By Robert Edmonds - firstname.lastname@example.org
STEPHENS CITY -- Shenandoah Valley Christian Academy led from start to finish Thursday night when they hosted the Stars from Shenandoah Valley Academy in boys basketball action.
Despite never leading during the game, the Stars did not go down without a fight as the Patriots staked claim to a 71-54 victory.
"They are a really quick team and were very good penetrating on offense," Patriots coach Ron Combs said. "They made some good adjustments at halftime and we didn't adjust well to their 1-2-2 defense. We did play pretty well on defense and that certainly made a difference."
After taking the lead to start the game, the Patriots went on a 10-0 run in the second period led by Mamadou Sakho and Brandon Pressley to widen the gap to 16 points when the teams broke for intermission.
Sakho and Pressley hit a pair of jump shots to start the run. After Sakho knocked down two shots from the free-throw line, Pressley scored on an assist from Shai Butler while streaking down the lane. Sakho then scored on a lay-in under the basket to end the run.
When the two teams retook the floor to start the second half, it was the Stars that came out hot as they quickly cut the lead in half midway through the third period. After remaining silent for much of the first half, Nelson Gonzalez burst out of the gate.
The guard hit a shot in the lane and then followed with a three-point play on SVA's next possession when he was fouled while shooting during a drive to the basket. Wander Pimentel also got into the scoring act for the Stars with five consecutive points. Pimentel connected on a 3-pointer and added a floater in the lane and the Stars were suddenly in business.
"SVCA is a good team and had a large advantage in height," Stars coach Joshua Jetter said. "We knew that coming in, but our team showed heart. They overcame adversity and responded. Our seniors really stepped up and showed leadership in getting the younger guys in the game and staying poised despite trailing on the scoreboard."
Nick Mamedes' 3-point basket brought SVA as close as they would get on the night at 37-29.
The Patriots quickly awakened from the outburst behind Robin Moore, who took charge late. Moore scored 8 of his 21 points during the fourth quarter.
The Stars resorted to fouling as the fourth quarter came to a close, but the Patriots were good enough to connect on 9 of 18 shots from the foul line to hold off the Stars.
Moore closed the game with a reverse dunk to electrify the crowd and seal the victory.
"Pape [Mor Sall] made his presence felt inside and did a nice job blocking shots on defense," Combs said. "We have some good players on this team. We didn't even get them all in the game tonight, but we are working on the team chemistry.
"That is my challenge in trying to learn the players and getting them to mesh. There was no problem with effort. It's just learning who goes where."