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March 3, 2011

Blue Ridge slips past Miller in OT

By Scott Ratcliffe | Daily Progress correspondent

Blue Ridge guard Chad Holley has undoubtedly hit some big shots in his Baron career. The senior floor general from Brooklyn continued the trend in the No. 1 Barons’ VIS Division I state quarterfinal matchup against No. 8 Miller on Wednesday night, but saved his best for last.

The Barons faced a stiff test from the visiting Mavericks, especially down the stretch, but Blue Ridge — thanks to a late Holley three-pointer in the extra session — held off Miller for the fourth time this season. On Wednesday, it was a win or go home situation that was settled in overtime, 66-59.

“They willed themselves to a win and refused to lose,” Blue Ridge coach Bill Ramsey said of his team’s fortitude. “They just didn’t want to lose that fourth meeting, it would’ve put us out [of the postseason]. It’s a special season and the guys just gutted it out, definitely in overtime.”

Barons senior Malick Kone led the team with 20 points and eight rebounds, while Holley added 17 points and eight assists. Another star senior, forward Cameron Anderson, chipped in with 14 points — including some crucial free throws in the final two minutes — and a game-high nine rebounds.

Blue Ridge (25-1) now will move on to the state semifinals on Friday night at Virginia State University in Petersburg to face No. 4 Paul VI, as the Panthers knocked off No. 5 Cape Henry Collegiate on Wednesday by 20. Blue Ridge lost to Paul VI (21-10) in the state final two seasons ago, but bounced the Panthers in last year’s quarterfinal round.

Miller finishes its season with a record of 17-12, but had a shot at taking the heavily-favored Barons out on their home floor. Junior Andrew White had 19 points, seven rebounds (both team highs) and three assists to lead the Mavericks. Janiel Jenkins added 11, and Travis Hester contributed off the bench with nine points, five boards, and four assists.

“We feel like we belong with the No. 1 team in the state, even in their own gym,” Miller coach Scott Willard said after the emotional game. “We’ve played an unbelievably tough schedule, and we paid for it with an 8-seed. We played [Tuesday] and we had to play back-to-back games, but we’ve proven — even on back-to-back nights — we’re one of the best teams in the state and we’ve got everybody returning. They showed a ton of fight tonight on the road; I’ll put my guys up against anyone.”

Blue Ridge opened the game on a 7-0 run, as Holley scored seven of the team’s first 11 points, and the Barons led by as many as 11 in the first quarter. Miller would battle back with runs of 7-0 and 7-2 over the next eight minutes as Blue Ridge connected on just one field goal during that span. The Mavericks trimmed the lead to one with a few minutes left until the break, but Blue Ridge responded with an 8-2 spurt — capped by a Kone 3 just before the buzzer — to close the half and take a 30-23 lead.

Miller came out firing in the third, connecting on five triples in the period and taking its first lead of the game at 37-36 halfway through. The two teams would go on to tie seven times and change leads nine times over the remainder of what proved to be an exciting finish.

“Miller’s a really good team,” said Ramsey, who agreed that the Mavericks’ record and seed were no indication of their abilities. “They have a lot of talent and it seems like they put it together tonight, especially in that second half. It seemed like they didn’t miss a shot in the third quarter when they made that run. We had a couple breakdowns but most of the time we were covering them, they were just knocking down shots, and they played hard, they had some big rebounds and second shots and they were aggressive.

“They were the kind of team we knew they could be, and I totally anticipated seeing it tonight. We’re really fortunate getting out of here and beating a team like that four times.”

With the game knotted at 53-53, Blue Ridge lost senior center Isaiah Battle at the 3:53 mark of the fourth, as he took a shot to the lip on a rebound attempt and headed to the locker room. Battle, who will play football at Clemson next season, had the deep gash stitched up after the game, and Ramsey hopes to have him back this weekend.

After White tied the contest at 56-all with 1:54 left in regulation, Blue Ridge played keep away and held for the last shot as Holley drove the lane with under ten seconds for a potential game-winning assist, but Anderson missed from in close and Miller grabbed the rebound and called for time with 2.2 seconds to go. The Mavericks’ ensuing full-length pass was intercepted to send the game to extra time.

“We didn’t want to extend ourselves, we had a hard enough time keeping the point guard out of the paint,” Willard said of the possession, which lasted nearly two minutes. “They’ve been setting great ball screens and getting action by us, but we let them hold onto it, we didn’t want to foul, they were in the bonus, so the hand was in their favor and I thought we guarded our butts off and had a shot at it to win in the end. I thought we did our job, I would’ve played it the same way if I was on [Ramsey’s] side, and I think he’d have guarded the same way. That’s basketball without a shot clock.”

Ramsey added: “We got a good look, and I thought Cameron did a good job in the overtime of putting that behind him and then making some big free throws and getting some big rebounds, and Andre Roberts got a huge rebound for us.”

Each team went 2 for 4 from the stripe to begin the OT, then Holley stepped up and delivered a dagger from the top of the key to give his team a 61-58 lead with two minutes to play. On Miller’s next trip down, White misfired and Roberts snagged the board, and Blue Ridge went on to hit five of its final seven free throw attempts to seal the game.

