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Kettle Run edges Fauquier, 52-50, on Benton’s clutch free throws

Friday, Dec. 27 | By Peter Brewington
Fauquier's Jeremiah Blackwell was the games high scorer with 17 points. --Staff Photo/Randy Litzinger
Fans leaving Kettle Run’s 52-50 boys basketball victory over Fauquier Friday would probably be perfectly happy to see the two teams play again a night later in the championship, if they could.

Eddie Benton’s two free throws with one second left won it for the Cougars on the opening night of the Fauquier County Winter Classic at KRHS, and sent Kettle Run on to play in Saturday’s championship against Highland, to be played at FHS.

A furious Falcon rally that included 11 straight points culminated in a 3-pointer by Jeremiah Blackwell tying the game at 50-50 with seven seconds left. The Cougars inbounded the ball right away and got it upcourt to Benton, who was fouled by Jay Jay Roberts as he rumbled in for the potential game-winning layup.

Benton, a 6-foot-4 senior, calmly swished both shots to win it. LaReco Robinson’s desperation half court shot at the buzzer was short, ending the thrilling game.

“I knew I was making both,” said Benton of his clutch shots.

The final play was a bit controversial as Roberts insisted he didn’t foul Benton. “I got all ball, the ref saw it wrong,” Roberts maintained. "I don’t like to lose to Kettle Run. They’re a rival… It won’t happen again,” Roberts added.

Benton saw the winning play differently.

“I got fouled. I took the ball low and he smacked the back of both arms,” said Benton.

The fantastic finish culminated a generally well-played game that featured few turnovers, solid defense, a strong Falcon comeback and the topical ending.

After a slow start, Kettle Run built a 31-23 halftime lead.

Kettle Run led 42-29 early in the fourth quarter, and 50-39 with two minutes to go, but the Falcons (4-3) scored 11 straight points to tie it. The surge included two clutch baskets by Dana Rector, two free throws by Travis Croson, a basket by Roberts, and then Blackwell’s tying 3-pointer from the right wing.

Kettle Run unraveled a little under pressure, and also missed two one-and-one free throws, but in the end coach Troy Washington’s team remained undefeated at 7-0.

“I told the guys we had to be mentally tough. If Fauquier is not the top fundamental team we play all year, they’re in the top three. They do everything right,” said Washington.

Kettle Run has played five games without star guard Rashawn Latimer, who could return in January, according to coach Washington.

“Not much has changed,” insists Washington, whose team is 5-0 without Latimer. His loss has allowed such players as Justus Drakeford and David Eldridge to thrive.

“We’ve got eight seniors. Everyone is capable of stepping up,” said Benton.

Benton led Kettle Run with 16 points, followed by Danny Mattson with 10, David Eldridge with eight and Brendan Deliee with seven.

Mattson twisted his ankle with 21 seconds left and is considered day-to-day.

Blackwell led Fauquier with 17 points, followed by Roberts with 14 and Elijah Barbour with 11.

“I’m proud of our kids, we got back in the game,” said Fauquier coach Wayne Brizzi, whose team meets Liberty in Saturday’s consolation final.

Kettle Run and Fauquier next play Jan. 9 at Kettle Run.

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