By Brian Eller - firstname.lastname@example.org
STEPHENS CITY - Watching his team's opponent during warm-ups Monday night, Shenandoah Valley Christian Academy coach Ron Combs decided his squad wouldn't have to worry too much about stopping the 3-point shot but would need to focus its defensive attack on the inside.
The Patriots' offense, on the other hand, lived on the outside shot, and used a 3-point barrage to defeat Massanutten Military Academy, 80-58.
"We relied too much on the 3-ball and didn't get our offense the way I wanted it to," Combs said. "[On defense] we ran a little full court man-to-man and press with my quickest bunch of kids, and I was real happy about that. We've still got to discipline ourselves to run the offense, but overall anytime you get the 'W,' we're happy with the 'W.'"
In all, the Patriots took 24 shots from behind the 3-point arc, connecting on nine of them, to help jump out to a 16-13 lead after one quarter. Ethan McGann started off hot for SVCA, going 4-of-4 from the field in the first quarter and scoring 10 of his 20 points to give the Patriots the early cushion.
In the second quarter SVCA widened its lead, as guard Jake Tolley, who led all shooters with six 3-pointers, had seven points in the quarter to give the Patriots a four-point edge. The Colonels held tough, however, as the duo of Landon Brown and Jarrett King kept Massanutten within striking distance heading into halftime. Brown shot 4-of-6 from the floor in the second quarter, while King added seven points of his own.
"I'll tell ya, in watching them in warm-ups I didn't think they were a really good 3-point shooting team," Combs said, "but they've got some good athletes and I couldn't convince my kids to let them stand out there and shoot. We didn't do a very good job of that. But [Brown] and [King], they're very good athletes."
Despite Brown and King's ability to score for the Colonels, their strongest assets came on the defensive end, as their size and skill level seemed to intimidate the Patriots from attacking down low in the post, forcing them to take a 3-point field goal attempt on almost every possession.
Fortunately for the Patriots, most of their long-range shots fell in, as SVCA used a 25-point third quarter to balloon its lead to double digits. Tolley began to gain confidence from the perimeter, scoring 13 points in the quarter and connecting on 3-of-4 attempts from 3-point range.
"At times, yes, we were relying on [the 3-pointer] a lot," Tolley said. "I don't know what the stats were during the game on how many we took, but it was a lot. I think we needed to penetrate, dish and work out of our offense a little more. There was definitely a little hesitation [to go inside] because those boys can jump, but overall we did pretty well."
In the fourth quarter the Patriots cooled a bit on offense, but were able to hold on for the win despite Brown's 12 points in the period for the Colonels. Tolley finished with a game-high 28 points, helping his team improve to 6-1 on the year.
"We played well," Tolley said. "We actually shared the ball really well, but we need to crash the boards a whole lot better. We didn't box out and stuff like that, so we're probably going to work on that tomorrow."