“Chad hit that huge three, and that was the difference-maker,” Ramsey said. “I think the team did a very good job of getting good shots down the stretch, not rushing things, and putting ourselves in a good situation.”

Miller loses no seniors in the offseason, and Willard is confident that his team will be a force to be reckoned with this time next season.

“I hope our guys play with the composure that the Blue Ridge seniors do, next year,” the coach said. “They’ve been there before, they beat us in the final four last year, played in the final game and pretty much everyone returned. So hopefully, we take this experience and play like Blue Ridge did next year.”

Blue Ridge will face Paul VI at 7 p.m. Friday in Petersburg.

Link to original article HERE.


March 2, 2011

Blue Ridge Final Four Bound

It had been a while since anything had fallen for Blue Ridge. But after a dry spell where the only points the Barons could find were at the free throw line, Chad Holley put the dagger in Miller’s chest. The senior’s shot might have fallen with two minutes still left in overtime, but it created the much needed seperation.

Chad Holley and Blue Ridge are headed to Petersburg for the third straight season.Photo: Frank Crocker

“He’s got ice water in his veins,” said Barons coach Bill Ramsey. “He’s played in a lot of big games and he’s one of a lot of our guys that always stays even-keeled, doesn’t get too excited.”

It was the only field goal that fell through the net in overtime. After a few clutch defensive rebounds and a slew of Cameron Anderson and Darryl Smith free throws, Blue Ridge had survived. While the first meeting came down to a last second shot between this two schools, there was little doubt that this fourth encounter was the toughest and most exciting. And at the end of the night the Barons punched their ticket to the final four in Petersburg this weekend with a 66-59 overtime win over the Mavericks in the VISAA Division 1 quarterfinals.

“I think we’ve got some good things going and a lot of it is the two and three years of work that most of these guys have put together,” Ramsey said. “They’ve been living in the dorms together for a long time now, developed a lot of chemistry. In those timeouts at the end they were just getting on each other, telling one another to fight. They were willing themselves to win. I really didn’t have to do a whole lot except worry. They didn’t do Chad Holley and Blue Ridge are headed to Petersburg for the third straight season.much of that, it was just me.”

Miller dug itself out of a 7-point deficit to start the third quarter to eventually take a 1-point lead in the middle of the frame. After that, it was neck-and-neck with no wiggle room for either.

“As a team, Miller really shot the lights out on us in that third quarter,” Ramsey said. “They hit a lot of 3-pointers and not too many of them were wide open looks, they were contested.”

With the game tied at 56 and 90 seconds on the clock, Blue Ridge elected to play for one last shot. While the Barons managed to avoid a costly turnover in that period facing a lot of pressure from Miller, a shot underneath the basket from Anderson just missed. With 2.2 seconds left in the fourth the Mavericks tried to get one last shot but a steal from Smith negated that and sent the game into overtime.

“I knew it was going to be a tough game, that they were going to give it all they had,” Anderson said. “I didn’t want it to end (with a last second shot) in fourth. The game went too fast. I wanted to win so bad, but I wanted to keep playing too.”

They did and what had been a field goal battle between Blue Ridge’s Malick Kone and Miller’s Andrew White for much of the game, all but disappeared in extra time. In fact, neither squad could get its shots to fall, inside or outside, but both found their way to the free throw line. After trading a pair of free throws (both teams missed two as well) the table was set for Holley.

“It felt like my touch was there the whole game,” Holley said. “We were hitting a lot of big shots early in the game but then got a little anxious later on. I think I finally settled down to knock it down. It was a big shot and after that all we had to do was make stops and shoot free throws.”

That’s exactly what happened. The senior’s 3-pointer from the top of the key gave Blue Ridge a 3-point lead and after a defensive stop capped by an Anderson rebound, it was back to the free throw line for the rest of the game. While the Barons missed a few down the stretch, Miller was unable to generate any more offense than a Hendrix Emu free throw.

“I’m proud of the effort we gave tonight and I think we proved that we can play with the best,” said Mavericks coach Scott Willard. “It’s taken the whole year for us to get to know one another, and I’ll go to war with anyone with this group.”

White led all scorers with 19 points on the night and also hauled in seven rebounds an doled out three assists. Janeil Jenkins poured in 11 points and also had three assists. Travis Hester, who’s first half shooting kept Blue Ridge from going up by double digits, scored nine points to go with his five boards. He also led the team in passing with four assists.

Miller (17-12) does not graduate a single senior after losing almost its entire roster last season.“We’re going to remember this through our spring, summer and fall workouts,” Willard said. “Hopefully we’ll come back with the type of intensity and will that we had tonight.”

For Blue Ridge, both Kone and Anderson finished with 18 points each. Anderson was key for Blue Ridge particularly late as the team’s center, Isaiah Battle, was unable to play the last half of the fourth quarter and all of overtime because of a gash to his mouth.

“We had to rebound and play a lot tougher after that because Isaiah brings this huge body (to the court) and he makes it easy for the rest of us to box out,” Anderson said.

