Cumberland Wins Big Over Buckingham

Published 4:11 pm Tuesday, January 10, 2012

That the Cumberland High School basketball team defeated Buckingham at home isn't a surprise. The Dukes have played the Knights well at home. That they won 74-46 was not expected.

“I was surprised at the margin of victory,” said Cumberland interim head coach Tyrone Mosby. “Normally when Buckingham and Cumberland get together, it's either close, or they win by a big margin.

“It almost goes without saying, but this was one of the best games we've played all year. The kids went into the game expecting to win, we got off to a great start and was able to carry it through to the end of the game.”

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Cumberland senior Devonte Booker helped the Dukes (7-6, 4-1 JRD) to a fast start. He scored ten of his game-high 32 points in the first quarter, along with VaSuon Boatwright, who scored all nine of his points in the first period. At the quarter break, Cumberland held a 21-7 advantage.

“What surprised me was that we didn't have to press them,” said Mosby. “I'm pretty sure they were looking for us to press, but we played so well in our halfcourt defense, that we didn't have to press.”

Buckingham (6-1, 2-1 JRD) tried to chip away at the CHS lead in the second quarter, but continued to struggle from the field. Unlike in the first quarter, Cumberland's scoring was a little more balanced, as five Dukes marked in the second period, which helped them build a 44-21 lead at halftime.

Buckingham junior Cam Johnson scored five of his 13 points in the third period, and the Dukes cooled a little, but CHS still held a commanding 50-36 lead heading into the final quarter of play.

Booker continued to light it up from the floor in the fourth quarter, as the Dukes pulled away for the large victory.

“We had a really good practice the day before the game, and I spoke to them about carrying that over into the game, and they were able to do that,” said Mosby. “Now, we'll have to carry that over into every game.”

Booker's game-high 32 points included three three-pointers. He was also a perfect 5-5 from the free throw line. Rashawn Sims was the only other Cumberland player to score in double-figures. He scored a quiet ten points, while Boatwright added nine. In all, nine CHS players managed to get into the scorebook.

Buckingham was led by senior guard Tarian Ayers, who had 14 points on the night. Johnson added 13, but it was a struggle offensively for the entire team. The Knights were 16-28 (57 percent) from the foul line, while Cumberland was a very respectable 10-14 (71 percent) from the stripe.

Much like a salesperson who sets a record for sales in a year, the high mark becomes the minimum standard going forward. However unfair that is, Cumberland is facing the same thing.

“We've got to continue this into our next game, and into the game after that,” said Mosby. “Not only do we have to meet the standard we've set, but we've got to continue to raise the bar.”

Cumberland is playing well in January. That's something that hasn't been a characteristic of teams of the recent past. The Dukes' model for success has been to improve through the season and be a factor by the James River District Tournament. That's good, but it doesn't help in terms of Region B Tournament seeding. Cumberland may have been playing well, but saw seasons come to an end, because the Dukes had to play a region power on its home court, rather than at a neutral site.

“That's been a problem for us in the past, definitely,” said Mosby, who is in his second stint with the Dukes, albeit this time in an interim mode for this season as Keith White recovers from an illness. “Maybe we can play well enough through the season to get a couple home games [in the Region B Tournament], and get to play the tough teams on a neutral court.”

That's all down the road. The primary focus is on the district race. A race the Dukes are very much in the middle of, and could be in front, pending Tuesday's outcome at Amelia.

“Amelia will be a big test for us,” said Mosby. “We'll have to follow up a big win at home with what is now an even bigger game on the road.”

Following Tuesday night's game at Amelia, Cumberland will travel to Nottoway on Friday. Buckingham was scheduled to host Goochland on Tuesday night, and will travel to Bluestone on Friday.