King, Wildcats topple Cougars

Warren County's Clyde Ritchie penetrates inside the lane as Manassas Park's Drew Lucas defends during first half boys basketball action Monday night in Front Royal. Rich Cooley/Daily

FRONT ROYAL — Warren County’s Austin King felt like his outside shot was on even during warm-ups. Once the game started, and Manassas Park used a zone defense, his shot was feeling even better.

King knocked down four shots from beyond the arc to lead the Wildcats to a 45-31 Bull Run District boys basketball victory over the Cougars on Monday night.

“We were moving the ball around and I got open shots and they started falling,” King said. “My shot was just feeling good tonight, I noticed it even in warm-ups.”

The Cougars (1-8, 0-7 Bull Run) used a 2-3 zone for part of the game, and Warren County coach Vernon Mathews said that helped King out even more.

“Austin’s our zone buster,” Mathews said. “This was his kind of game.”

Warren County's Joseph Rutherford tosses a hook pass over Manassas Park's Benjamin Foster, left, and Clinton Boxley, right, during first half boys basketball action Monday night in Front Royal. Rich Cooley/Daily

The Wildcats (3-8, 3-4 Bull Run) held a 25-21 lead at the half, and Warren County pulled away for good at the start of the third period.

Warren County’s Clyde Ritchie his a jumper and then King and Cameron Ford hit back-to-back 3-pointers for an 8-0 run and a 33-21 lead with 6:12 left in the third period.

“We talked at halftime about trying to have a big third quarter and widen the gap between them and us,” Mathews said. “If we let it stay close it was going to be a dogfight to the end. …I thought the kids responded well.”

The two teams traded baskets the rest of the period as the Wildcats held a 39-27 edge.

Warren County slowed things down in the fourth period, passing the ball around against both Manassas Park’s zone and man-to-man defenses.

The Wildcats didn’t make a basket in the final eight minutes, but went 6-for-8 from the free-throw line.

Warren County held Manassas Park to only 10 points in the second half.

“We did a much better job of boxing out and not giving them second chances,” Mathews said. “We were talking more on defense. We did a much better job in the second half of slowing them up.”

The Cougars raced out to a 6-2 lead, but a King 3-pointer and two free throws by Robert Rutherford helped the Wildcats tie the game at 8-8 after the first period.

Manassas Park’s Marcus Lawson gave Manassas Park its last lead of the game at 10-8 to start the second period.

Another King 3-pointer and a basket by Rutherford fueled a 12-2 spurt to give the Wildcats a 20-12 lead with 3:23 left in the first half.

The Cougars battled back with a 9-2 run to cut the lead to 22-21. However, a 3-pointer buzzer-beater by Ford gave the Wildcats a four-point cushion at the half.

King finished with 12 points, on 4-for-8 shooting from 3-point range. Ford had eight points for the Wildcats.

Manassas Park was led by 15 points from Marquez Mallisham.

The Wildcats have struggled some this season, but the win over the Cougars could be just what they need to get things moving in the right direction.

“I think this win can help us,” King said. “I think we were clicking a little bit better out there. It’s been a tough start to the season for us. We want to take this and try to get on a roll.”

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com