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HILLSVILLE –– A lot of things had to go right for Carroll County in its first meeting against Patrick Henry if the Cavaliers were to hang on to sole possession of the River Ridge District lead.
Unfortunately for the home team, the only thing that fell in the general direction of Carroll County’s way Friday night was a band of winter participation.
With a steady snow falling outside, a steady stream of Cavalier turnovers and PH layups propelled the Group 6A Patriots to a 66-45 boys’ basketball win. The loss was the first in RRD play for Carroll County, which dropped to 11-3 overall and 6-1 in the league, a half-game behind Patrick Henry (11-3, 6-0).
Playing their fourth game of the week, the Patriots were no worse for wear and used a stifling man-to-man defense to throttle the explosive Cavalier offense.
“They are much more athletic than we are and they took us out of everything we were trying to do,” said Carroll County coach Brad Hawks. “Defensive pressure just slowed us down. It was hard for us to get into our sets, they just outplayed us.”
The Cavaliers trailed just 28-21 at halftime before a disastrous third period all but sealed the win for Patrick Henry. Carroll County misfired on its first six field goal attempts and went just 2-of-9 in the third while leaving a half-dozen points on the floor in the form of missed free throws.
The Patriots hit 8-of-12 from the floor in the third quarter, including three 3-pointers. With Carroll down 33-24, Cavalier point guard Gunnar Beamer left the floor to get an ankle taped about the same time that athletic wing Cody Keith picked up his third foul, and Patrick Henry took advantage with a 10-4 run to a 43-28 lead.
“Players make plays, and they had players that did that tonight,” Hawks said.
Six of the points came in transition off of steals, and Kendrick Tucker capped the spurt with a 3-pointer. He finished with 16 points. Christian Kirchman, who led all scorers with 20 points, beat the third-quarter horn with a trey from the top to send the Patriots into the fourth quarter with a 48-34 lead.
Tyler Pollard’s stickback to open the fourth widened the PH lead to 50-31 before the Cavaliers finally strung together a run, getting a Beamer 3-pointer, a Keith layup and enough foul shots to close to within 52-39. Carroll County had a 3-point attempt to pull to within 10 points rim out and the Patriots held the Cavaliers scoreless the final 1:33, dropping in three uncontested layups off of steals to balloon the final margin to 21 points.
“We did some very, very uncharacteristic things,” Hawks said. “Turnovers were the big thing. I’m not sure how many we had. Way, way, way to many. How many layup chances did we give up? Free throw opportunities?”
Carroll finished with 21 turnovers, all but four coming via steals by the quick-handed Patriots. Duncan Reece, who also had nine rebounds, scored 10 points by going 8-for-12 from the free throw line while the Cavaliers were otherwise a mere 11-of-21 from the stripe.
Connor Lundy led the Cavaliers with 14 points, including two first-half 3-pointers, but his scoring was limited to three free throws after halftime.
“He’s been playing really really well, been able to get by people, rise up and shoot threes over guys, but he had a little leg trouble this week,” said Hawks. “It was just a tough match-up for him. He’s been dealing with turf toe from football and it’s something with the shin now.”
Carroll County has a week to work through the loss before returning to action Friday at Blacksburg.
“We definitely need a few days to regroup,” said Hawks.
Patrick Henry.......12 16 20 18––66
Carroll County........9 12 10 14––45
Patrick Henry (11-3, 6-0)
Pollard 5 3-6 13, Esworthy 2 0-1 5, Terry 2 5-6 9, Kirchman 8 0-0 20, Tucker 7 1-2 16, Stockstill 1 0-0 3, Ogden 0 0-0 0. Totals 25 9-15 66.
Carroll County (11-3, 6-1)
Beamer 3 2-2 9, Lundy 3 6-9 14, Keith 2 1-4 5, Giles 2 1-2 6, Dalton 0 1-2 1, Reece 1 8-12 10. Totals 11 19-31 45.
Three-point field goals – Patrick Henry 7-14 (Kirchman 4, Esworthy, Tucker, Stockstill), Carroll County 4-10 (Lundy 2, Beamer, Giles). Rebounds – Patrick Henry 34 (Pollard 11), Carroll County 26 (Reece 9). Turnovers – Patrick Henry 18, Carroll County 21. Team fouls – Patrick Henry 18, Carroll County 15. Fouled out – Ogden, Keith. Technical fouls – Kirchman.