The Blue Ridge District boys basketball tournament will be a two-day affair next week and it’s going to be a good one. The four-team tournament will begin Tuesday at the sites of the top two seeds.
At press time, the only thing certain was that Lord Botetourt, William Fleming and Northside will be included and Staunton River is out. William Byrd and Franklin County were battling for the fourth spot and will play each other in Vinton Friday in a key game.
The tournament was originally going to include all six teams, but a plethora of makeup games pushed back the regular season so it was decided to can the first round and include only the top four teams. Coming into the week, Fleming and Northside were 7-1 in the district and LB was 6-2. Both of Botetourt’s losses were to Northside, but LB has a win over Fleming and will play the Colonels again at home Thursday. Northside’s only district loss was to Fleming and they were scheduled to play again in Roanoke Tuesday, but results were too late for publication.
Lord Botetourt is 14-6 overall after a busy stretch last week. The Cavaliers opened with a 67-55 win over Franklin County in Rocky Mount last Tuesday. Ashton Bramblett led four Cavaliers in double figures with 17 as Tyler Meade had a dozen and Evan Bannwart and Jackson Crawford scored 10 each. Conner Tilley had seven rebounds and seven assists.
On Friday, Tilley had 21 to lead LB to a 65-48 win over Staunton River in Moneta. Conner hit five of nine three-point attempts and was perfect from the line, adding a team-high eight rebounds. Crawford had 15 points and Bannwart had 10.
“Staunton River improved a lot since our first meeting,” said LB coach Andrew Hart. “They played hard the entire game. Fortunately, we were able to pull away in the end and improve in the process.”
On Saturday the Cavaliers played in the “Adam Ward Classic” at Glenvar High School. The Cavs played the second to last game in the seven-game Saturday schedule against 18-1 Cave Spring, and LB put a scare into the Knights before losing 66-63.
This game was the highlight of the day. A packed gym watched the two talented Class 3 teams duke it out, with people lined up on the wall under the basket and straining to see through the doorways.
Cave Spring led 15-12 after the first quarter and 28-27 at the half, but Botetourt won the third quarter and took a 40-37 lead into the final stanza and it was touch-and-go the rest of the way. The score was tied at 63-63 when Cave Spring’s Owyn Dawyot hit a three from the corner with five seconds to go. After a timeout, Crawford got a decent look at a three to tie it but the ball wouldn’t go down and the Knights escaped with the win.
“This game was an absolute blast to be a part of,” said Hart. “Cave Spring has the best, if not one of the best, teams in the state. Our goal was to prove we belonged and we did more than that. We had some great individual performances by Ashton Bramblett and Conner Tilley. Both teams competed until the end. Hopefully, we will see them again in the region tournament and give ourselves another chance to come out on top.”
Bramblett finished with 21 points and Tilley had 20, while the two combined to hit nine of 13 three-point attempts. Tilley led with eight rebounds and Bryce Harrison had five assists, starting in place of injured Dylan Salvi.
The Cavaliers will now wrap up the regular season with two district games this week, hoping the cards fall their way for a first round home game in the BRD semifinals next Tuesday. The Cavaliers were home to Byrd on Tuesday and on Thursday they host Fleming for the last game of the regular season.