James River will play host to the Conference 38 basketball tournament next week, and the host Knights will have a good one for openers.
River will take on Glenvar next Wednesday, Feb. 15, in the tournament opener.
The five-team conference tournament will open with a “play-in” game between fourth seeded Giles and fifth seeded Floyd County, at Giles. The winner of that game will play top-seeded Martinsville in the first game of a doubleheader on Wednesday, Feb. 15, in Springwood. The second game will feature second seeded Glenvar against third seeded James River.
The Knights were hoping to get at least the third seed to avoid playing Martinsville in the semifinals. Both finalists make the regional, and Martinsville figures to be the toughest team to beat.
While Glenvar will be the higher seed for the other semifinal game, that’s no disadvantage to James River. In fact, the Knights get to play on their home floor for that game, with the only difference being they’ll wear black instead of their normal white home uniforms. Glenvar beat River twice during the season but Knights coach Mike Goad is hoping the third time is the charm.
The Knights will go into the tournament with a 9-11 record. They were scheduled to play at Auburn on Thursday of this week in a game rescheduled from last Friday due to an outbreak of chicken pox at Auburn High School. However, the Eagles decided to cancel the rest of their regular season and hope to have enough healthy bodies for the playoffs.
River’s final game of the regular season was a 69-54 loss at Radford on Monday. The Knights trailed just 27-24 at the half but ran into foul trouble down the stretch. Host Radford shot 33 foul shots to River’s 11, and the Bobcats made 23.
“I don’t think they had more than two field goals in the fourth quarter,” said Goad. “You can’t defend the foul line.”
Luke Harman led River with 17 points and six assists. Darious Cheatwood had 13 points and Jacob Wagner had 12 points and eight boards.
River wrapped up the third seed in the conference with a 59-51 win at Floyd County last week. Harman had 18 points and eight rebounds, Cheatwood had 15 and five and Wagner had 10 points, six boards and four assists.
“We did a good job controlling the tempo,” said Goad. “That was a game we needed to win.”