Ford, Wildcats hold off Falcons
WOODSTOCK – Warren County sophomore Cameron Ford hit some big shots for the Wildcats on Friday night against host Central. It was only fitting that he was the one to step to the free-throw line with a chance to secure the win.
With the Wildcats trying to fend off a fourth-quarter rally by the Falcons, Ford connected on two free throws to give Warren County a 63-60 lead with four seconds remaining. Central’s desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer was well off the mark, giving the Wildcats the Bull Run District win.
“I just really tried to block [the crowd] out because I knew they were going to start yelling stuff. It was a lot of pressure, but I just seemed to handle it all right,” said Ford, who finished with a game-high 21 points.
Ford’s deft shooting touch was key for Warren County (4-10, 4-6 Bull Run) on Friday night, as his 11 first-quarter points and two third-quarter 3-pointers helped the Wildcats build what would eventually become a 14-point lead in the fourth period.
But Central rallied.
Trailing 52-38 with 5:44 to play, the Falcons (6-8, 4-6) got back into the game with a with a 10-2 run that was spurred on by five points from freshman Bryan Davis and capped by Sam Barbour’s fast-break bucket in the paint.
Warren County, which made only 10 of 20 free throws in the win, missed the front end of two one-and-one free throw opportunities and turned the ball over three times during the Falcons’ run.
“You’ve got to make free throws at the end of the game and you can’t turn over the ball like that,” Wildcats coach Vernon Mathews said. “It was probably one of the best offensive games we’ve had all year, especially in the first half. I thought we shot the ball really well, executed our offense. But they stayed pretty close.
“We came out really strong in the third quarter and we started to pull away, which is good because we ended up needing it.”
Wildcats senior D’andre Lawrence and Barbour traded buckets to keep the Falcons’ deficit at six points before Warren County’s Clyde Ritchie connected on two free throws to extend his team’s lead to 58-50 with 1:40 play.
Central junior Jimmy Rodriguez then delivered a 3-pointer to pull the Falcons within five points with 1:30 left. Free throws by Ritchie and Patrick Cockrell over the next 40 seconds gave the Wildcats a 61-53 lead, but Rodriguez delivered again when he banked in a deep 3 to pull Central back within five points with 31 seconds to play.
“He’s been earning his time in practice and earning trust every time he steps on the floor,” Falcons head coach Brandon Shields said of Rodriguez. “He’s kind of a spark plug for us at times and I thought he did a good job defensively as well on the Ford kid. He gave us a spark, almost gave us a chance to win the game.”
Coming out of a timeout, Davis swiped a steal on the inbound pass and made two free throws after drawing a foul, and Austin Fadely scored on a driving layup to cut Warren County’s lead to 61-60 in the final 10 seconds.
Ford answered with his free throws, and Fadely’s running 3-point attempt clanged off the backboard.
“We almost dug ourselves out of it, we just didn’t have quite enough time on the clock left. We needed another minute or two on the clock,” Shields said.
“I don’t think we did the little things very well. We had some potential swings in the game where things could’ve kind of gone a different way if we’d have done the little things better — box out free throws, take a better angle on a pass, make a layup, make an open 3. I thought we had plenty of opportunities to pull away when it was still close … but we just didn’t execute. And they did.”
Led by Ford, Warren County shot 50 percent in the first half en route to building a 32-26 halftime lead. While the Wildcats did hit seven 3-pointers in the win, a lot of damage was done inside arc for Warren County.
Ford scored multiple times in the first period on drives to the bucket, and forwards Lawrence (17 points, 10 rebounds) and Robert Rutherford (13 points, 14 rebounds) each finished with double-doubles. Warren County shot 44.2 percent (23 for 52) from the field.
“We talk about working inside out and tonight we actually did it,” Mathews said.
Fadely — who was the focal point of Warren County’s box-and-one all night — was one of four Falcons to score 11 points in the loss, as he was joined by Barbour (three rebounds), Davis and Joey McConkey (three rebounds).
Central shot 39.7 percent (23 for 58) from the floor, including a 6-for-25 mark from 3.
Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or email@example.com