Kone grabbed six rebounds while Anderson had the biggest night on the glass of any player with his 12 boards. Holley finished with 17 points fueled by a trio of 3-pointers.

The top seeded Barons are headed back to Petersburg. In both 2009 and 2010, Blue Ridge came out of the last weekend of play as VISAA Division 1 runners up, something Holley and his fellow seniors are anxious to change, but for now they’re just happy to have survived.

“I’ve been here four years,” Holley said. “We’ve been so close to it — we always get to the final four, and then to the finals. To not get to the final four in my senior year would have been devastating. There were some nerves tonight, with us playing four times and getting to know each other so well.”

The Barons (24-1) play the winner of Cape Henry Collegiate/Paul VI on Friday at 7 p.m. at Virginia State University.

Link to original article HERE.


March 1, 2011

Miller Bounces St. Christopher’s

With the way Andrew White has played all season, much less the last few games, he’s justifiably earned a box-and-one defensive scheme designed to muffle his play. St. Christopher’s threw that exact game plan at Miller, and when White hit the bench early in the first quarter because of a pair of fouls, the Saints should have been in good shape. The only problem was that they were already behind by double-digits.

Miller's Brandon Bolden had 13 points and seven rebounds in the first half of his team's playoff win over St. Christopher's.Miller’s Brandon Bolden had 13 points and seven rebounds in the first half of his team’s playoff win over St. Christopher’s.Photo: Frank Crocker

With the Mavericks leading scorer sitting out the majority of the first half, Brandon Bolden stepped up in a big way to lead Miller out to a great first half. And when White and fellow teammate Hendrix Emu — who was also in foul trouble early — both got back out on the court and found their stride, it was over — despite facing a small hurdle in the third. From start to finish Miller never flustered, and as a result they took down St. Christopher’s, 84-52 to open up the VISAA Division 1 playoffs.

“It’s a good problem to have when a team makes a run on you and you’re still up 16,” said Mavericks coach Scott Willard. “We took care of the game in the first half and then managed it well in the second.”

Bolden had a dominant first half, tallying 13 points and collecting seven rebounds between the two quarters to put the Mavericks up by 18 heading into the third.

“I felt like I had open opportunities and my team needed a boost,” Bolden said. “And I also knew Andrew would appreciate it when we got down to the locker room (at halftime).”

Whether it was tip-ins, dunks, or even a 3-pointer at the top of the key, the Georgetown commit was playing inspired basketball, much to the delight of his coach.

“Today he had an even match up and so I think he felt more comfortable,” Willard said. “He’s been working his butt off for 28 games and he’s starting to come around and we’re going to need that going forward.”

But Bolden wasn’t the lone reason Miller rolled out to a 23-9 start. With St. Christopher’s box-and-one packing it in, the Mavericks rained down one 3-pointer after another. Of their first five field goals, four came from beyond the arc with Janeil Jenkins, Chase Cannon and Devon Anderson all contributing early on, which put White at ease.

“With the box-and-one, I was a little frustrated, but didn’t panic because all the guys were hitting their shots,” White said. “The team played really well and this was supposed to be a competitive game, but we pulled away. I’m real proud of the guys because it’s not all about me in any game. This was a big opportunity for everyone and they all played well.”

In the third quarter the Saints were able to stop the bleeding, but unable to significantly chip away at the Mavericks lead. With guard Jermaine Johnson and forward Rodney Williams finding a spark, St. Christopher’s worked to within 16 points of the lead, but with White and Emu breaking the press and pounding the ball inside, and Travis Hester knocking down 3-pointers, Miller’s lead was more than safe.

“It’s playoff time and we just had to cut down on the silly stuff that we had been doing,” Bolden said. “It’s time to prove that we can play with the best and go hard out on the court.”

With the game in hand, the Mavericks subbed in their whole bench, and watched as the lead grew even more. Daniel Ginsberg buried a trio of 3-pointers, and Grayson Gunner hit a pair of his own to push the lead out to as many as 34 points.

In the end, Bolden finished with 16 points and nine rebounds. The junior sat out most of the second half with his team comfortably ahead. White managed to finish with 11 points and nine rebounds despite playing curtailed minutes as well. Hester had 10 points while Ginsberg finished with nine.

Miller now moves on to face Blue Ridge for the fourth and final time this year. The Barons have won all three meetings, but with the way his team played on Tuesday night, Willard is excited about the opportunity of seeing the familiar foe, even if the Barons are the top seed in the tournament and his team is playing a second game in as many days.

“It’s tough to play back-to-back and they have an advantage that they got to rest,” Willard said. “But we played so well today that I think it works back to our advantage. We’re coming in with confidence. We’re shooting much better and we left a lot of shots out there when we played them (in the VIC finals) on Saturday.”

The Blue Ridge and Miller quarterfinal game tips off Wednesday night at Blue Ridge at 7 p.m.

Link to original article HERE.

Written by Miller School of Albemarle

March 3, 2011 at 2:34 PM

Posted in Posts

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