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Falcons outlast Wildcats


By Robert Edmonds -- sports@nvdaily.com

FRONT ROYAL -- The struggles for Warren County continued Wednesday night when they hosted Fauquier in Evergreen District basketball play. The Wildcats entered the evening on a six-game losing skid and hoped to right the ship against the visiting Falcons after going nearly a month without a victory.

An early lead by the Falcons forced the Wildcats to play from behind and eventually became too much for Warren County to overcome as they fell in defeat 64-52.

"The thing that hurt us the most tonight was the fact that we didn't play together," Wildcats coach Vernon Mathews said. "We just weren't on the same page. We made mistakes and they got down because of it and that led to more mistakes."

Joshua Owens recorded the first score of the night when he received a pass under the basket from Joey Catalani to give the Wildcats a 2-0 lead. Fauquier had an answer to the quick bucket: an 8-0 run starting with back to back 3-point baskets by Jaire Roberts and Dillon Tapscott. Roberts completed the run driving through the lane for a reverse lay-in between two Wildcat defenders and suddenly the Falcons were ahead 8-2.

"We didn't come out with any energy," Mathews said.

Warren would respond with baskets from Blake Steele and a triple from Shivam Mehta but Roberts would again take control sparking another 8 point run to end the first quarter for the Falcons. A pair of layups by Roberts was followed by a jumper from Jeremiah Blackwell and a quick score by Caleb Lantz off an inbounds pass to give the Falcons a 19-9 lead at the end of one.

Fauquier would build their lead to as many as 14 when the Wildcats senior leader, Matt Nicholson, scored his first basket of the game midway through the second. A pass from Jontae Rollins to Nicholson seemed to put a spark into the Wildcats as they went on their own scoring stretch outdueling the Falcons 15-5 to close the margin to four points.

Five different Wildcat players scored during the run with Nicholson scoring five and Steele notching four during the streak. After a Nicholson foul shot, Fauquier would respond again. Another 3-point shot from Tapscott was quickly followed by another Falcons score.

Blackwell knocked the ball out of Nicholson's hands near midcourt and went to the basket, extending the lead to 35-26 at the break.

The Wildcats would again attempt to make a move to cut their deficit in the third quarter when Nicholson led the way scoring ten points in the quarter. Warren managed to cut the lead to five before Nicholson left the game when he injuring his ankle while scrambling for a loose ball.

"They did a nice job of getting back into the game after getting down early," Falcons coach Wayne Brizzi said. "They had some spurts of great intensity and they did a good job with the trap against us and being able to get that nice cushion early was big. We were able to hold them off just long enough."

The injury was the second to force a Wildcat player to leave the game and not return to action. Owens left the game early in the first half with a similar injury. With two starters out of the lineup and trouble controlling possession of the ball, the Wildcats slipped again on the scoreboard, this time for the remainder of the game.

"Losing two of their top three players was a big factor in the game," said Brizzi. "They are both big contributors to that team and their losses played a huge part in why we were able to keep them from getting back into the game."

Fauquier would extend their lead to 13 points in the fourth before using a delay offense to run the clock and end the hopes of Warren County snapping their losing streak.

Warren County will have little time to dwell on the loss with three games in the next five days, with the first against district opponent Brentsville Friday night.

"There is no way we are going into that game feeling like we are just walking in and getting a win," Mathews said. "We are going to have to fight for our lives and keep it close in order to have a chance to win. With a couple of our leaders injured and not knowing if and when they will be able to get back into action, we are going to need other guys to step up big."



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