In The Red Zone: Michael Rohr, New High School Football Home

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Southerner Tip-Off Classic: Patriots Get Better Of Confederates

They weren't on each other's regular season schedules.  So the only way long time rivals Lee-Davis and Patrick Henry could meet this year on the hardwood, barring post-season matchups, was by reaching the finals of this past weekend's Southerner Tip-Off Classic at Lee-Davis.

The Patrick Henry girls and boys disposed of Colonial Heights on Thursday and Friday, respectively, as Lee-Davis did to King William, and the matchups were set.

In the nightcap, the boys final was highlighted by physical play, lots of whistles, and two teams still trying to develop chemistry.  In those situations, a single player can make the difference, and Saturday night was no different.

Khalil Mock stood head and shoulders above the rest from the start, scoring 8 of his game-high 30 points in the first quarter, as Patrick Henry withstood several Lee-Davis runs to win the tournament, 63-48.  The game was closer than the 15-point final indicates.

Mock's early outburst gave PH a 15-10 lead after one, but a crucial scoreless stretch for Lee-Davis over the final 3:37 of the second allowed the Patriots to build an 11-point halftime lead at 26-15.  After Ladarein Autry's two free throws made it 21-15, the Confederates went silent until after halftime.

A William Holman trey opened the third quarter, and, after a Mock basket with 3:13 left in the period, Patrick Henry was still comfortably ahead at 38-26.  But Lee-Davis ended the third with a 6-0 run, as a Josh Brown basket cut it to 38-32 with 14 seconds left.  The Patriots seemingly forgot to try to get a shot off before the buzzer, but the ball landed in Mock's hands, and, with under two seconds to go, he launched a three, and it hit the bottom of the net.

Six unanswered from Mock to open the fourth seemed to finish things at 47-32, but Lee-Davis did cut it to seven three times in the final stanza before hit free throws in the final 90 seconds to extend the margin of victory.

Autry led the Confederates (2-1) with 20 points, followed by Brown with 14.  After Mock, Patrick Henry's leading scorer was Lucas Pienkowski with 16.  All four players were named to the All-Tournament Team, and Mock was named MVP.

"We have a whole new cast, so this is a great tournament to help us grow up," said Randy Anderson, head coach of the Patriots (2-1). "This weekend helped us to focus on not only how to keep a lead, but how to build on a lead."

For the home team, the learning curve continues for a squad short on height, but tall on grit.

"Our inexperience is still hurting; we seem to get out of the gates really slow," noted new Lee-Davis coach Rob Rice.  "We're small, but for us, playing hard will equal wins."

The Confederates already have a feather in their cap, opening their season last Tuesday with a road win over J.R. Tucker from the Colonial District on the same night Patrick Henry opened with a 38-point loss at the hands of Thomas Jefferson, easily one of the top five teams in the Central Region.

The Patriots next go to Tucker to face those same Tigers, while the Confederates get four days to practice, learn from the weekend of experience, and get ready for Capital District play when Varina visits Mechanicsville Friday night.

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In the girls final, Lee-Davis got off to a torrid start, leading 11-6 after a quarter, but the veteran Patriots settled down, taking a 27-21 lead to halftime en route to a 55-37 win.

The defining moment of the game was actually eight minutes in length, as the Patriots only allowed a Confederate free throw in a third quarter where they threw down the gauntlet and clinched the victory.

Not surprisingly, point guard Summer Price led the way with 32 points and was named tournament MVP.  Inside, Rachel Adams (who is off to a solid start defensively) and Amber Lee had five each while Ashley Samuels continued her stellar defensive start with 10 rebounds and five steals.

"We're still working on our rotation," noted PH head coach Phillip Cobb afterwards, and the Patriots have liberally used all ten players on their roster in the opening week.  Now 1-0, 3-0, the Patriots return to the Colonial Tuesday for a 6PM date with J.R. Tucker.

Lee-Davis (1-2), already suffering from early season nicks and bruises, including a sore elbow suffered by Kerstin Winston in the Patrick Henry loss, must travel across town Monday night to battle Clover Hill before opening Capital District play Friday night at Varina.

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