It took the threat of a season-ending loss for the Highland Hawks to finally beat the Wakefield Owls.
Following a pair of regular season losses to the Owls, Highland beat Wakefield, 64-57, Friday during the semifinals of the Delaney Athletic Conference boys basketball tournament on the road in the Plains.
“Really proud of our guys coming back the third time,” Hawks coach Jake Shechtman. “We really responded and got better at things we needed to.”
Previously, the Owls defeated Highland, 45-37, Feb. 11 and, 72-69, Jan. 25. Thus, the Hawks (14-7 overall, 7-3 DAC) entered the tournament the No. 3 seed, while Wakefield was No. 2. With the victory, Highland advanced to play No. 1 Fredericksburg Christian in the tournament championship game Saturday.
The Hawks also held onto slim hope for a berth in the VISAA Division II state tournament. They received votes in the latest D-II poll, but fell outside the top 10 state-qualifying teams, as did Fredericksburg Christian. In the latest D-III poll, Wakefield was No. 9.
Against Wakefield on Friday, Nicky Sim led Highland with 18 points, while Rahji Johnson had 16, Matt Kelly had 13 and Logan Miller had 12. The Hawks broke a trend of settling for 3-point field goal attempts against Wakefield. They scored only nine points on 3-pointers Friday.
Highland fell behind 16-10 by the end of the first quarter, but tied the score, 27-27, by halftime and then took a 45-40 lead in the third period.
Johnson also finished with eight rebounds, four steals and two assists, while Sim had four assists, three steals and three rebounds. Kelly added six rebounds, while Seth Kott had five rebounds and two assits.
Culpeper boys basketball 81, Kettle Run 62
Despite 20 points from Rashawn Latimer, and a first-quarter lead, the Kettle Run Cougars lost to Culpeper, 81-62, Friday during the championship game of the Conference 27 tournament.
Regardless, both teams advanced to play Monday in the quarterfinals of the Class 3A East Region tournament. Kettle Run will play at Loudoun Valley, while Culpeper will host William Monroe.
In the conference title game, the third-seeded Cougars took a 20-16 lead over No. 1 Culpeper by the end of the first quarter, but the Blue Devils responded with a 33-17 run to take a 53-33 lead into halftime.
Scoring nine points each for Kettle Run were Danny Mattson, David Eldridge and Eddie Benton. Brendan Deliee added eight points and a team-high 10 rebounds while Mattson had nine rebounds and Latimer had seven.
Latimer and Christian Yancey also had four assists each while Mattson and Eldridge had two each. The Cougars finished with only three steals while Culpeper forced 26 Kettle Run turnovers.
/ On Twitter @jeffmalmgren.