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Bluestone opens JRD play with 74-53 win over R-H





Barons look ahead to Region A home opener after losing district tilt to R-H

South Boston News
Patrick Alexander led the Barons with 22 points against Randolph-Henry / February 14, 2018

The Bluestone Barons hit the road on Saturday night to open James River District tournament action and dropped their semi-final round game to Randolph-Henry, 75-64.

The two teams along with Goochland and Cumberland comprised the JRD tournament bracket. Goochland defeated R-H by a 73-55 score on Monday night in Farmville for the JRD title.

Goochland advanced to the championship game with a 61-45 win over Cumberland on Saturday. The Bulldogs were also the JRD regular season champs.

Bluestone finished the season with a 11-6 district record, good for third place, and now the Barons will prepare for an opening round Class 2 Region A game Friday night in Skipwith.

Region A consists of 14 high schools and will be split into East and West. Bluestone is in the West along with Randolph-Henry, Greensville, Nottoway, Prince Edward, Brunswick and Amelia.

East Region teams are Goochland, Bruton, Maggie Walker, Poquoson, Arcadia, Nandua and King William. The teams will play down to the final four teams standing between the two regions.

Bluestone’s East Region A opponent for Friday had not been announced as of press time.

But if Bluestone wants to keep moving forward in region action and then on to the VHSL State tournament, they will have to really settle down and play a full, four quarters of ball.

The Barons had some very solid wins during the regular season and have some talented players on the team. But at times Bluestone has struggled with in-game consistency — and that was the case at Randolph-Henry on Monday.

The Barons’ early exit was a stunning blow for a Bluestone crowd that saw their team jump out to a 25-5 lead to start the game. Bluestone’s Chris Gregory scored 12 points in the first quarter, draining two treys, a couple of buckets and two at the foul line.

Gregory’s teammate Patrick Alexander scored 11 points in the frame. The Statesmen, though, weren’t about to give up their home court so easy.

The second quarter was a total reverse of the first, with the Statesmen ripping off 19 points, while limiting Bluestone to six. The score at the half was 31-24 in favor of Bluestone.

In the third quarter, Bluestone still maintained the advantage on the scoreboard. R-H would surge — and Bluestone would answer.

With the score 43-36 in the third quarter, with 2:08 left on the clock and R-H making another run, Bluestone’s Michael Harris had a nice deuce and a free throw to put the Barons back up 46-36.

But things were slowly starting to turn in favor of R-H. The Statesmen made some adjustments on offense and defense and the team methodically went about breaking the Barons down.

The Statesmen used a 10-3 blast to whittle away at the Bluestone lead and added a basket with under six seconds left in the quarter to get the score to 49-48.

Bluestone rushed the ball upcourt and as the buzzer sounded, with a defender in his face, Patrick drained a deep three-pointer. Bluestone led 52-48 as the frame ended but would lose Gregory to fouls.

The teams waged back-and-forth in the fourth quarter until with 5:53 left, Bluestone’s Cam Tucker went to the line and hit one-of-two for a 59-55 Barons lead.

During the fourth quarter, R-H went to a full press “D” and Bluestone just never seemed to figure it out. And during the final 5:53 of the game, the Statesmen ran the scheme to near perfection, causing Bluestone to turn the ball over for points multiple times.

R-H went on a 14-0 run, taking the clock down to 1:38 with a 70-59 lead. Bluestone was held to five points to finish out the frame; R-H added six more points for a 75-64 win.

Barons head coach Benjamin Sizemore said in the week leading up to the game that he felt like the team had to focus more on its defensive play. And to a certain extent, that did happen in the tourney game.

But the Barons’ frustrations were evident without a plan to break R-H’s pressure defense. Bad passes, poor shot selection, getting out-rebounded – the fruits of R-H’s good defense results bedeviled Bluestone for most of the second half.

Coach Sizemore acknowledged the loss but doesn’t see a setback. The regions are a whole new season, and the Barons feels like they can compete.

“The guys have said they want to win in the regions and go to the state,” Sizemore said. “I’ve told them if they want to go to the Siegel Center, no one is going to give it to us. We’re going to have to take it. They understand this and believe they can do it.”

Bluestone – D Pettus 3, C. Tucker 10, J. Hill 2, C. Gregory 16, P. Alexander 22, M. Harris 9, T. Small 2.

R-H – T. Roberts 11, T. Pugh 4, J. Jones 36, N. Pettus 15, J. Puryear 2, V. Moore 2, D. Brantley 5.

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