The James River boys basketball team won three games in four days last week as the Knights get primed for a deep run into the post-season. River beat Radford, Alleghany and Parry McCluer to improve to 15-3 on the season.
The win over Radford was some sweet revenge for River. The Knights suffered their only district loss when the Bobcats came to Springwood on January 13 and took a 56-43 win. Last Wednesday at Radford the Knights turned that score around by 48 points with a 35-point win over the Bobcats, 69-34.
“Our guys played a complete game and stepped up to the plate to accept what is always a huge challenge at Radford,” said River coach Ethan Humphries. “They were number two in the state (in Class 2) and to go on the road and perform at a high level was a must. The result came from us being locked in for 32 minutes.”
River had a 37-23 lead by the half, then outscored the Bobcats 17-8 in the third quarter and 15-3 in the fourth to win going away. Jayson Easton led River with 21 points, hitting eight of 12 field goal attempts, and had four steals. Corey Easton had 16 points, Ryan Steger had 13 and Patrick Clevenger had 10 rebounds and six assists to go with seven points.
On Friday night, River hosted Alleghany for Senior Night, and it was a special game for the Easton twins who had started their high school careers at Alleghany. They made it memorable as Corey had 13 points, eight boards and three steals and Jayson had 11 points in a 60-28 win. Roanoke College-bound senior Clevenger led the Knights with 17 points, 13 rebounds and four assists.
“Senior Night was a great atmosphere,” said Humphries. “I’m glad our guys got to experience it and we appreciate our fans for coming out. It may have been our biggest crowd of the year at home.
“We are all in love with this group of seniors. They are the best teammates you could ask for and to have a good performance on Senior Night is something I’m glad we could come up with for them.”
The Knights were right back in the gym Saturday afternoon to host defending Class 1 State Champion Parry McCluer and their 6’11” center, Spencer Hamilton. The big guy led the Blues to a 25-18 halftime lead but River rallied after intermission for a 63-55 win over the state’s top ranked Class 1 team.
“Saturday was so much fun,” said Humphries. “We didn’t open up the game playing our best ball, but the fight and effort we showed to scrap back against the number one ranked team in 1A was incredibly fun to watch and coach.”
Hamilton finished with 27 points but a majority of them were in the first half. Jayson Easton lit up the scoreboard with 28, including 20 in the third quarter alone as the Knights rallied to take the lead. Jayson was 12 for 18 from the floor, while Clevenger was 10 for 14 for 21 points. Corey Easton had eight assists and Heath Andrews, who missed most of the season with an injury, had five assists.
“Our seniors had some big time plays when we needed them most,” said Humphries. “Jayson went absolutely bananas in the third quarter and Heath played like a grown man for us. What Heath brings to the table is irreplaceable and I hope all recognize what a special player and ultimate competitor he is.”
The Knights will return the trip to Parry McCluer this Friday for what promises to be another classic. Then they play at Alleghany on Saturday and finish up the regular season Monday at home with Floyd. There is no district tournament in the Three Rivers this year, so after that will be a Region 2C tournament that promises to be competitive and exciting.
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