Falcons use all-around effort to top Panthers

WOODSTOCK – After letting Rappahannock County hang around in Central’s win in the schools’ first meeting just before Christmas break, the Falcons’ boys basketball team opted to make some defensive changes ahead of their second matchup with the Panthers on Thursday night.

Utilizing multiple defensive schemes, the Falcons held Rappahannock County to a 36-percent shooting mark from the field and forced the Panthers into 18 turnovers while soaring to a 79-57 Bull Run District victory.

“We defended a little bit better tonight,” said Falcons head coach Brandon Shields, whose Falcons topped Rappahannock County 84-76 in the schools’ first meeting on Dec. 22.

“We had that 1-3-1 [zone] in tonight. I think that kind of busted the game open a little bit for us. We threw some different things at them tonight that we didn’t really throw at them last time we played. … They may not have been as prepared for them, caught them off guard a little bit and that kind of got us some easy buckets. I think that kind of helped.”

Central (6-5, 4-4 Bull Run) backed up its defensive effort on Thursday with efficient offensive production. Eleven different players scored points for the Falcons, who shot 45.9 percent (28 for 61) from the field in the victory.

“We were just making our shots and outworking, out-hustling them,” said Falcons junior forward Kobi Hoover, who finished with 13 points and was one of four Central players to score in double digits.

“Everybody was just ready to go and pumped up for this game.”

The Falcons raced out to a big lead early, as they ended the first period on a 14-0 run that sent Central into the second period with a 25-8 lead.

Back-to-back 3-pointers by Falcons senior Sam Barbour and Hoover gave Central an 11-3 lead four minutes into the game, but Rappahannock County (2-8, 0-8) countered with a trey by Jackson Strickler and a bucket on the low block by Gavin Jenkins.

The Panthers ran into trouble, however, when senior forward Walter Frye had to take a seat on the bench after committing his second foul with nearly three minutes left in the first quarter.

Frye’s absence in the paint opened the door for Central junior guard Austin Fadely, who used his driving ability to power the Falcons’ 14-point run. Fadely scored or assisted on the Falcons’ final 17 points of the first period and finished the frame with 12 points.

“[Frye’s] their biggest defensive threat, in my opinion, and when he was out of the game I realized there was no one really on the inside lane that could stop my penetration,” said Fadely, who led Central with 18 points, eight assists and six rebounds.

“We were looking for good shots,” Fadely added. “We kept getting to the rim, which was huge. Getting into the lane, kicking out for 3s, which are our best shots, those dish-in, dish-out 3s. We just worked for the best shot and that’s what we got. That’s why they were falling.”

Frye’s return to the floor in the second period gave a spark to the Panthers, as he hit a pair of 3-pointers during a 15-6 Rappahannock County run that ended when Joshua Racer’s 3-pointer cut Central’s lead to 31-23 with 2:15 left in the first half.

Shortly after Frye returned to the bench with his third foul, the Falcons responded with a 3-pointer by Hoover, and four points by Barbour and a bucket in the waning seconds by Fadely capped a 9-0 run to end the half for Central, who led 40-23 at the break.

“I think we did a good job of extending the lead when we needed to and making shots at the right times, making right decisions,” Shields said. “I feel like we put them away. We did a better job of doing that.”

Central maintained a comfortable cushion while outscoring the Panthers 18-12 in the third period, and the Falcons’ lead ballooned to as much as 25 points in the fourth period.

Falcons senior forward Joseph McConkey (four rebounds) scored 11 of his 15 points in the fourth period, while Barbour finished with 12 points for Central. Senior guard Brady Baker led the Falcons with three steals while chipping in five points.

Though limited by foul trouble, Frye still led the Panthers with 18 points. Jenkins added 12 points for Rappahannock County.

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or bfauber@nvdaily.com