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Barons look to finish strong as playoffs approach, take three games vs. JRD rivals

South Boston News
Mike Harris with the blocked shot vs. Central Lunenburg. (Mike Moseley photo) / January 23, 2019
With only four games remaining in the regular season schedule, the Bluestone Barons varsity basketball team quietly knocked off three James River District opponents last week to remain perfect in the conference with a record of 12-0, 12-5 overall.

The victories against Amelia, Prince Edward and Central Lunenburg, during a three-day span from Wednesday through Friday, in all likelihood locked up the district regular season championship.

Two of Bluestone’s losses this year came at the hands of county rivals Park View, with one loss each against Brunswick, Halifax and Highland Springs.

Bluestone bested Amelia 62-31, PE 64-58 and Central Lunenburg 60-24, respectively, before running up against a potent Highland Springs High School team Saturday at Brunswick High School in a non-conference tournament game, taking a 61-34 loss.

Bluestone has four regular season games left.

On Tuesday the Barons were set to play Nottoway in Skipwith. The Cougars had a league record of 2-4, 2-8 overall and were in eighth place in a nine-team JRD field as of Monday rankings. Bluestone defeated Nottoway 73-21 earlier in the season.

Next up for Bluestone is Goochland in a road game on Friday. Bluestone fought to a final score of 56-48 in their previous battle in Skipwith. The Bulldogs hold the No. 2 spot in the JRD at 6-1, 8-3 overall.

On Jan. 29 Bluestone hosts Buckingham, whom they have already bested 63-59 this season. Buckingham sits in fourth in the JRD with records of 6-4, 7-6. On Feb. 1 Bluestone travels to Cumberland — third in the district with a record of 6-3, 9-5 — to complete its regular season.

Barons head varsity coach George Lancaster has said the entire season that for the Barons to be a winning team, they must play hard-nosed defense. “Defense is who we are. That’s our staple.”

For the most part the Barons have followed his directives for defense, though they have been known to get away from that approach at times. When Bluestone plays top-notch “D,” they also excel on offense — and when they don’t, they struggle on both ends.

The Barons made it through the season with minimal injuries. Seniors Chris Gregory and Chris Hilliard each suffered ankle/leg injuries around the Christmas break that keep them out for a few games.

Hilliard has been seeing limited time in the past two weeks. Gregory, who hopes to return soon to the starting lineup, also played a limited role last week.

Gregory is six points from reaching the 1000-point scoring mark in his high school career, so that also lends some motivation to Bluestone finishing out the season strong. Add in the fact that most people can’t recall Bluestone winning the JRD with an undefeated record, and you have the stage set for a great two weeks of action left to enjoy.

Bluestone 60, Central Lunenburg 24

Bluestone had defeated Lunenburg 73-25 earlier in the season and used this rematch to give the second and third rotations some playing time and give some tired legs some much-needed rest.

Chris Hilliard, Larry Bullock, Nic Abernathy, Tywen Hatcher and Xavier Johnson started the game for the Barons. Bluestone brought in its starting rotation in the second and fourth periods.

Bluestone jumped out to the early 4-0 lead behind baskets by Hatcher and Bullock. Central hit a deuce before Bluestone went to the charity stripe for six straight shot fouls; all but one was off target for the 5-2 Barons lead.

Bluestone’s Jordan Hill drilled a three-pointer to increase the score to 8-2. Lunenburg posted two nice baskets by sophomore Cameron Kates to make the score 8-6. Bluestone closed out the period with a deuce by Hill for the 10-6 lead at the end of one.

When the Barons took the court in the second period, they overwhelmed their opponents with a 14-0 run for the 26-6 lead. Darien Jones was the only Charger to post points in the second period, hitting a deuce for the 26-8 score. Bluestone finished out the frame with two regulation baskets by Mike Harris and a trey from Taveion Small.

Bluestone was up 33-8 going into halftime. Harris had eight points in the second quarter.

The Barons played a mixture of rotations in the third period. Chris Gregory — a senior starter who has been nursing an ankle injury — saw some limited action in the frame, much to the delight of Barons’ fans.

Bluestone increased its lead to 48-14 by the end of the third. Nic Abernathy, who was recently moved up to the varsity team from the JV, found the nets for four points to pace Bluestone in the frame.

The final quarter saw the Barons close out strong. Bluestone posted 12 points in the frame to win 60-24. Bullock and Hill each had four points in the stanza.

Bluestone 64, Prince Edward 58

Anyone who follows James River District basketball knows that this match-up has risen to rivalry status the past six or seven seasons. PE was determined to bring it to Bluestone on Thursday night and the visitors from Farmville did just that in a highly entertaining game.

Bluestone’s Mike Harris and Nile Atwater posted 17 and 16 points on the night, respectively. Those points — and their defensive play — would be needed as PE challenged Bluestone at almost every turn from the tipoff of the game.

PE’s Jahieam Watkins hit the first basket to open play, putting PE up 2-0. Bluestone’s Atwater responded with a deuce and Harris followed with another basket and he was fouled for the three-point play and a 5-2 Barons’ lead.

PE hit a trey to knot the score at 5-5 and took the lead again with a bucket at 7-5. PE the used a 7-2 run to gain some separation at 12-7. Bluestone used a great push to pull within two-points as the period ended with PE up 16-14.

Atwater flushed a breakaway dunk to start the second period. With 4:40 left in the period the score was tied at 21-21. The frame was one of back-and-forth for each team, Bluestone closing in and then PE finding some wiggle room. At halftime PE led 34-30.

As the third period began Harris hit one-of-two from the line and Atwater drained a three-pointer to tie bring the score to 34-34. The teams were tied at 46-46 as time wound down in the third. PE hit a deuce to close the third and move ahead 48-46.

In the fourth Bluestone’s defense went in hyper mode. PE hit a basket before the Barons rallied to a 13-2 run to stun PE and take the lead at 59-52. Bluestone’s defense remained strong and the Barons went on to win 64-58.

Bluestone 62, Amelia 32

The Barons traveled to Amelia last Wednesday and earned the lopsided 62-32 win. Bluestone was paced by Nile Atwater’s 16 points and Mike Harris’ 14 points. Trey Small added eight points and Da’Trione Shearin six points.

Amelia hung close in the first period, holding Bluestone to a 17-10 lead at the end of one. Bluestone rocked their hosts in the second period by outscoring Amelia 20-5 for the 37-15 halftime lead.

The Barons finished out the game with a 17-point third and an eight-point fourth period.

Girls improve, but still at 0-12 in JRD

The Bluestone varsity girls (0-12) had a rough road stand last week, playing three games and drawing the “L” each time. Yet the losses weren’t as bad as when the team met these same James River district opponents earlier in the season.

The Lady Barons lost on Friday to Central Lunenburg 35-23. They fell to Prince Edward on Thursday 47-30 and to Amelia 47-30 on Wednesday. Scores previously with these teams were 49-25, 56-11 and 51-6, in that order.

The Lady Barons were scheduled to travel to Nottoway last night and will play at Goochland on Friday with the JV and varsity boys in a tripleheader.

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