by Bill Turner
It’s time for the curtain to rise. High school basketball moved into high gear this week as district competition began. We’ll now separate the pretenders from the contenders as the road to Richmond plays out to the VHSL Final-Four in March.
Over the holidays we got a good look at most teams competing around the area. Here’s a look at what went down in the “Wild Bill Big-11.”
Gar-Field solidly took home the gold in the K-Guard Holiday Classic held at the Salem Civic Center. The Indians defeated William Fleming (2-1 in tournament) in Friday night’s championship 58-51. In the three-game format, Salem went 2-1 including the third-place win over Broadway. Patrick Henry finished 2-1, falling only to Gar-Field Thursday night. Cave Spring (1-2) took seventh place with an overtime win over Hidden Valley (0-3).
Across town, the home court Vikings soundly defeated E.C. Glass 81-56 to go 2-1 in the Northside Invitational, good for third place. William Byrd (1-2) won its second game of the season with an overtime victory over Brookville to capture seventh.
In girl’s holiday tournament action, Millbrook defeated Salem to capture the Big Blue Winter Basketball Tournament Championship hosted by William Fleming. The Lady Colonels of Fleming and Lady Patriots from Patrick Henry joined Salem as all three teams finished 2-1 in the 8-team event.
In the six-team Cave Spring Invitational round-robin event, Hidden Valley and Lord Botetourt both finished 3-0. Northside came in at 1-2, while the Lady Knights of Cave Spring went 0-3 and are still looking for their first win of the season.
In the boys Wild Bill ‘Big-11’ Top-5, changes took place after Tuesday night’s district openers.
#1- Patrick Henry- The Patriots suffered their first loss of the season to Gar-Field in the K-Guard. PH overcame an early 22-4 deficit to lead the Indians in the second half, before slipping down the stretch. PH (9-1) looked good in their other tournament wins before soundly defeating Franklin County 62-47 in their Western Valley opener Tuesday night.
#2- William Fleming- The Colonels (8-2) held tough before falling to Gar-Field in the K-Guard title game Friday night. By virtue of their win over Salem in round-two, Fleming moves up one spot from last week.
#3- Cave Spring- The Knights (8-4) jumped over Salem after their 13-point win over the Spartans Tuesday night in the River Ridge opener for both teams. The win evidenced Cave Spring’s strength when they have a full lineup on the court.
#4- Salem- Salem (7-3) fared well in the K-Guard, but their 58-45 loss to Cave Spring showed some weaknesses against a good defense. Still, look for Kevin Garst’s squad to rattle some cages in the River Ridge.
#5-(tie) Hidden Valley and Glenvar- Hidden Valley (5-5) made amends for a disappointing 0-3 in the K-Guard by opening River Ridge play Tuesday night with a 22-point road win at Blacksburg. Glenvar cracks the Top-5 at 10-4 after their Three Rivers opening win against Auburn.
We close this week with the Wild-Bill Sugar Bowl commentary. The Hokies have nothing to hang their heads over, despite the tough 23-20 overtime loss to Michigan in Tuesday night’s overtime thriller.
The spotlight performers were many. Logan Thomas showed his class and savvy at quarterback. Danny Coale was a MVP choice. In this reporter’s opinion, the overtime catch was good. (The Publisher, however, takes the opposing point of view, though Coale gets an A+ for effort as usual.)
Tech backup kicker Justin Myer performed beyond everyone’s expectations after an arrest and curfew violation forced the Hokies to go deep in the charts. Congrats to Myers on a Sugar Bowl performance that was very sweet.
On the downside, Beamerball calls were a flop. But it gives hope. Tech can be a major player in college football with these guys if the people in charge give them a chance. They need the scheduling the players deserve to prove their place among college football’s elite.
But, as long as the powers that be in Blacksburg schedule the likes of Austin Peay, Western Carolina and Western Kentucky, the Hokie players fight an uphill battle to prove their point to the national media.