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Robinson’s breakout performance lifts Fauquier over Kettle Run boys basketball

Friday, Jan. 10 | By Jeff Malmgren
Fauquier's Jay Jay Roberts takes a shot over Kettle Run's David Eldridge during a 62-55 win for the Falcons. --Fauquier Times Staff Photo/Randy Litzinger
Lareco Robinson has to work on his court awareness.

He might have been the only person in Kettle Run’s gym Friday who didn’t realize that Lareco Robinson had an immense impact on the game.

Robinson’s Fauquier boys basketball team beat the Kettle Run Cougars, 62-55, on the road in Nokesville in large part thanks to his unexpected impact in the paint.

Robinson had a career-best game, but afterward he said, “It’s about the same [impact] as every game.

“I just happen to be at the right place at the right time,” he said, sounding more humble than unaware. “It’s just working together as a team.”

If missing shots for Robinson to rebound was part of that teamwork, it proved to be effective. Robinson turned each of his three offensive rebounds into a put-back basket.

Two of those put-backs came during the pivotal third quarter, in which the Falcons turned a 34-27 deficit into a 51-44 lead.

“He played awesome,” said Jay Jay Roberts, who could have said the same about himself after leading Fauquier with 17 points, 13 rebounds and four assists. “He did amazing this game. Best game he’s played.”

Robinson came off the bench to finish with 13 points and seven rebounds after serving as a minimalist component of Fauquier’s offense much of this season.

In the third quarter alone, Robinson scored six points with a pair of put-backs and a layup off a drive-and-dish by Elijah Barbour.

“Robinson was a man in the second half,” Cougars coach Troy Washington said.

The Fauquier forward’s confidence showed in the fourth quarter, when he made rare driving layup. He also gave his teammates some confidence.

Roberts, for example, attempted a 21-foot 3-pointer off the dribble early in the fourth quarter. He made the shot -- his second consecutive 3-pointer – but it was an attempt that likely made Falcons coach Wayne Brizzi cringe.

“It was a pretty wacko shot. One of those shots I shouldn’t put up,” Roberts said. “But nothing to worry about” because Fauquier rebounded so well offensively in the second half.

The Falcons finished the game with 11 offensive rebounds and scored after most of them.

“It’s hard to win games when the other team boxes out and gets more offensive rebounds and put-backs,” said David Eldridge, who came off the bench to lead Kettle Run with 13 points and two steals, also adding five rebounds.

Barbour (nine points, three assists) and Jeremiah Blackwell (17 points, two assists) also helped spark the Falcons’ third quarter rally. Early in the period, Blackwell took a pass from Barbour on an out-of-bounds play and made a 3-pointer to narrow the Falcons’ deficit to 34-32.

After a Robinson put-back tied the game, 34-34, Barbour found Blackwell again for a 3-pointer on an out-of-bounds play that gave Fauquier a 37-36 lead. Robinson’s next put-back gave the Falcons the lead for good, 39-38, with 3 minutes, 29 seconds remaining in the period.

“We hit a couple big shots,” Brizzi said, “and in a close game like that, that’s the” difference.

Kettle Run (8-2) led by six points at halftime because they limited the Falcons (7-3) to mostly jump shots, but the pace changed in the third quarter. Fauquier forced nine turnovers in the second half – compared to two in the first half – and started producing transition layups.

“The tempo. It was really fast. … That’s our game,” Roberts said. “We usually get started off backdoor layups and easy transition buckets. … We never got going” in the first half.

While the Falcons didn’t take great shots during the first two quarters, they made enough – 11 of 23 (48 percent).

“I was real proud of our kids hanging in there because it just seemed like [Kettle Run] had total control of that first half,” Brizzi said. “You could feel we were ready to fade right out of it.”

The same could be felt for Kettle Run in the second half. The Cougars haven’t faced many deficits after halftime this season, and frustration began to show at times.

“We haven’t dealt with a lot of … adversity on the court – where a team comes back at us and kind of punches you in the mouth a little bit,” Washington said.

Rashawn Latimer had 12 points for Kettle Run, while Eddie Benton had nine, and Justus Drakeford and Christian Yancey had seven each. Benton also had seven rebounds, while Brendan Deliee had six rebounds and two assists. Yancey had three assists and two steals.

The Cougars previously beat Fauquier, 52-50, on Dec. 27 with a pair of late free throws by Benton, who got fouled by Roberts.

“I felt horrible,” Roberts said. “I felt like I was to blame for that loss.”

He got redemption Friday.

Fauquier has won three consecutive games since that December loss and leads the Conference 22 standings.

“I don’t think anybody expected us to be where we’re at right now,” Brizzi said. “We’ve got a long way to go, but we’re heading in [the right] direction.”

“We can be one of the best teams I’ve ever played on,” Roberts said, “and one of the best teams in the state.”

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