Eagles boys hold off Colonels 85-80
BERRYVILLE — It was career night at Clarke County High School Monday night.
No there wasn’t a building full of business representatives looking for future high school graduates to hire, but the Clarke County boys’ basketball team sure did put its work ethic on display — specifically senior Cody Taylor and junior Morgan Warfield.
Both scored career highs to help the Eagles hold off a furious fourth quarter rally by James Wood and register a nail-biting 85-80 non-district victory over the Colonels to avenge an early season loss.
“It’s a non-district win in the middle of the season,” Clarke County coach Brent Emmart said. “We’re just looking to get better as a team. We were looking for improvement. It was a team effort and win, we didn’t depend on one person.
“It was a game of peaks and valleys. Fortunately we had more peaks then they did and they had more valleys.”
Though the Eagles didn’t depend on one person there weren’t a lot for them to look to. The shorthanded Eagles only dressed 10 players and only used an eight-man rotation throughout the contest against a Colonel team that runs waves of players in and out of the game.
However, four of the five Clarke starters scored in double figures, led by Taylor’s career-high 28 points and classmate Davey Hardesty’s 21 points. Warfield also turned in a career-high 18 points and was also a dominating force on the defensive end and on the glass at both ends of the floor.
“You’ve got to give both those kids credit for career highs. I didn’t even realize it,” Emmart said.
For the Colonels it was live by the 3-point shot, die by the 3-point shot. Though they hit 13 treys in the game, the outside shooting went dead cold in the third quarter.
Leading by four at the break Wood (7-8) was only able to score 10 points and missed 17 shots while turning the ball over six times. The result was an 11-point deficit heading into the fourth quarter.
“We have a history of doing that this season,” James Wood coach Al Smith said. “We don’t come out ready to play in the second half. But we did have a chance (in the fourth]. Credit Clarke County, they hit their shots and especially their free throws.”
Clarke County (6-9) broke a 13-13 tie midway through the first quarter with seven straight points (all by Hardesty) in a span of just 40 seconds for a 20-13 lead with just under three minutes to play in the opening frame.
The Colonels finished the first on a 5-1 run to close the gap to 21-18 and the shootout was on.
Wood’s Nick Foura opened the second quarter with an old-fashioned 3-point play and his free throw tied the game at 21-21.
Clarke didn’t finally give up the lead until the 4:48 mark of the quarter when Wood’s McCall Toler buried a long 3-pointer to make it 29-28. It was the Colonels’ second 3 of the quarter but the first of four straight treys on the offensive end for Wood.
During the Colonels’ 3-ball run the Eagles were only able to hit three free throws and Wood was able to build a 38-31 advantage with just over two minutes left in the half. Two free throws, one each by Josh Akeley and Cam Butler, gave Wood its biggest lead of the night 40-31.
Five straight points, three from the free-throw line to end the half, for Clarke County pulled it back to within striking distance at 40-36 at halftime.
The third quarter was a tale of two totally different teams and in the end would spell the difference in the ball game.
While the Colonels struggled to score the Eagles were taking full advantage.
With 4:22 to play in the period Taylor scored to give the Eagles the lead back for good. He was fouled on the play and his free throw made it 48-46. It also started a 10-0 run for Clarke that saw it go from one down to up nine with just over two minutes left.
Another score from Taylor followed by a 3-pointer by sophomore Sean McDonald made it 53-46. Then Warfield finished off the run with a fast-break layup off a nice assist from Hardesty for the nine-point cushion.
Following a pair of free throws by Wood’s Brady Hepner the Eagles went right back to work. Taylor hit a 3-pointer of his own and then pushed the lead to 12 when he went coast-to-coast for a layup, making it 60-48 with 1:26 left and after a McDonald free throw the lead was 13 with less then a minute to play.
For much of the fourth quarter it appeared the Eagles would be able to run out the clock and escape with a comfortable victory but then the Colonels got hot from long distance again.
With 2:37 remaining Nick Goode knocked down a 3-pointer for Wood to make it 76-68. After two Eagle free throws pushed the lead back to 10 back-to-back 3-pointers by Toler and Williams made it 78-74 and put a scare into the home crowd as the Eagles have had some issues closing out games this season.
Clarke would do just enough down the stretch to hold off the Colonels. A field goal by McDonald made it a six-point advantage and the Eagles hit 5-of-8 free throws in the last 42 seconds to ice down the victory. For the game Clarke hit 31 of 43 free throws.
Wood was led by Toler who hit five 3-pointers and scored 15 points off the bench. Williams added 12 and Foura 10.