Good’s free throw lifts Eagles past Wildcats

FRONT ROYAL — Warren County had its home playoff fate in its hands Monday night, but couldn’t pull it out down the stretch.

Clarke County’s Hayden Good hit a free throw with 1.7 seconds left to give the Eagles a 49-48 Bull Run District boys basketball victory over the Wildcats.

“It was a one-possession game the whole way,” Clarke County coach Brent Emmart said. “We just made a couple more plays than they did down the stretch, and was fortunate to come out with a win. Tough foul shot for Good to put us by one point.”

A win by the Wildcats would have allowed them to host Skyline in a Conference 28 quarterfinal later this week. With the loss the Wildcats will now travel to Skyline on Thursday.

“If I can’t get these kids up to play against Clarke, we were up by 20 at their place. If I can’t say ‘hey, look we beat this team and we’re hosting Skyline here on Friday night,’ if they can’t get up for that, there’s no motivation in them,” Warren County coach Tony Clark said.

The Wildcats (8-14) certainly had their opportunities in the final minutes. The game was tied at 48 after a basket by Clarke County’s Good with 2:30 left. The two teams traded missed shots until the Wildcats had the ball with 52 seconds left.

They passed the ball around and Warren County’s Clyde Ritchie caught the ball inside with his back to the basket. He wasn’t being guarded but by the time he realized he was open, Clarke County defenders came over to him and Ritchie missed the layup, which was rebounded by the Eagles with 23 seconds left.

“It could have been my fault. It could have been a mix up in communication, because we definitely were looking to take the last shot,” Clark said of the play. “But we were clear if a layup came up that we needed to take a layup, and unfortunately Clyde just caught it in the paint and never really looked at the rim. Then when everybody was like gasping he turned to look at the rim and they closed down on him and he didn’t get a good shot. At that point I would have liked to have seen him pull it out.”

The Eagles (4-17) called timeout with 2.7 seconds left. Once play resumed, Clarke County’s Marc Damiano found Good under the basket. Good missed his layup attempt, but was fouled on the play. The junior missed the first free throw, but made the second one to give the Eagles the lead.

“It was an out of bounds set. (Good) came open on the backside of it,” Emmart said. “They guys executed it well. He came open and Marc Damiano did a good job delivering the pass.”

The Wildcats threw a long pass to try to score at the buzzer, but the ball went out of bounds to end the game.

The game went back and forth throughout. Warren County’s Robert Rutherford hit two 3-pointers in the first period, but the Eagles were still able to take an 11-10 lead after the first eight minutes.

The Eagles took a 22-18 lead on a 3-pointer by Damiano with 2:45 left in the second period, but Warren County’s Cam Ford brought the Wildcats back.

The junior scored 11 points in the second period to help tie the game at 24 at the half. One of the keys in the first half for the Eagles was rebounding. Clarke County out-rebounded Warren County, 20-5, in the opening half.

“That’s 15 extra possessions right there,” Clark said. “That’s a tie ball game. They kind of hurt us on the boards.”

Warren County grabbed a four-point lead on two occasions in the third period. Warren County’s Brendan McMackin hit a shot to make it 34-30 with 2:18 left in the third. The Eagles responded with a 7-2 run, aided by a 3-pointer from Damiano.

The Wildcats took the lead right back to end the third period on a 3-pointer by Marqwon Haley for a 39-37 advantage.

The fourth period was more of the same. The Eagles took a 44-41 lead on a 3-pointer by Good, but the Wildcats responded with a 7-2 run. Ford capped it off with a steal and a layup, and then made a free throw after being fouled on the play with 2:55 left in the game for a 48-46 lead.

The Eagles were led by Good with 16 points and Damiano with 14 points. Clarke County will play Thursday at George Mason in the Conference 35 tournament semifinals. The Eagles already have a Region 2A East berth, as four teams advance to regionals from each conference.

“We played a tough game against (George) Mason the other night, and we wanted to come in here and try to piggy back that,” Emmart said. “We played well against (George Mason) so we just wanted to come in here, try to put two games together and were fortunate to get a win. … We’re in (regionals) now so we’re just trying to get better every game, every practice leading up to that. One day at a time, one game at a time is basically what we’re looking at.”

Ford led the Wildcats with 16 points and three steals, and Rutherford added 15 points and five rebounds. Clark said that the Wildcats just have to get ready for rival Skyline on Thursday. The two teams split their two meetings this season.

“The good thing about it is, I might not be all to motivate these kids to beat Clarke so they can host here, but I don’t have to motivate them to go beat Skyline,” Clark said. “That’s just one of those rivalries where it’s easy for me as a coach. I don’t have to bring out my quotes and my books and everything. They’re motivated already.”

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

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