FINCASTLE – The James River boys showed they’re not ready to take a back seat to Lord Botetourt in basketball just yet, as the Knights defeated LB, 60-57, in Buchanan last Friday.
The win comes just a week and a day after the Cavaliers hammered River, 58-35, in Daleville. That broke a string of five straight River wins and appeared the mantel of county supremacy was being passed to the Cavaliers. Well, let’s put that on hold for the time being.
“We’d beaten them so many times the law of averages was bound to catch up with us,” said River coach Mike Goad. “They came after us with enthusiasm and pride last week and they beat us so badly, maybe they were a little overconfident this time. They found out we have pride ourselves, and we focused a little better in our gym. Let’s call it a ‘Tale of Two Towns’.”
Botetourt jumped off to an 18-12 lead after one quarter but the Knights cut the lead in half by intermission at 32-29. LB held on to a one point lead, 48-47, after three quarters and River passed them down the stretch.
“Give them credit, they attacked us off the dribble,” said LB coach Chad Conner. “They played zone and we didn’t do a good job of attacking it.”
River won the game at the line, hitting 16 of 21 free throws while visiting LB was five for seven.
“They attacked the basket and we didn’t,” said Conner. “We’ll learn from it. They were out to get us and they played with a lot of pride.”
John Bennett led the Knights with 19 points, Caleb Lythgoe had a season-high 12, and JT Sandidge had 11. Justin Goode led LB with 17 points and Zack Kelly hit three threes and had 11 for the Cavs.
It was a good week for the Knights, who lost their first five games before winning at Glenvar last Tuesday, 63-49. Sandidge had 20, Bennett had 17, and Bryan Hoppe had 10 for the Knights in that game.
A night later the Knights were back home to host Rockbridge on Saturday and dropped a 67-35 game, as Andrew Rowsey scored 23 for the Wildcats. Sandidge had 14 to lead River.
A busy schedule continued on Monday of this week as River dropped a 41-36 game to Cave Spring in Buchanan. River jumped off to a 10-2 lead but Cave Spring bounced back to go up two by the half, 19-17. Sandidge had 10 to lead River.
Now 2-7, River is 1-1 against Group A schools and 1-6 against Group AA teams. They continue a brutal schedule with a trip to Alleghany tonight.
“We play over half our schedule in December,” said Goad. “We have our 10th game this week and some teams have only played five or six.”
Lord Botetourt fell to 2-4 with the loss to River, and the Cavaliers were scheduled to play at Blacksburg on Tuesday of this week. Glenvar is at LB on Thursday for the final game before the holiday break.
“We’re getting better every game,” said Conner. “Every game we see something we need to do to get better and we’re working on it.”