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Blackwell’s jump shots, Liberty’s turnovers lead to Fauquier boys basketball win

Friday, Jan. 31 | By Jeff Malmgren
Jeremiah Blackwell scored 22 points during Fauquier's 50-35 win over Liberty on Friday. --Fauquier Times Staff Photo/Randy Litzinger
Jeremiah Blackwell is a good shooter, but a bad liar.

Shortly after scoring a game-high 22 points Friday – many off jump shots – Blackwell said, "I don't think I am a good shooter."

He showed the exact opposite during his Fauquier Falcons' 50-35 win over the Liberty Eagles on the road in Bealeton.

Blackwell displayed his smooth shooting stroke immediately, scoring seven points in the first quarter to give the Falcons a 14-4 lead that they never relinquished. He took a swing pass early in the period and made a 3-pointer to give Fauquier its first points. Then he made a spot-up jumper on an out-of-bounds play midway through the period, and he added a dribble jumper in the closing minute of the quarter.

"He's picked it up every year in the amount of [practice] repetitions he's had, and it definitely shows," Fauquier coach Wayne Brizzi said the senior's shot. "Every season, he has become more and more dedicated."

Brizzi said the mechanics of Blackwell's shot are exemplary.

"No doubt," Brizzi said. "He's worked on that. … We've had some good shooters [in the history of Fauquier basketball]. Every year you clean it up a little bit" mechanically.

Blackwell also had five rebounds, four steals and two assists Friday.

"That's the way he usually plays," Brizzi said. "If he's making shots, fine. If he's not making shots, he's still … a leader out there. He takes care of the ball. Defensively, he usually takes care of the other team's toughest matchup. There's a lot on his plate."

All the Falcons took care of the ball against Liberty. Fauquier finished with only 11 turnovers (four in the first half) while forcing 26 Liberty turnovers.

In fact, the Falcons had nine steals in the first half (20 in the game), while Liberty had none. That translated to a second-quarter lead as large as 16-4 and a halftime lead of 24-16.

"Defensively, I thought we did some pretty good things," Eagles coach Pat Frazer said, "but against Fauquier, you've got to take care of the basketball. We did not, so we lost. … Fauquier's defense won the game."

Liberty did rally, though. The Eagles cut Fauquier's lead to 30-24 with less than 90 seconds remaining in the third quarter.

"I give it up to them just scrapping," Blackwell said. "They still have a tough team."

Nonetheless, the Eagles remain winless with a 0-14 record (0-7 Conference 22).

"If I didn't know either team and someone told me that Liberty hasn't won a game," Brizzi said, "I'd say, 'You're kidding me.'

"They just play hard," he said. "They just keep coming."

As the Conference 22 postseason tournament nears, Frazer hopes hard play will translate into wins, especially for the sake of Liberty's six seniors.

"My goal was not: 'Let's just prepare for next year,'" he said. "I want these seniors to go out winners. I want them to … have memories. I think that's important.

"We haven't played any [cupcake] teams," Frazer said. "I still feel we will be the second team coming out of our conference" to claim a region bid.

To do so, the Eagles will have to better compete with the likes of Chancellor and Fauquier. Chancellor (11-2 overall, 7-0 conference) leads the Conference 22 standings and Fauquier solidified its No. 2 position with the win Friday. The Falcons have a 10-4 record overall and are 6-2 in conference.

"Of course we've got a little bit of confidence," Blackwell said, "but at the same time, we've still got to stay humble."

Against Liberty, Jay Jay Roberts had 11 points, while Dana Rector had six and Elijah Barbour had five. Barbor also had two steals, as did Spicer Sabruno, Rector and Roberts. Travis Croson added six steals and five assists.

"He just plays hard, man, every game," Brizzi said of Croson, noting the guard's denial defense. "I think it actually [pains] him when his man gets the ball. Normally people don't care about that."

Fauquier forward Lareco Robinson did not play due to a head injury, but guard Dominic Scott got back into the Falcons' rotation after recovering from an early-season foot injury.

"It makes a difference when you have someone you can rely on coming off the bench," Brizzi said of Scott. "Same with Dana."

For Liberty, Titus Sizemore had eight points and seven rebounds, while Arber Krasniqi had six points and five rebounds. Dylan Ramirez added eight points and four rebounds.

"He struggled the first half of the season, but he's picked it up," Frazer said of Ramirez. "We [isolated] him in the post a little bit. He did a good job there and it's something we can go to the rest of the season."

Ramirez and the Eagles simply couldn't score enough to hang with the Falcons in the fourth quarter, when Fauquier scored 16 points to beat Liberty for the third time this season. Liberty hasn't scored more than 35 points in any of its meetings with the Falcons.

In fact, the Eagles have failed to score more than 40 points in 10 of their 14 games.

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