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Prep Boys Basketball: Devils take it to their speed

BY TAFT COGHILL JR.

THE FREE LANCE-STAR

When the Chancellor High School boys basketball team defeated Culpeper earlier this season, the Chargers controlled the pace without standout forward Chris Holmes.

Holmes missed that contest with a head injury, but the Chargers won on a buzzer-beater.

So with Holmes in the lineup Tuesday night, conventional wisdom was that the Chargers were in good shape in a rematch of the two teams tied for first-place in the Battlefield District.

That wasn’t the case.

Culpeper played the up-tempo style of play it prefers in an 81–66 home victory that gave it sole possession of first-place in the district.

“They kept it in the 50s,” Blue Devils head coach James Thompson said of how Chancellor won the first game. “We try to touch 65 [points] or better and we like our chances. When we get it that high everybody gets touches.”

The Blue Devils (15–2, 8–1 Battlefield) played just six players Tuesday night, but five of them scored in double-figures. Senior forward Nik Stewart led the way with 24 points. Junior guard Henry Butler added 20.

But Thompson has come to expect those types of contributions from his two leading scorers. He was more thrilled with the efforts of Justin White (14 points, seven rebounds), Anthony Banks (10 points, 11 rebounds) and Adrian Strother (13 points, six assists, four steals).

“It was very pleasing,” Thompson said of the balanced attack.

Thompson said the Blue Devils didn’t apply their pressure defense as much against the Chargers (12–4, 7–2) because of their lack of depth.

He wanted Culpeper to sustain its energy down the stretch. It worked as the Blue Devils used a 10–0 run to increase a 64–59 lead to

74–59 with a little more than three minutes remaining.

Chancellor first-year head coach Rob Reich said the difference in the game was “their transition offense and our lack of transition defense.”

“You ain’t going to win too many games giving up 80 points in a night,” Reich said. “That’s the bottom line.”

Reich said the Chargers’ offense wasn’t the problem. Ryan Greer delivered 21 points as he connected on five of Chancellor’s eight

3-pointers.

Holmes added 12 points and guard Josh James chipped in 10.

“We just played a little sluggish on defense,” Holmes said. “We kept scoring to get back close and then we’d give up points as well.”

The Blue Devils used an 11–0 run to take control of the game in the second quarter and Chancellor got no closer than four points the rest of the game.

When the spurt was over, Culpeper had turned a 24–22 deficit into a 33–24 advantage. The Chargers trailed 35–28 at halftime, but they caught fire from behind the 3-point line after intermission.

Greer and James combined to hit four 3-pointers during an early third-quarter stretch. However, Chancellor failed to stop the Blue Devils.

Whether it was White and Banks scoring on layups, Butler driving the lane or Stewart connecting on jumpers, there was no slowing down the Blue Devils.

“We’ve been sluggish for a few games,” Greer said. “We need to pick the intensity up. Once we get our intensity back up we should be good.”

The Chargers visit Caroline on Friday. Culpeper hosts King George the same night.

“It was a must-win,” Thompson said of Tuesday night. “But all that does is make the next game bigger.”

    Chancellor 15 13 20 18 — 66

    Culpeper 18 17 22 24 — 81

    Scoring

    Chancellor (12–4, 7–2): Anthony Alexander 0, Dre Edwards 6, Ryan Greer 21, Tre’von Henson 0, Chris Holmes 12, Josh James 10, Matt King 3, James Mickens 0, Jason Morgan 4, Chris Patterson 8, Emannuel Royster 2. Totals: 27 4-6 66.

    Culpeper (15–2, 8–1): Anthony Banks 10, Henry Butler 20, Billy Hogan 0, Nik Stewart 24, Adrian Strother 13, J.D. White 14. Totals: 33 13-17 81.

    Three-point goals: Chancellor 8 (R. Greer 5, J. James 2, M. King). Culpeper 2 (N. Stewart, A. Strother).

Taft Coghill Jr.: 540/374-5526

tcoghill@freelancestar.com

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