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BOYS HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL: Defense sparks Chargers' win

 

The staple of the Chancellor boys basketball team this season has been its pressure defense.

The Chargers’ full-court, swarming press was one of the big reasons coach Rob Reich’s team finished in second place behind Culpeper in the Battlefield District standings and won 17 games in the process.

On Monday night in the quarterfinals of the district tournament, the relentless, pressure defense was in full force, along with a wave of depth that carried them to a decisive 76–51 victory over visiting James Monroe.

“This team runs on intensity and energy, especially on defense,” said Reich. “When we bring that, we’re a very good team.”

The win advanced Chancellor (18–5) to a semifinal matchup with Courtland at King George High School on Wednesday night. Top-seeded Culpeper will face Caroline in the other semifinal.

James Monroe closed its season at 2–15. The Yellow Jackets won 24 games last year and had captured the last two district tournament titles.

“Our inexperience showed again tonight,” said JM coach Antonio Coghill. “We’ve struggled all year to score points and contain people. But you have to give Chancellor credit. They’re a very good basketball team.”

The Chargers showed how good they were from the opening tip Monday night.

Led by senior Chris Holmes, who reached the 1,000-point milestone in his career with 28 points, including a pair of crowd-pleasing dunks, Chancellor took control early and kept adding to their lead.

Holmes scored 15 of his points in the first two quarters as the Chargers built a 34–22 lead at the break with their steady pressure at both ends of the court.

With speedy guard Dre Edwards (14 points) and Holmes helping to set the pace, Chancellor’s trapping defense was a big factor in 15 turnovers by JM in the first half. For the game, the Jackets had 27 miscues.

“We’re everywhere with our defense and our intensity,” Edwards said. “Coach preaches it every day in practice.”

“We wanted to set the tone with our intensity early—from the locker room to the first tip,” added Reich. “That was a big key for us.”

The Chargers put the game out of reach in the third quarter with their aggressive play and depth. Besides Holmes and Edwards, they got a big lift from a number of players.

Matt King came off the bench and contributed nine points and eight rebounds. Emmanuel Royster added eight points, including a 4-for-4 night at the foul line.

King’s 3-pointer from the top of the key closed out a 29–11 scoring run by the Chargers in the third quarter that put them comfortably ahead, 63–33.

Holmes, who scored 27 points against JM in the team’s regular-season meeting last week, had to work hard for his final two points that brought him to the 1,000-point plateau in his career.

He netted his last two points midway in the fourth quarter on a two-handed dunk. He scored his first two points in similar fashion, bringing the Chancellor crowd to its feet with a baseline dunk.

“[The 1,000 points] is one of my biggest accomplishments so far,” said Holmes, who will play football at Duke next year. “My teammates did a great job tonight of setting screens and helping me get open. They were great.”

The Jackets made a brief run at the Chargers lead in the second quarter, but couldn’t sustain any momentum, mainly due to the Chargers’ constant pressure, but also due to some mistakes.

Leading scorer Marcus Finnie, who finished with 15 points, drained one of his three 3-point baskets with 24 seconds left in the first half to pull JM to within eight points.

But with seven seconds remaining, Holmes made a major statement with his athleticism and put the Chargers back in control.

The senior rebounded a missed Jackets free-throw, then drove the length of the court. With one second left, he scored on a driving layup and was fouled in the process.

Now that the Chargers have advanced to the district semifinals, Reich believes his team is ready to take the next step.

“We’re really close to where we need to be right now,” Reich said. “We’re cautiously optimistic as always, but I like the way we’re playing and the intensity we’re showing.”

James Monroe 6 16 11 18 — 51

Chancellor 14 20 29 13 — 76

Scoring

James Monroe (2–17): Jarmal Bevels 9, Tevin Brooks 0, Stephen Bryant 2, Antonio Edwards 5, Marcus Finnie 15, Ben Henderson 10, James Johnson 0, James McFadden 0, Tommy Nguyen 0, Miguel Pineda 0, Tony Scott 0, Dre-Jon Boley 5, Markey Conway 3, Tevon Lucas 0, C.J. Miller 2. Totals: 20 5-15 51.

Chancellor (18–5): Anthony Alexander 2, Justin Alvarez 0, Dre Edwards 14, Jawan Graves 0, Ryan Greer 4, Tre'von Henson 0, Chris Holmes 28, Josh James 5, Matt King 9, James Mickens 0, Jalen Miller 0, Jason Morgan 2, Chris Patterson 4, Emannuel Royster 8, Matt Burrell Jr. 0. Totals: 30 12-19 76.

Three-point goals: James Monroe 6 (M. Finnie 3, B. Henderson 2, M. Conway). Chancellor 4 (D. Edwards, R. Greer, M. King 2).

Steve Franzello: 540/374-5440

sports@freelancestar.com

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