Falcons topple Cougars in season opener

WOODSTOCK – Central has a blend of old and new players on this year’s team and the group meshed together well in the season opener on Wednesday night.

The Falcons knocked off Manassas Park, 59-35, in non-district boys basketball action.

“There were moments where we weren’t playing our best basketball, but together as a team we picked it up and started playing team basketball,” Central senior Austin Fadely said. “Our shots started flowing. Guys started getting stuff in rhythm which ultimately let us get on a big run and end up sealing the game.”

Central went 4-for-15 from the free-throw line in the first half, which allowed Manassas Park to keep the game close. The Cougars scored the first five points of the third period to cut Central’s lead to 23-19.

The Falcons then began to play better basketball and used a 17-6 run to take control of the game.

Central junior point guard Ian Pugh, who transferred this year from Stonewall Jackson, converted a conventional three-point play, and Luke Estep drilled back-to-back 3-pointers to start the spurt.

“When we got in transition, which is when we’re at our best, we can kind of turn rebounds and steals into layups and open 3’s,” Central coach Brandon Shields said. “That’s what we want to do. We want to shoot layups free throws and 3’s. When we did that things went well.”

After a layup by Central senior Kobi Hoover, Fadely capped off the big run with back-to-back 3-pointers for a 40-25 lead with 59 seconds left in the third period.

“I just shot the ball in rhythm, and my teammates were hitting me in rhythm,” Fadely said. “I was able to get the ball and get good looks at the basket because of my teammates screening and sealing off.”

Fadely finished with a game-high 15 points, while Pugh had 14 points, 3 assists and two steals.

Fadely said Pugh taking over the point guard spot has really helped him and the whole team.

“It’s such a huge benefit, because I don’t have the pressure of being the only one to dribble the ball. I have space, now I can run the floor and look for my open shot. And he’s a great facilitator. He’ll hit me on my shots. He’ll hit our other teammates on their shots. He’s just a great energy and spark to our team.”

Estep finished with 10 points and Varsey Bright had eight points off the bench for the Falcons.

“Varsey and Luke really stepped up, and this was their first varsity experience. So I was really proud of the way they played,” Shields said. “They played hard and good things happened for them. Varsey got out in transition. Luke really attacked the rim well.”

Manassas Park was led by Clinton Boxley with 10 points. Hoover had seven points and seven rebounds for Central.

Shields said that he was very happy with the effort his team played with.

“I thought we did a really good job of playing hard no matter what the situation. When we were playing well, we played hard. When it got ugly, we still played hard. And that’s more than half the battle right there — just playing hard no mater what’s going on. Hopefully, that can start translating and we can build from game one.”

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