Falcons Upset By Kenston Forest In VCC Quarterfinals

Published 4:26 pm Thursday, February 23, 2012

FARMVILLE – One of the most used cliche terms used this time of year is on how difficult it is for one team to beat another one for the third time in one season. The Fuqua School boys basketball team found that out the hard way on Tuesday night in a 54-49 loss to Kenston Forest in the quarterfinal round of the Virginia Commonwealth Conference Tournament.

The two teams were meeting one-another for the second time in four days. Fuqua secured the No. 3 seed by ending the regular-season with a 78-67 victory over the No. 6 Kavaliers last Friday in Blackstone.

Neither team held more than a three-possession lead until KF pulled away in the final minute at the foul line. Fuqua led for much of the first half, and briefly in the fourth quarter, but the Kavaliers used their size advantage inside to wear down the Falcons in the late stages of the game.

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“We just didn't do a good job of boxing out,” said FS head coach Marcus Gregory. “That's something that we've been inconsistent at all season.

“I credit them for their aggressive defense. It knocked it off of our game. In the end, I think it came down to who wanted it more. They did.”

Fuqua grabbed the lead on the first possession and held it into the third quarter. The Falcons led 15-12 at the end of the first quarter and 23-22 at halftime. Kenston Forest took its first lead early in the third, but Fuqua responded with a 10-2 run to seemingly take back control of the game. A steal and layup by Antonio Gonzalez, gave the Falcons a 35-30 lead with 4:14 left in the period.

The Falcons' momentum was quickly halted when Kenston Forest went to a bigger lineup. Fuqua seemed stymied by the move, and fell behind 39-37 at the end of the third quarter.

The two teams traded the lead through much of the fourth quarter. Kenston grabbed a 46-45 lead with 2:10 left on a Jared Thomas layup. Fuqua, however, retook the advantage at 47-46 on the next play after Larry Haskins finished off a layup that started with Charles Williams saving a potential turnover by heaving the ball back to Gonzalez, who found Haskins all alone for an easier-said-than-done two.

Usually plays like that late in the game are game breakers. But in a game of unusuals, it wasn't the case. Fouls started to mount for the Falcons, and KF center Tom Jones looked more like a guard on the foul line over the final two minutes. He hit 11 of 14 free throws in the fourth quarter to help the Kavaliers take the late lead and eventually preserve the upset victory.

“Again, we got away from what are our principles, both defensively and offensively,” said Gregory. On the offensive side, it seemed like we were looking for a call instead of making strong moves to the basket. Defensively, we just couldn't rebound.”

Jones led all scorers with 18 points on the night. John Yacovelli, another Kenston Forest front-court player, scored 13.

Gonzalez led the Falcons with 12 points, and senior guard Landon Allen added 11, while Davis Cyrus scored eight. Williams, who was saddled with foul trouble for much of the game, was held scoreless.

The loss dealt a severe blow to the Falcons' playoff hopes. They were ranked ninth in the VISBA Division III rankings heading into the game. The top 12 teams advance into the playoffs. A good run in the VCC Tournament would have likely gotten Fuqua a home game next week. As it is, the Falcons will have to wait until Sunday to find out if they will get a spot in the field.

“Now we wait,” said Gregory. “Based on tonight, we probably don't deserve to get a bid. Do I feel we're capable of winning a few games if we get into the tournament? Yes. Are we deserving? If we get in, we'll have an opportunity to prove that next week, but we'll most likely have to go on the road to do so.”