellaug 2, Jordan Thompson 13, Justin Tuckson 8, Lyndon White 12. Totals: 22 7-14 57.
Three-point goals: Stafford 5 (Q. Evans 4, R. Jones). North Stafford 6 (J. Thompson 3, J. Tuckson 2, L. White).
Steve Franzello: 540/374-5440