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Dragons claim district crown in thriller over Surry

South Boston News
Park View celebrates its overtime victory over Surry County to win the Tri-Rivers District Tournament championship. / February 21, 2018

It seems only fitting that the two teams that did battle just the week before to decide the regular season championship would again meet in the Tri-Rivers District finale. And so it was as Park View faced off against a Surry Cougar team bent on revenge Tuesday night in Lawrenceville. First-year Dragon head coach Danny Watkins and his squad knew that the Cougars were not going to be intimidated and that they would have their hands full.

The game lived up to expectations, with Park View jumping out to a big early lead but Surry fighting back to close the gap in the third period.

The fourth quarter was championship-caliber as the Cougars and Dragons battled to within points of each other. Surry went ahead late and it took some last-second heroics by PV standout Charlzae Holmes to send the game into overtime, with PV finally pulling out a 60-56 win.

Unlike in the previous meeting between the two teams, Surry did not vault to an early lead. In fact, just the opposite happened. Park View took the tip and in very short order Tae Holmes hit a three-pointer that would set the tone for the balance of the first period. The Cougars seemed to be fighting a case of jitters as they quickly committed a couple of turnovers and had some difficulty finding the hoop.

Meantime, Park View got treys by Tae Holmes and Charlzae Holmes and a put-back on an offensive rebound by Demetrious Bugg and another Bugg basket — a beautiful two-pointer on a brilliant pass by Latarj House — to go up 18-8 at the end of the first. DeAndre Miles and House also contributed points late in the quarter.

The second went well for the Cougars as they sliced the Dragons’ lead to seven points going into halftime, 26-19. The comeback continued in the third quarter as Cougar center Z. Slade made his presence known, scoring 10 points as Surry wiped out PV’s advantage entirely.

Slade got under the skin of a couple of PV players and drew intentional fouls, one coming on a shoving match away from the ball in which the referee only saw the retaliation by Park View. Slade sank both free throws and Surry got possession of the ball, and so it went as the Dragons saw their lead evaporate after a promising start to the game.

The fourth period was an epic battle. The Cougars opened with a basket to extend the lead to four, but Park View’s Jatonio Seward scored two buckets in a row to tie the score at 40.

On the ensuing possession, Q. Palmer got free for the Cougars, took four quick steps to the basket and threw down a huge slam dunk to bring the Surry fans to their feet.

At the 5:27 mark, Surry’s center Slade, apparently having been in Jatonio Seward’s ear for a while, finally got the retaliation he was seeking as Seward lost his cool and put him to the floor with a hard foul. Slade went to the free throw line for four ties, two for the the foul and an additional two for the intentional foul.

He sank three of the four tries to extend the Cougar lead to five, with the Cougars awarded possession.

But the Cougars failed to convert, and Park View responded as Tae Holmes hit a sweet trey to cut the lead to two. The ensuing possession saw the Cougars again fail to score, and after a turnover Charlzae Holmes hit a deuce in the paint to tie it up and drew a foul in the process. He completed the free throw put the Dragons back up by one, 46-45.

With four minutes left to play, both teams sent a parade of players to the line as the defenses were really playing tight. Both teams struggled at the foul line but Surry was eventually able to take a two-point lead with only 9.7 seconds on the clock.

After a timeout, the Dragons inbounded and quickly worked the ball across midcourt and fed it to Charlzae Holmes, who hit a contested but stone-cold deuce to tie the game at the buzzer. Two exhausted teams, two exhausted coaching staffs and three exhausted officials headed into overtime.

The four-minute OT period started with Demetrious Bugg tapping the tip-off to a waiting C. Holmes, who hit a quick two-pointer to set the tone. The Cougars, who frankly seemed to have had the wind taken out of their sails, were unable to muster any points until the 1:38 mark of the overtime period.

Meanwhile, Bugg seemed intent on atoning for earlier mistakes and took a beautiful pass from House in the paint to score two at 2:47. On the next Dragon possession, Bugg went sky-high to tip a missed jumper for a goal, putting PV up by six with two minutes left to play.

No Dragon player, coach or fan was breathing easy at this point as two minutes can be an eternity in basketball. The Cougars got a deuce from Drew at 1:38 and Palmer hit another with 18.6 seconds left, but a free throw by M. Holmes and a late trey by Bugg sealed the win for the Dragons, 60-56.

“I guess seniors step up at big moments and that was a big moment,” said Coach Watkins afterwards of C. Holmes’ basket at the end of regulation to send the game into overtime.

“I’m real proud of the guys for fighting, for getting back in it after a great team [Cougars] made a run,” continued Watkins. “We withstood the pressure and were able to get out of here with a win.”

When asked about his shot to extend the game, an overwhelmed Charlzae “Tank” Holmes said, “Wow, just happy to see it drop.”

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