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Ice cold Falcons come up short at King George, 51-39

Friday, Feb. 21 | By Peter Brewington
--Photo By Adam Goings
Before the season, the scouting report on the Fauquier boys basketball team read that if you can stop Jay Jay Roberts and Jeremiah Blackwell, the Falcons might have trouble generating offense.

While the Falcons developed into a cohesive, well-balanced team by the end of the year as players like Elijah Barbour, Lareco Robinson, Travis Croson, Dana Rector and Dominic Scott became valuable contributors, Fauquier’s season ended Friday night with that preseason scouting report coming back to haunt them.

In a do-or-die game with a regional berth on the line, the stone cold Falcons lost to host No. 2 seed King George, 51-39, in a Conference 22 semifinal.

Despite a strong gameplan and mostly poised play, No. 3-seeded Fauquier shot too poorly to win. The Falcons scored just five points in the decisive third quarter, when King George expanded a 25-23 halftime lead to 35-28.

Fauquier got no closer then seven in the fourth quarter, as their solid season came to an end at 13-7.

“I think they were mostly in our face. We could not execute at all what we wanted to do,” said Blackwell.

Blackwell scored just six points, Roberts had nine. Barbour led the way with 15.

Fauquier finished with three 3-pointers, one each by Barbour, Roberts and Scott, but none in the second half when the Falcons went a discouraging 0-for-8 from 3-point country.

King George coach Derren Berkley worried that his Foxes hadn’t played in a week-and-a-half, but if his guys were impatient or rusty, it didn’t show. Conference 22 co-Player of the Year Anthony Howard, Jr., hurt the Falcons with 12 first half points and finished with 16, to go with 10 rebounds.

Howard cooled in the second half as undersized forward Sam Sharpe, standing 5-foot-11, took over. Sharpe delivered a game-high 18 points, including 12 in the third and fourth quarters as the Foxes steadily put the game away.

“He’s strong as an ox,” said Berkley.

Fauquier had problems scoring from the opening tap, and did not dent the scoreboard until Roberts hit a 3-pointer over four minutes into the game.

The Falcons stabilized, and played good defense, too. They took their first lead of the game at 14-12 when Roberts made a steal and layup with 6:35 left in the second.

Lareco Robinson’s layup gave the Falcons their biggest lead of the game at 21-17, but Eian Chase’s 3-pointer helped the Foxes lead 25-23 at halftime.

Fauquier’s last lead of the game came when Roberts slashed to the basket from the top of the key for an old-fashioned three-point play to open the second half, giving FHS a 26-25 edge.

King George then reeled off eight straight points to lead 33-26.

Despite gobs of time left, the Falcons continued to miss from all over.

While Brizzi did not mention anyone by name, with Blackwell and Roberts combining for just 15 points, offense was needed from other sources. Blackwell endured an off night and Roberts was enduring tight defense by Howard.

Berkley specifically assigned Howard to guard Roberts, and he was all over him. “That was the matchup. They’re both long and gangly,” said Berkley.

Barbour was Fauquier’s lone double figure scorer. He played well, scoring 10 of his 15 in the second half, but eight came after the Falcons fell behind by nine.

Point guard Croson was sorely needed to bury a key shot or two. He went scoreless.

Croson is valued for his clean ballhandling, poised temperament and solid defense. He missed three key shots in the third quarter, two on open 3-pointers and again on a driving challenged layup after he made a nice steal. “He had a couple of good looks, they did not fall for him,” Brizzi said.

Robinson contributed six points inside, and Scott added five, including a 3-pointer.

King George’s Berkley told his team to focus on denying Blackwell, Roberts and Barbour. “Wayne does a great job. They run that open post motion and get a lot of backdoor cuts. We knew Jay Jay, Blackwell and No. 4 (Barbour) were the ones to get up on,” Berkley said.

Brizzi was a little disappointed that his team was playing its third game of the week. The Falcons lost to Conference 22 regular season champion Chancellor on Monday in the regular season finale and eliminated Liberty Wednesday in the Conference 22 quarters.

But he said his guys did not play tired. “You could not tell they were worn out. We needed a couple shots to fall in the third when we got the lead back,” he said.

The loss ended the memorable careers of standouts Blackwell and Roberts.

“I will cherish every minute being with this team,” said Blackwell.

Roberts said his season highlight was the Culpeper game. “I think we showed we could be a regional team. We love winning, but not everything happens your way,” said Roberts.

Roberts said he hopes to play somewhere in college, and mentioned some interest coming from Marymount University, an NCAA Division 3 school.

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