WOODSTOCK – Four seconds into the second half of Thursday night’s regular-season finale against visiting Bristol Prep, Massanutten Military Academy’s postgrad team purposefully committed a foul to give its five starters a chance to step off their home court for the last time this season.
It was a luxury the Colonels could easily afford. By that point, they were leading the shorthanded Pacers by 36, and MMA’s reserves – who had already seen extensive action in a lopsided first half – closed out a 106-45 win to end the regular season in style.
The Colonels (31-3) roll into next week’s National Prep Championship tournament in Connecticut riding a 15-game winning streak, and they’ve won 25 of their last 26 games.
“As we started today, coming into shootarounds earlier this morning, coach just talked to us and said tonight is our last night to play in front of our home crowd, to play in our own gym … it’s our last time basically playing against someone else in a different jersey in our own gym,” Colonels forward Jarvis Vaughan said after the victory. “Our attitude was different coming into this game. We came in on a mission like we knew what we wanted to do and how we had to do it.”
The numbers from MMA’s 31st win of the season were impressive.
The Colonels scored 64 points in the first half and hit triple-figures despite playing the final 16 minutes of the contest with a running clock. They out-rebounded Bristol Prep 63-28 and held the Pacers to 26 percent shooting from the field while hitting 55 percent of their shots.
All 17 Colonels saw extensive playing time, and despite putting up 106 points on Bristol Prep for the second time this season, only one MMA player – guard Josh Jones (13 points) – reached double-digits in scoring. Fifteen Colonels scored at least 4 points in the win.
“It was fun. I like seeing my other teammates scoring. It looked good,” said MMA guard Brandon Suggs, an East Carolina University commit.
“We feel good about it, really,” he added of the win. “We just wanted to take what we learned in practice and play it in this game to get a good preparation for the national championship.”
The Colonels had a clear height advantage over Bristol Prep, which brought only eight players to Woodstock, and pounded the Pacers with a flurry of dunks and buckets in the paint to put the game out of reach in the first half.
MMA 6-foot-10 forward Mahamadou Diawara scored 9 points early – including 2 on a two-handed slam that started a 15-2 run five minutes into the contest – and the 6-8 Vaughan had similar success off the bench, contributing 9 points of his own in six minutes midway through the first half.
The Colonels outscored Bristol Prep 66-18 in the paint.
“That’s something that our coaches preach to us all the time – is no matter the team that we play, always pound them inside and take it to them hard,” Vaughan said. “They didn’t really have a post presence and that doesn’t mean we’re gonna take it any easier.”
Massanutten head coach Chad Myers, whose team had already locked up a spot in the National Prep Championship ahead of Thursday’s game, started digging deep into his bench later in the first half and the Colonels’ onslaught never slowed.
Six different Colonels combined to make nine straight shots – including five 3-pointers – over a span of five minutes to stretch their lead to as many as 40 points in the first half. Reserves played all but four seconds of the second half, and MMA – which made 44 of 80 shot attempts in the win – still outscored the Pacers 42-17 over the final 20 minutes.
“We did a great job of sharing,” Myers said. “... A lot of guys made shots. We’ve had some guys that have been off the bench that have been working really hard, just obviously different games, different rotations (have limited their) minutes, so it was good to see those guys in our last game here, everybody get a chance to play and get out there in front of friends, family, schoolmates.”
Massanutten, which will make its fifth national tournament appearance in five nonconsecutive seasons under Myers, now shifts its attention to the 10-team National Prep Championship, which begins on Wednesday. The Colonels have never won a game in at the NPC.
“Now is the time to crank it up a notch and take what we did tonight and transfer it over into next week, but 10 times harder,” Vaughan said. “Every team’s gonna have, easily, eight to 10 D-I athletes and every team’s gonna be able to equally match us. We’ve just gotta play harder.”