Mattson’s shot delivers district tourney crown to Cougars
The Kettle Run Cougars celebrate after beating Liberty, 64-63, in overtime Friday. --Times-Democrat Staff Photo/Randy Litzinger
Kettle Run guard Danny Mattson recited a laundry list of things he didn’t do well in Friday’s Evergreen District boys basketball tournament championship: “Turnovers, bad shots, giveups on defense. I was having a bad game.”
But when it mattered most, a switch went on and the junior guard became Danny Mattson, Liberty killer.
Like a man possessed, or a human drone whose target is the rim, Mattson got the ball shortly after an inbounds pass with 11 seconds left and made a strong move along the baseline for the winning layup in a 64-63 overtime win against Liberty.
“That’s Danny doing his thing,” said Kettle Run coach Troy Washington, who saw Mattson score on a old-fashioned three-point play late in overtime to beat Liberty 72-71 on Feb. 5. “We drew up a play thinking they would be in a man defense. We broke the huddle and thought they were in a zone… We tried to change the call on the fly… Danny took control of it.”
“I closed it, I guess,” said Mattson, who scored six points. “This win over Liberty feels more special because we get a trophy and a banner.”
Mattson’s shot came with five seconds left, leaving the Eagles time for one last shot, though. It was a heart-stopping one as Liberty star Xavier Colbert motored up court and got off a good look from 22-feet that came up short off the side rim.
“It felt good,” said Colbert of his shot. Colbert also had a 3-pointer at the end of regulation to win. “I knew that one was off. I had to double pump and was off balance,” he said as regulation ended at 57-57.
The Cougars (12-12) erupted in glee over their first district tournament title and third straight win over the Eagles this year -- each time by one point. Students swarmed the court and the players lingered, taking turns hoisting the trophy, hugging and taking photos. For the Cougars, who have wallowed through two rough years, it was a night to rejoice.
Washington credited his team's maturity through this season, overcoming a rough start, battling through adversity and coming together as a unit. He marveled at how it ended up with three amazing wins over Liberty. "That's incredible. It was meant to be," said Washington.
On a night when Colbert scored his 1,000th career point, the Eagles (12-12) played another impressive game, but saw their three-year reign as tournament champion end.
“We weren’t supposed to beat them this year, what are you gonna do?” said a frustrated Lliberty coach Pat Frazer after the game. “Life stinks sometimes.”
Both teams still qualified with high seeds in next week’s Region II playoffs, and will host games Tuesday.
No. 2 Kettle Run will face No. 7 Monticello in the Division 3 playoffs.
Liberty is seeded No. 3 and will host No. 6 Briar Woods in the Division 4 playoffs.
Fauquier is seeded No. 8 in the D-3 playoffs and will travel to Western Albemarle Tuesday.
Brendan Deliee led the Cougars with 17 points Friday, followed by Rashawn Latimer with 16, Travis Williams with 12 and Eddie Benton with seven.
Liberty was led by Aaron Patterson with 18, including 16 in the second half, Arber Krasniqi scored 16, including 12 in the first half.
Colbert scored 14 and C.J. Lindsay 11.
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