Tickets are on sale now for Friday night’s Virginia High School League Class 2 state quarterfinal basketball game between James River and Union High. Tip-off time is 7 p.m. in Big Stone Gap.
Tickets for the game go on sale Wednesday morning at 8 a.m. through “Go Fan.” The Union High gym holds 1,500 and James River will be allotted 736 tickets. After 3 p.m. on Thursday, all tickets will be “fair game.”
“We would love to get as many James River fans to buy up the 736 tickets before 3 p.m. Thursday,” said River coach Ethan Humphries.
The winner of Friday’s River-Union game will play the winner of a game between Radford and Virginia High, which will be held at Roanoke College in Salem Friday. The state semifinal will be held Monday at a site to be determined.
James River comes in as the Region 2C runner-up after losing a heartbreaker to Radford at the Roanoke College Cregger Center last Friday night. The Bobcats pulled out a hotly contested game, 41-40.
This one was close all the way, as you’d expect at this point of the season. River led 24-23 at the half but Radford held a 29-28 advantage after three quarters. The fourth quarter was nip-and-tuck with the game tied at 40-40 after River’s Jayson Easton scored with 30 seconds remaining.
Radford’s Gavin Cormany took a shot with time running out that missed, but teammate Parker Prioleau grabbed the rebound and was fouled as he attempted a stick-back. Prioleau went to the line for two shots and made the first one with 1.5 seconds on the clock. He missed the second, but the Bobcats came out with a hard-earned 41-40 win.
“Radford earned it against a really good James River team,” said River coach Ethan Humphries. “We didn’t play up to our capabilities and our guys know it. There’s some things we, as a staff, could have done better, too. We all will learn and be better because of it going forward.”
For the game River was four-for-four from the free throw line, while Radford was 11-for-16, including the winning point from the charity stripe.
“It was painful to lose the way we did at the free throw line on that last call,” said Humphries. “We always tell our guys we have to be 11 points better to make up for situations like that, and unfortunately we weren’t.”
Jayson Easton led the Knights with 15 points, including the only four shots from the line the Knights were awarded all night. Patrick Clevenger had 10 points and Corey Easton had eight. River was outrebounded for the game, a rare occasion this season.
“One of the two games we have lost on the backboard all year,” said Humphries. “I thought defensively we did enough to win, but having 18 turnovers is never a good recipe. After going back and watching the film, Heath (Andrews) played a masterful game on defense. It was a thing of beauty to watch. We’re proud of all of our guys for their effort and grit but it just wasn’t a great night for us on the offensive end.”
The loss snapped an 11-game winning streak for the Knights, who go into Friday night’s state quarterfinal with a 21-5 record. River beat Alleghany in the region quarterfinal, 68-32, as Jayson Easton scored 18 points, Ryan Steger had 16 with four threes and Corey Easton had 13.
The region’s top seed hosted Floyd in the 2C semifinal last Thursday night at Roanoke College and used a big second half to pull away for a 74-40 win. The Knights led just 32-26 at the half but outscored the Buffaloes 31-7 in a decisive third quarter. Jayson Easton had 21, Clevenger had 19 points, seven boards and seven assists, Corey Easton had 13 points and Steger had 11. The win clinched a spot in the state tournament for the Knights.
“Our guys were charged up to play Floyd,” said Humphries. “With it being a chance to go to the state tournament our guys knew what the opportunity meant. Additionally, the (Three Rivers) All-District selection meeting was held on Wednesday and let’s just say there were some surprising results that our guys didn’t take kindly to after a successful season. I wouldn’t have wanted to be Floyd on Thursday night.”
In other Class 2 state quarterfinal games this Friday, Greensville County will play at Central of Woodstock and East Rockingham is at John Marshall. All VHSL basketball finals, both boys and girls, will be played at the Siegel Center on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University from March 10 to 13.