Colonels fall to Mt. Zion Prep in first home loss of season

Massanutten Military Academy's Charles Falden goes up against Mt. Zion's Philip Alexander during first half action Wednesday night in Woodstock. Rich Cooley/Daily

WOODSTOCK – Massanutten Military Academy’s postgraduate boys basketball team let one slip away Wednesday night.

After building a 9-point lead early in the second half over visiting Mt. Zion Prep (Maryland), a scoring lull derailed the Colonels. MMA couldn’t make enough defensive stops down the stretch to compensate and the Warriors left Woodstock with an 80-76 victory.

It was MMA’s first loss at home this season and the Colonels’ second defeat in their last three games.

“I guess we could make a bunch of excuses,” said Colonels head coach Chad Myers, whose team dropped to 21-4 overall. “I mean (point guard M.J. Melvin) didn’t play and I just didn’t think we had the same energy as a team. He’s kind of like our spark on offense that gets us into stuff. He guards the ball. I mean, I don’t know. I told them, we didn’t play great. We missed lots of shots but we still had a chance to get a stop to win the game at the end. We just couldn’t find a way to get a stop and a rebound, which has kind of been our thing all year. We have to get stops and rebound to beat good teams.”

MMA shot just 31.9 percent (22 for 69) from the field in the loss, including less than 30 percent in the second half. The Colonels also lost the rebounding battle 48-38, surrendered 44 points in the paint – 28 of which came after halftime – and allowed Mt. Zion to shoot 57.1 percent in the second half.

Massanutten Military Academy's Jamarko Pickett goes up for a slam dunk during first half basketball action Wednesday night against Mt. Zion in Woodstock. Rich Cooley/Daily

Riding a 22-point first half performance from 6-foot-9 forward Jamarko Pickett, an Ole Miss signee, MMA took a 40-39 lead into halftime and nearly extended that advantage to double figures with a trio of buckets from three different players to open the second half.

Colonels sharpshooter Bud Mack opened the 8-0 run with a 3-pointer, which 6-foot-11 Denmark native Kasper Christiansen followed with a two-handed baseline slam in transition off an assist from Charles Falden. Falden put the finishing touches on the spurt with a 3 to put MMA up 48-39 less than two minutes into the second half.

The Colonels maintained at least a 5-point lead over the next four minutes but hit a scoring drought after Mack’s second 3-pointer put MMA up 56-48 with 14:10 to play. Massanutten Military Academy went scoreless over the next 5:25, a span that saw Mt. Zion score 12 unanswered points to take a 60-56 lead.

“I thought we got the shots we wanted,” Myers said. “I mean they didn’t do anything defensively that we were really surprised by, just gotta make some plays. We missed some chippies. We missed some wide-open shots.”

Pickett, who found success attacking the rim and getting to the free-throw line in the first half, said he became the target of Mt. Zion’s defense in the second half. He had just three points after the break to finish with 25 points and 13 rebounds.

Massanutten Military Academy's Kasper Christansen shoots over Mt. Zion's D.J. Tyree during first half basketball action Wednesday night in Woodstock. Rich Cooley/Daily

“They started to pack the paint, put more men in the paint, so I couldn’t really get to the lane to get layups,” said Pickett, who missed all six of his field goal attempts in the second half. “I didn’t shoot many threes. I don’t know, I was just ready to attack this game. They just packed the paint in the second half.”

MMA briefly gained a 63-62 lead when Falden (13 points) hit a driving layup through contact and made the ensuing free throw with 6:30 to play, but the Warriors came right back on the next possession with a bucket in the paint from University of Georgia commit Teshaun Hightower (20 points) to reclaim the lead.

Mt. Zion held the lead – which stretched to 73-68 at one point – for the next 4:40 before an 8-2 Colonels run ended with another Mack 3-pointer that gave the Colonels a 76-75 lead with 1:40 to play. The Warriors again found an immediate answer when MMA was called for a goaltending violation on Hightower’s floater in the lane, and the Colonels committed a costly turnover when Mack was called for traveling while driving into contact with 36 seconds left.

Following a timeout, Hightower drew the defense in with a drive and kicked it out to Daryl Bones, who buried a 3-pointer that put Mt. Zion up 80-76 with 18 seconds left. MMA got off just one more shot before the buzzer, a 3-pointer from Cory Hill that missed its mark.

Pickett said the Colonels’ turnover on Mack’s traveling violation was the final turning point in the loss.

Massanutten Military Academy's Kendrick Tucker splits Mt. Zion's Daryl Bones, left, and Eddie Gibbs, right, during first half basketball action Wednesday night in Woodstock. Rich Cooley/Daily

“That definitely was a foul and (when) they called the travel that was it,” Pickett said. “Everybody kind of just put their head down and gave up a little bit.”

Christiansen, who got in foul trouble early in the second half, had 10 points for MMA, while Mack and Kendrick Tucker each finished with 9 points.

Mt. Zion had four players in double figures, as Isaiah Whaley (17 points, 11 rebounds), Obadiah Tappin (15 points, 10 rebounds) and Bones (15 points) joined Hightower.

Massanutten Military Academy will host an eight-team tournament – a field that will include Mt. Zion – on Friday and Saturday. 

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or bfauber@nvdaily.com

Massanutten Military Academy's Kasper Christansen blocks a shot by Mt. Zion's Daryl Bones during first half basketball action Wednesday night in Woodstock. Rich Cooley/Daily