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Elijah Barbour’s heroics lead Fauquier over Courtland boys basketball team, 46-43

Saturday, Jan. 18 | By Peter Brewington
Elijah Barbour and the Fauquier Falcons rallied to beat Courtland, 46-43, Friday. --Photo By Adam Goings
One by one they came out of the locker room proudly wearing brand new Under Armour sweatshirts that said “Fauquier Basketball.”

Looking good, guys.

“They’re a gift. They’re new and they’re free,” quipped Jeremiah Blackwell.

Given to the happy Falcon boys basketball players post-game by generous coach Wayne Brizzi, the Falcons earned their new duds by not always playing well Friday night, but defeating Courtland 46-43 with a thrilling fourth quarter performance.

Despite trailing nearly all night, shooting abysmally against Courtland’s zone, failing to rebound decisively, and enduring a roller coaster night from star player Jay Jay Roberts, the Falcons (8-4 overall, 5-2 in Conference 22) escaped thanks to sheer perseverance Friday in Warrenton.

The Falcons mustered 11 points in the first half. Suffice it to say, they were headed to one of the worst offensive performances in school history.

“We played hard and kept it close,” said Brizzi, whose teams have a way of showing resiliency when times are tough.

Trailing by 13 late in the third, and 32-26 entering the fourth, they turned the game into a helter skelter dogfight and outscored Courtland 20-11 in the fourth quarter to win it.

“Normally we handle it pretty good,” said Courtland coach Monty McMorris of the trapping defense the Falcons switched to that eventually turned the tide.

The Falcons took their first lead on Elijah Barbour’s 3-pointer from the left wing with 1:10 to go, putting FHS ahead 42-40.

“They were sagging on Jay Jay and J.B. I saw an opening. When I set my feet and follow through I make most of my shots,” said Barbour.

Barbour later snapped a 42-all tie with two free throws with 38 seconds left.

After Courtland’s Juwan Saunders cut it to 44-43 with a free throw with 25 seconds left, Blackwell made two free throws with 24 seconds left to account for the final score.

Still, Courtland squandered several chances in the final minute.

Down 44-42, Courtland star guard Kyle Talley (22 points) committed a turnover when he went up for a shot and had it blocked off his foot.

Down 44-42, Saunders made one free throw to make it 44-43, but missed the second; Talley fouled out after Blackwell rebounded Saunders’ second miss.

Then, down 46-43 with 24 seconds left, Courtland’s Cameron Jones lost the ball with two seconds left after the Cougars floundered around offensively and failed to get a shot off. Coach McMorris later said he wished his team had executed better on the sequence.

“We had one timeout. Maybe I should have called it. We kind of got unorganized. We had three guys on the same side of the floor,” said McMorris.

Despite the flaws in Fauquier’s performance, it was still one of the Falcons’ best wins of the year. It came on the heels of a 67-56 loss to Conference 22 leader Chancellor on Wednesday, which kept Fauquier in second place behind Chancellor and avenged a season-opening 54-51 loss to Courtland.

The Cougars used several zones, and were especially aware of locking down on Blackwell, who they viewed as Fauquier’s main marksman.

Roberts was particularly off: he did not score in the first half, missed a dunk and was briefly chastised by Brizzi for his shot selection. Roberts scored two quick hoops in the third quarter, but the Falcons soon fell further behind, trailing by as much as 30-17 with 2:20 left in the third.

Roberts finished with eight points, all in the second half.

“In the first half I was not hitting my shot, but I did not let it get to me,” he said.

But Fauquier was rewarded for its disruptive trapping defense, a scheme executed thanks to good defense by Roberts, Blackwell, Dana Rector and Travis Croson.

Barbour led the Falcons with 16 points. He tallied 10 after intermissions, including the clutch 3-pointer and winning free throws. He was also money from the foul line, making 9 of 11.

Blackwell scored 15 points, including 12 in the second half and an important offensive rebound follow-up that tied the game at 39-39 with 1:42 to go.

After the win was finalized a big roar erupted from the FHS locker room, and the players eventually came out in the grey sweatshirts being worn for the first time.

Barbour said the sweatshirts were a gift for the team taking 10 charges, but Brizzi later confessed that the thrilling win was a great excuse to reward the kids.

“We were going to give it to them anyway. It was a good night to give it to them,” Brizzi said. “I walked by the closet after the game, and said, let’s give it to them now.”

Apparently they had been ordered but arrived late and were waiting for a good moment.

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