Going into Thursday night, all eyes were on Patrick Henry girls basketball as they prepared to face Highland Springs in a battle of unbeatens in the first round of the T-DIT Tournament.
By night's end, the Patriots were licking their wounds and another game took center stage in an overtime thriller.
Summer Price led PH with 14 points, who fell hopelessly behind, committing 21 first half turnovers due to a withering full-court pressure defense by the Springers (4-0). The final, 72-43, was Patrick Henry's largest margin of defeat in at least two years.....
The Patriots (8-1) will now face Colonial District foe Deep Run, who lost to St. Catherine's 54-43, tonight at 6pm at St. Christopher's. The game will not count in district standings. A win puts PH in the consolation game at 12noon Saturday, a loss means they play in the 5th place game at 9am. Saturday's game will be played at the Siegel Center.
This reporter arrived to Hermitage High following the Patriots game to find a 12-12 tie in boys hoops action late in the first quarter. I settled in, and watched an excellent game unfold.
Atlee looked nothing like a team on a seven-game losing streak, and Hermitage was not playing up to the potential they showed last week in their fourth-quarter comeback win over Patrick Henry in Ashland. The Raiders were pleased to take a 34-30 halftime lead to the locker room and came out strong in the second half, despite the foul totals piling up all around them.
A Quincy Randolf basket with 11 seconds left in the third gave Atlee what would be their biggest lead at 8 points, 52-44. But credit Hermitage for a quick resurgence early in the fourth, going on a 7-0 run to make it 56-55 with 4 minutes to play. Brian Miller sank four straight free throws in a nearly two minute stretch and the Raider defense clamped down on the Panthers, building a 60-55 edge with 2:23 to go.
Hermitage answered with five points of their own to tie the game at 1:54 left. An Atlee shot at an easy fast break layup was mishandled and Hermitage took over, but couldn't convert, and, when Miller hit two more free throws with 1:15 left, it was 62-60 Atlee.
25 seconds later, again, Miller reached the charity stripe. This time, though, he couldn't convert on the front end of a one-and-one, and Hermitage took full advantage. Nico Johnson's drive to the hoop drew a foul, and, with 25 seconds left in regulation, Johnson calmly sank both free throws to tie the game at 62-62.
The Raiders set up a play for the game-winning shot, and, after multiple attempts to drive, Miller found an opening, got inside the lane, but his running floater at the buzzer bounced off the front of the rim.
Atlee, who lost one player to fouls in the 4th, lost two more in overtime, severely hampering the rotation. Hermitage took its first lead since the first half 18 seconds into the extra session. Atlee spent most of the overtime playing the role of Hermitage, keep pacing but not overcoming the deficit.....until, when Miller's two-pointer tied the game at 68-68 with 1:52 left.
From there, the Panthers went on their final run, getting two baskets on tip-ins, rebounding the ball on Atlee at the offensive end at will, to built a 72-69 lead. The Raiders cut it to one on free throws with 26 seconds left. Nico Johnson hit one of two free throws and it was 73-71, 18 seconds were left, and Atlee had the ball.
Brian Miller calmly brought the ball into the frontcourt, Atlee ran their offensive, trying to get Miller loose for a jumper, but the Panthers wisely kept him in check, and, when his desperation shot wedged between the rim and the backboard as the buzzer sounded, the game ended in a thud, literally and figuratively.
Frustrations were high as the Raiders left the Hermitage court knowing they let one get away in a season where, especially in their district, wins will be hard to come by. Miller led the Raiders with 26 points, but certainly wishes he was better than 7-for-13 at the charity stripe. Rashaun Winters added 16 points and played great late-game defense in spite of being hampered with four fouls.
Atlee, now 1-8, rest for Christmas, then return to practice to prepare for a game at St. Christopher's on Friday, December 28th. The Saints rolled over Thomas Jefferson 67-38 Thursday in the first round of the boys bracket of the T-DIT.
The Atlee girls also fell at Hermitage Thursday night, losing 73-61.
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