Knights Survive JRD Opener At Amelia County

Published 4:21 pm Tuesday, December 11, 2012

AMELIA C.H. – The compressed early season schedule for the Buckingham County High School boys basketball team, due to the football team's two-week run in the playoffs, made the Knights face a tall task in their second game of the season.

But what was once seen as something they would've rather been able to put off a couple of weeks, an early James River District game at Amelia, became something they were glad to have out of the way following the Knghts' 48-37 victory over the Raiders.

“It's tough to play district games so early in the season,” said BCHS head coach Russ Gowin. “Of course, we add to it by having to go to Amelia and play them on a Friday night. That was a big test for our team, and I'm glad we were able to pass it.

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“It's always tough to play at Amelia, I don't care who you are. They defend their home court as well as anyone we'll face all year.”

Decimated by losses to graduation, Amelia, last year's Group A, Division 1 State Tournament Finalist, had a two-week jump on the Knights, and that game experience showed early on, but Buckingham, a senior-heavy team with designs on a deep playoff run this year, was able to stay a step ahead for much of the game.

Up 9-7 at the end of the first quarter, Buckingham opened the second quarter with a 9-2 run to take a 17-9 lead midway through the second quarter. Senior guard Tariq Bartee scored eight of his 11 points in the second. Back-to-back layups by Bartee gave BCHS a 21-13 advantage, that was closed to 21-17 at halftime.

Amelia closed its deficit to two points early in the third quarter, but Buckingham slowly pushed out to a 29-19 lead with 3:15 left to play on a pair of free throws from senior center Dre Scott.

Amelia, which had gone cold in the first six minutes of the second half, started to heat up toward the end of the third, and trailed 32-25 at the final break.

BCHS pushed its lead back to ten points on a layup by Cam Johnson with 7:29 to play, but the Raiders, who trailed 35-27 with six minutes to play, hit back-to-back three-pointers to cut Buckingham's lead to two at 35-33 at the 5:00 mark.

“We talked about it during every time out,” said Gowin. “We knew Amelia would get hot and hit a couple of shots quickly to get back into the game. I don't care if they haven't been able to hit anything the whole night, at some point, they're going to break out of the slump and make a run.”

Though stymied by the sudden Amelia run, Buckingham never lost the lead. Layups by Bartee and Senior Timothy Randolph kept the Knights out front. A layup by Randolph, who had been fighting foul trouble all evening, and played the final 11 minutes of the game with four fouls, hit a layup to put BC ahead 42-35 with 2:14 left.

Johnson hit both ends of a one-and-one with 1:08 left to give BCHS a 45-35 lead, and was able to withstand any attempt by the Raiders to cut into the Knights' lead.

“I can't say enough about how big that win was for us,” said Gowin. “I'm glad to have that one over with. Amelia is going to get a team or two you maybe think they shouldn't before the year is over.”

Johnson led the Knights with 14 points on the evening, while Bartee had 11 points and seven rebounds. Randolph scored a double-double of ten points and ten rebounds, despite being saddled with foul trouble almost from the tip.

“That's another example of the poise I thought the team showed,” said Gowin. “Yes, [Randolph] did get into foul trouble, but he was able to adjust his game accordingly. And though he had to change what he was doing, he did it without becoming a liability to the team. That's something players have to learn with experience.”

Buckingham, which defeated Powhatan 76-51 in its season-opener last Thursday, was scheduled to travel to Nottoway on Tuesday night, before hosting Appomattox on Wednesday. On Friday, Buckingham will host Randolph-Henry.

“It's kind of like an NBA schedule with back-to-back games, but I think it will be good for us in the long run.”