Another stellar Falcons run

Published 9:48 pm Saturday, March 2, 2019

Another outstanding season has come to an end for Fuqua School’s varsity boys basketball team, and it is also another year that ends without a state tournament berth.

The Falcons finished with an overall record of 16-7, playing challenging competition that included Virginia High School League (VHSL) Class 6 teams and more, but they were not able to draw the required votes from the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association (VISAA) committee. Fuqua Head Coach Mike Edwards confirmed that the committee’s decision is what determines state tournament berths. The Falcons needed to be among the top 12 teams in VISAA Division III.

Edwards said he compared his team’s schedule to those of other teams.

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“I felt like our schedule was even better or on par with some of those other teams, but it came down to the couple games that we’ve lost that we should have just went ahead and shot for going undefeated, I assume,” he said.

Though he was obviously frustrated with the lack of a state berth, Edwards was pleased with his team’s overall performance during the 2018-19 campaign.

“I feel as if throughout the entire season we improved,” he said. “We improved not only on the court but off the court, and I felt as if they, as a whole, came together as a team, which is something that every coach looks for.”

Pinpointing when the Falcons experienced this special unity as a team, Edwards recalled his team’s 62-59 victory over Amelia County High School, a VHSL Class 2 team, in a holiday tournament Dec. 29. It was only the 11th game in his tenure as head coach.

“I know I got a technical foul called,” he said. “During halftime in the locker room, I told my guys that I would fight for them no matter what it is. … I think once they saw that I had their backs, I think they saw that I was in it with them, not just trying to be somebody out there just yelling at them, that I’m in the trenches with them, and they really took heed to my words.”

That contest was the beginning of an eight-game winning streak for the Falcons, their longest of the season.

Edwards cited a 60-59 road loss to Veritas School on Dec. 3 as both the low point and the high point of the Falcons’ season. It was their third game, and it dropped them to 1-2 on the year.

“It was the low point because I think that we didn’t really understand how to win, especially on the road,” he said. “With so many new guys and then a new coach and a new system, it was just that we weren’t really there to buy in. And I will also say that was the high point, because I think we realized that we had more work to do and that we weren’t as good as we thought we were and that we needed to come out and compete every time.”

Fourteen games later, Fuqua was 12-5 going into a rematch at home with Veritas. This time, the Falcons orchestrated a 43-point victory — 84-41.

“I think as the season went on, we matured as a team and realized that we can’t always play to the level of our competition, that we have to put people away as soon as the ball goes in the air,” Edwards said.

Fuqua is set to lose only one player due to graduation — Tanner Cyrus, and Edwards expects the other 11 to return.

Edwards noted that several emerged as standouts, including junior Matt Osborn, sophomore Maureon Tisdale-Couch, junior Jaylen Hempfield and junior Drew Osborn.