Chargers advance to state basketball tournament as Region A runner-up
|The Middlesex High Chargers display their Region B runner-up trophy following a tough 50-46 loss to Essex Saturday night in the championship game at Lancaster. From left ate Davonne Bryant, Jeromy Rich, Cody Hunter, Markus Hammond, Kris Baylor, Michael Bess, Ryheem Lockley, Jeremiah Morris, Stanley Redmon, Donovan Jones, Scott Payne, Tayvon Morning and Sean Sutherlin. Blocked from view is Jasper Smith.|
Lose 50-46 to Essex in region title game;
play Buckingham Saturday in state quarterfinals
by Tom Hardin
There are only eight teams that still have a chance of winning the State Group A Division 2 Championship, and Middlesex is one one them.
|If you missed the game, the audio slideshow above will make you feel like you were there. Just press play!|
The Middlesex game will be broadcast on WKWI 101.7 FM radio by sportscasters Demetrious Means and Carroll Lee Ashburn.
Region B champion Essex (12-5) will host Region B runner-up Dan River at 5:30 p.m. following the Middlesex game.
Region A girls champion Lancaster will play Buckingham at 2 p.m. in a quarterfinal prior to the Middlesex game.
Middlesex (12-9) reached the Region A title game by defeating King William 75-61 and Arcadia 62-57. Essex (12-5) upset previously undefeated Lancaster 67-65 to make the finals.
Both the tournament champion and runner-up automatically qualified for the state tournament.
Before a packed house Saturday night at Lancaster High. the Trojans of Essex held off a feisty Middlesex team in the final minutes to secure their first Region A title since 1984.
The Chargers led throughout the first quarter, but once the Trojans took a 12-11 lead early in the second quarter they never trailed again.
Essex opened its largest lead of the game, 39-30, early in the fourth quarter, but the Chargers stormed back behind Michael Bess and Ryheem Lockley to to cut the lead to 39-36 with 6:26 to play.
The Chargers got within two points (40-38) on two Bess free throws with 4:52 to play, but the Trojans responded with two baskets to go ahead 44-38 with 4:34 to play.
Bess hit his fourth 3-pointer of the game with 3:43 to play to cut the Trojan lead to 44-41.
The two teams then went almost three minutes without scoring.
Essex’s Adarius Booker scored with 55 seconds left to play to end the drought and give the Trojans a 46-41 lead.
Middlesex’s Cody Hunter made a layup off a steal with 28 seconds left to cut the margin to 46-43.
After a free throw by Curtis Johnson pushed the Trojan lead to 47-43, Hunter drove the baseline for a layup to cut the lead to 47-45 with 16 seconds remaining.
With the near-capacity crowd on its feet, Essex’s Cedric Thorne then threw the inbounds pass the length of the court to DeVante Baker, who dunked the ball for a 49-45 Trojan lead.
The Chargers quickly moved the ball up-court and Lockley was fouled with 8 seconds to play. The freshman All-Region A forward made one of two free throws to cut the Essex lead to 49-46.
The Chargers were forced to foul and Essex’s Deon Hammond made one of two free throws with 5 seconds remaining to ice the 50-46 win.
“Essex is a talented and well-coached team,” said MHS coach Patrick Weller. “It was a hard-fought game as both teams played pretty well on the defensive end and forced the other team out of what they like to do on offense. We did a much better job in the second half getting the ball inside and getting to the free throw line.
“In the fourth quarter we certainly had our chances,” continued Weller. “We made several key steals on the defensive end but just couldn’t come up with the key baskets on the other end.
“Our guys played extremely hard. As a coach, that’s all I can ask of them and I told them that,” said Weller. “I am very proud of the effort they gave and they should feel the same way.”
Deon Hammond of Essex was named tournament MVP. He scored 9 points. Curtis Johnson led Essex with 16 points and Devante Baker added 11.
Bess paced MHS with 17 points, Lockley added 14, Hunter had 8, Jeremiah Morris 4, Tayvon Morning 2, and Davonne Bryant 1.
Lockley had 10 rebounds, Bess collected 6, Morris had 4 and Hunter 3.
The stifling Trojan defense forced 19 Middlesex turnovers, and the Chargers shot only 35% from the field. Middlesex made only four field goals in the second half, two 3-pointers by Bess and two layups by Hunter.
The Chargers converted 18 of 23 free throws, including 15 of 17 in the second half.
The last time the Chargers played in a state boys basketball tournament was in 1999 when they lost to Strasburg in the quarterfinals.
The Chargers finished second in the state tournament in 1989 when they defeated JJ Kelly and James River before losing to Fluvanna in the title game.