Knights Rally To Top Cumberland

Published 4:30 pm Thursday, February 10, 2011

CUMBERLAND – Separated by just 16 miles on the same stretch of highway, it goes without saying that Cumberland and Buckingham High Schools share a close rivalry.

Tuesday night on the basketball court, things got even closer. And more dramatic. Cumberland held a commanding lead for most of the night, before Buckingham staged a late rally to force overtime and go onto win 86-82 in basketball's version in the “Battle of Route 60.”

Much like in the teams' first meeting in Buckingham a few weeks ago, the Dukes jumped out to an early lead, only this time they were able to maintain it for the better part of three quarters.

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“Cumberland took it to us early-on,” said BCHS head coach Russ Gowin. “They got after it and played with intensity. We didn't, but we picked up things on defense, and that helped us get back into the game more than anything.”

“We didn't execute at key times in the game,” said CHS first-year head coach Marcus Gregory. “We had some mental breakdowns. We didn't do some of the things you're supposed to do when you have a good lead in the second half, and Buckingham took advantage of that.”

Cumberland, behind the early hot hand of guard Shaquille Warren, led 17-11 at the end of the first quarter and extended its lead to 42-28 at halftime.

Cumberland junior forward Rashawn Sims provided most of the spark for the Dukes in the second quarter, as they enjoyed a double-digit lead for much of the night.

That started to change after halftime. BCHS senior center Kevin Bolden, who was held scoreless in the first half, started to assert himself in the third quarter. He and junior guard/forward Caleb White, who was held to just eight points through three quarters, helped to pull the Knights close early in the fourth quarter.

“This was the first night that Kevin really looked like he felt good after injuring his ankle,” said Gowin. “We wanted to go to him, but got away from that in the first half. We re-adjusted at the half and he played well for us in the second half.”

“Bolden is tough down there, and we made it a point of emphasis not to let him get going,” said Gregory. “We held him to no points in the first half, but once he got a rhythm, he showed how effective he can be.”

Cumberland held a 53-46 advantage at the end of the third, but signs were already pointing to a shift in momentum.

The Knights began the quarter with a 9-2 run to tie the score at 55 apiece on a lay-up by LA Briley, and the two teams traded buckets until the Knights pulled ahead by four points with a minute remaining on two made foul shots by Caleb White.

Cumberland fouled wisely, and took advantage of four-straight missed free throws by Briley and Bolden. The Dukes tied the game at 73 apiece on a pair of Devonte Booker foul shots with 25 seconds left.

Buckingham had one last crack at ending the game in regulation, but Landon Allen was unable to get a shot off as the buzzer sounded.

That was a small bump in the comeback trail for the Knights, who scored the first eight points of the overtime period to take an 82-73 lead with 1:57 remaining.

Sims scored twice more to pull CHS back to within five points at 82-77 with 90 seconds remaining, but BCHS reserve Tariq Bartee put the game out of reach with a lay-up with just over a minute left to play. Booker hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to bring the game to its four-point outcome.

“We've had our share of trouble on the road, but we seem to be learning how to win on the road,” said Gowin. “We won at Prince Edward last week and at Cumberland tonight. These are two of the tougher places to play, and for us to get wins in these buildings is encouraging. I hope the fans put another dollar in the bucket as they left tonight. Both teams put on an outstanding show.”

Sims led the Dukes with 32 points on the night, while Booker added 24. Warren scored 13. Cumberland was 11-22 (50 percent) from the foul line.

Buckingham was led in scoring by White, who scored 15 of his team-high 23 points in the fourth quarter and overtime, while Johnson tallied a consistent 21 points. Bolden scored all of his 14 points after halftime, while Briley added 12 for the Knights. Buckingham was 21-40 (53 percent) from the foul line.

Buckingham was scheduled to wrap up regular-season play on Thursday night at home against regular-season champ Amelia, which sewed things up on Tuesday night with a victory over Randolph-Henry. The Knights are locked into second place, and will host a semifinal game in the James River District Tournament next week.

Cumberland will host Central at 7 p.m. on Friday night in the JRD Tournament Quarterfinal. The winner will travel to Amelia in the semifinal next week.

“For us right now, it's win or go home,” said Gregory. “We can't take Central lightly. We played well against them in our two previous games, but they'll be ready for us Friday night.”