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Falcons nip Kettle Run, 49-48, resulting in district tri-champions

Friday, Feb. 8 | By Peter Brewington
--Photo by Adam Goings
Written off a month ago after a humiliating 32-point loss to Liberty, and then a second loss to the Eagles on Jan. 30, the resilient Fauquier Falcons claimed a share of the Evergreen District boys basketball title Friday night by upsetting district-leading Kettle Run 49-48 on the road.

Rallying from an early 16-point deficit, the Falcons survived a last-second shot sequence by the Cougars that never actually resulted in a shot. After Falcon guard Dillon Tapscott missed the front end of a one-and-one free throw with 14 seconds, Kettle Run never got a shot off against harassing FHS defense.

The game ended with the Cougars' star junior guard Rashawn Latimer trying to get the ball to teammate Brendan Deliee, but instead passing to Falcon Caleb Lantz with two seconds left. Lantz ran upcourt as the clock expired and Latimer crumpled to the floor.

“We knew they had no timeouts and had to go. We played great defense at the end,” said Tapscott.

The victory was deeply disappointing for the host Cougars, who would have won the district title outright. Instead, FHS, KRHS and LHS are tri-champions – all at 6-2.

In an ironic twist, FHS was 2-0 against Kettle Run; Kettle Run was 2-0 against Liberty; and Liberty was 2-0 against Fauquier.

“You have to give all the credit to Fauquier for their effort,” said Kettle Run coach Troy Washington. “That’s maybe karma biting us in the butt. We’ve been on the victorious side of some close games, and now we’re on the other side of it.”

Lantz led the Falcons down the stretch, nailing a 3-pointer with 2:17 left for a 47-43 lead, then adding two free throws for a 49-45 edge with 44 seconds left.

The game almost slipped away, however. Lantz missed a one-and-one opportunity with 32 seconds left, and Latimer raced upcourt and swished a long 3-pointer with 26 seconds left, cutting Fauquier’s lead to 49-48.

When Tapscott missed, the Cougars could have won, but unlike earlier in the week when they edged Liberty 72-71 in overtime, did not make the final dramatic play needed.

“They got cold and that helped us,” said FHS coach Wayne Brizzi, whose team’s use of a 1-1-3 zone did seem to slow the Cougars' momentum after they raced out to a 37-28 lead late in the third quarter thanks to seven points by Latimer and four by Danny Mattson.

Lantz led the Falcons with 15 points, followed by Tapscott with 12 and Jeremiah Blackwell with 10, all in the second half.

Latimer led Kettle Run with 20 points, followed by Brandon Deliee with nine, and Danny Mattson and Travis Williams with six each.

Due to elaborate tiebreaking procedures that boiled down to how each team fared against common opponent Skyline, Kettle Run is seeded No. 1 for the district tournament, followed by Fauquier at No.2 and Liberty No. 3.

That means Fauquier hosts Liberty next Wednesday in the semifinals, with KRHS playing the Brentsville-Warren County winner. The final is Friday, Feb. 15.

“They know the rules, I’m sure it’s fair,” said Brizzi, who said he’d rather have the three local rivals play off for the regular season title.

That might have been possible if two teams were tied, but a three-way tie requires two games and isn't feasible.

As a result Fauquier squares off with Liberty for the fourth time this year, and the third time in Warrenton. Fauquier won the first meeting 80-79 in double overtime on Dec. 28. Liberty won 71-39 in Bealeton on Jan. 4 and 47-46 on Dec. 30 at FHS.
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