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Falcons survive Eagles, 80-79, in 2 OT thriller

Saturday, Dec. 29 | By Joe Rummel
Fauquier weathered the heroics of Eagle senior guard Xavier Colbert, who scored a career-high 42 points and made a ridiculous 6-of-7 shots from 3-point range to go with 16 rebounds. --File photo by Adam Goings
Fans attending Friday’s Fauquier-Liberty boys basketball clash couldn't have known their $5 ticket was going to be a holiday bargain, packed full of surprises and a career-defining performance.

Fauquier earned early bragging rights in this ongoing intra-county drama by overcoming a 12-point fourth quarter deficit and escaping with an 80-79 double overtime victory in the consolation game of the Scenic America Holiday Tournament in Warrenton.

Fauquier weathered the heroics of Eagle senior guard Xavier Colbert, who scored a career-high 42 points and made a ridiculous 6-of-7 shots from 3-point range to go with 16 rebounds.

FHS coach Wayne Brizzi called Colbert’s performance “unbelievable,” yet the reigning Evergreen District Player of the Year's effort wasn’t enough.

Liberty led 60-48 entering the fourth quarter, and seemed poised to take the first of their always-intense matchups. The teams played five times last year, with Liberty winning the last three in capturing the Evergreen District regular season and tournament titles.

Friday’s tough loss left the Eagles with the depressed feeling that this was one that got away, and continued their recent struggles. Liberty fell to 5-7 with its fifth loss in six games after a 4-2 start, but gets another crack at Fauquier (5-5) Jan. 4 in Bealeton in the Evergreen District opener.

“We’re up 12 going into the fourth, we’ve gotta win. We had open looks in the first three minutes, and we kicked the ball out of bounds. And things were open,” said Liberty coach Pat Frazer after his team only managed four points in the fourth, allowing their rivals to force overtime at 64-64.

A live-or-die mentality from 3-point range worked for the host Falcons, who drained key bombs and played well with the game on the line. Stepping up for Fauquier were senior guards Dillon Tapscott (20 points, 4-for-7 from 3-point land) and Caleb Lantz (16 points) and junior guard Jeremiah Blackwell (14 points).

Tapscott tied the game at 64. Lantz hit his fifth 3-pointer in the final OT for a 78-76 lead.

“They’re going to shoot the lights out — they always do — especially at their home gym. They’re going to create many problems for us,” Frazer said.

The Eagles were hurt when senior forward C.J. Lindsey (10 points) fouled out late in regulation. Senior guard Aaron Patterson scored 14 points, but struggled from 3-point range, making just 2-of-9, and 5-for-17 overall from the field.

After sidestepping a defender, Colbert had a chance to win the game in regulation on a 15-foot jumper, but his shot bounded off the back iron with eight seconds remaining sending the game to OT at 64.

“We just try and make him work hard and not give him anything easy, and really, I think he earned pretty much everything he got,” Brizzi said.

Patterson drilled an NBA deep step-back 3-pointer to put the Eagles up 67-64 to start extra time. Blackwell’s layup tied it at 72-72 with 19 seconds left. Patterson’s shot to beat the Falcons bounced off as the first overtime expired.

Falcon junior Jay Jay Roberts struck first in the second overtime with his first 3-pointer. But Colbert answered quickly with four points. He drove the lane, absorbing contact with a Eurostep left and going strong to the right. The shot rolled in for a 76-75 Eagle lead.

Lantz then nailed a triple for a 78-76 Falcon edge, that became 80-76 after two Blackwell free throws.
Colbert’s 3-pointer beat the buzzer to make the final 80-79.

It was another epic re-match of last year’s Christmas tournament. Fauquier came from behind to win that one, 77-71, then opened district play with a 63-59 win over Liberty. The Eagles got the last laugh, however, winning the second regular season matchup, 64-62, and prevailing in a special tiebreaker for the district regular season title, 77-70, in a game played at Brentsville. Liberty then beat the Falcons in the district tournament final, 63-49, in Bealeton, to win the season series 3-2.

Frazer said Liberty will bounce back.

“We’re going to play like that for the rest of the season, win or lose. I’d rather sit through that than what I had to sit through last night,” he said, referring to Liberty’s 72-54 loss to North Stafford in Thursday’s Scenic America tournament opener.

After waiting for the Eagles and Falcons to finish Friday, Millbrook won the tournament 59-58 over North Stafford.

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