- Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 February 2011 15:51
- Published on Wednesday, 16 February 2011 15:51
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On Monday evening, within the hostile confines of James Monroe High School, the two best boys’ junior varsity teams in the Battlefield District battled for the coveted 2010-2011 Boys’ Junior Varsity Basketball Championship. In the end, the Foxes dominated the Yellow Jackets for four quarters, leaving no doubt they have the best program.
The 55-47 victory over their district nemesis was nothing short of thrilling from beginning to end. Prior to Monday night’s championship game, the Foxes defeated the Yellow Jackets 61-57 on Friday night, during the final regular season game of the year. In light of splitting
regular season victories, both teams were equally matched in talent — but to the dismay of the Yellow Jackets, the Foxes brought their A-game Monday night.
“It was tough one,” King George head coach Neil Lyburn said. “I knew we had kids that could come out and perform. I told them at the beginning of the year, let’s make it to the JV championship. When I walked into the locker room today, I told them, ‘We made our goal, but its not over, now you have to win it’ — and the kids came out and played their hearts out.”
Whether it’s football or basketball, Lyburn has a reputation for getting the best out of his players. To date, Lyburn has won three out of his last four junior varsity basketball championships. With a roster filled with athletes who have the capability of starting for any junior varsity rival roster, the transition to the varsity program should smooth sailing for most of current players.
In the first quarter, the Foxes opened up with a 16-3 run, with Justin Brown leading the way with two free throws, an assist and a lay-up. After remaining scoreless for 2 minutes and 10 seconds, the Yellow Jackets responded with a jumper and free throw from Tony Scott. Anthony Howard and Keenan Frye extended the Foxes’ lead to 16-3, with two lay-ups and a fast break lay-up, respectively.
In a last gasp attempt to rally, James Monroe went on a 4-0 run with less than 30 seconds left in the quarter, cutting the Fox lead to 16-7.
With the partisan Yellow Jacket crowd screaming from bleacher to bleacher, both teams exchanged baskets to start the second quarter. However, the Foxes capitalized on a Yellow Jacket scoring drought that lasted for 2 minutes and 17 seconds. After 4-0 run, the Yellow Jackets stifled the Foxes offense with a press defense that yielded three turnovers. With momentum swinging slightly toward James Monroe, Byran Johnson led his team on a 6-2 run, cutting the Fox deficit to 9 points with 1:48 left to play in the half.
Howard extended the Foxes lead to 30-17 with three free throws, and a 3-point buzzer beater just before halftime.
Although the Yellow Jack defensive press affected the Foxes in spurts, King George was able to prevail using point guard De’Shon Brown to penetrate at will through the network of Yellow Jacket traps.
Sensing urgency with the clock slowly becoming a factor, the Yellow Jackets shifted to all or nothing physical style of defense at the start of the third quarter. After pressing and constantly tying up Fox ball handlers, the Yellow Jackets finally began to see the fruits of their labor as Marcus Finnie and Tony Scott combined for a four points, cutting the Fox lead to 30-21, with 5:28 left in the quarter.
The Foxes bravely responded with muscles of their own, as Howard penetrated the Yellow Jacket front court with a lay-up that was later followed with a short-ranged jumper from Jacob Baker. Midway through the quarter, the Foxes’ offense caught fire with runs of 4-0, and 5-0. The key intangible within the Fox court leadership was Brown, who constantly pushed the ball up the gut of the Yellow Jacket press defense.
Although the Foxes started the fourth quarter with alley-oop pass from Brown to Baker, they struggled at the foul line. As for the Yellow Jackets, they responded with a 6-0 run at 4:21. Not to be outdone, the Foxes responded with a jumper by Jamonte Parker, and fast break lay-up by Keenan Frye to extend their lead to 50-36.
Although James Monroe managed two more baskets, compliments of Julian Bumbrey and Tony Scott, the Foxes defense slowly began to suffocate any hope of a miracle rally.
Howard would later lead Fox scoring with 21 points, while Brown would add 11 points. Scott led the Yellow Jackets with 17 points, with Johnson adding 9 points.
“Friday night we came out with a point to prove, and tonight we came out knowing were not going to lose — we are winners,” Lyburn said. “Our slogan all season long was all together; we win together, we lose together, because we’re all together.”
During the first round (quarterfinals) of the Battlefield District playoff the following team results were recorded: King George over Spotsylvania, 75-51; James Monroe over Chancellor, 67-53; Culpeper over Eastern View, 58-47; Courtland over Caroline, 69-59. King George will play in the semi-finals on Wednesday, at Caroline High School. Game time will occur after the first game that is scheduled for 6 p.m.