FINCASTLE – Lord Botetourt’s boys’ basketball season came to an end last week when the Cavaliers lost to Amherst, 77-49, in the Region III, Division 4 semifinal at Staunton River High School. The Cavs were one win away from making the state, but it would have taken a great effort to beat Amherst.
“They were the best team we played all year,” said LB coach Chad Conner. “They were fast, they could jump, and they could shoot. I didn’t figure it up, but they must have shot 75 percent from the floor.”
Botetourt trailed by just two, 15-13, after one quarter and they were still in the game at the half, down 38-28. However, the Lancers opened a 21 point lead after three quarters and never cooled off.
“We had a hand in their face but they just drained shots all night,” said Conner. “They made eight threes and had a lot of mid-range jump shots for twos. We played zone most of the night but they continued to make their shots.”
Justin Goode, who was named second team All-Region III this week, kept Botetourt in the game with 27 points, including three three-pointers. Dustin Hassell had nine as the two sophomore guards accounted for 38 points while the rest of the team had 11.
The loss came just two nights after LB won their regional opener over William Byrd in Daleville. That was a thriller between two Blue Ridge District teams who figure to see a lot of each other over the next few years.
“If you looked around at the end of the game, there were a lot of 10th graders on the floor,” said WB coach Kevin Tuck. “The good thing is, the big guy in the middle won’t be there next year.”
The visiting Terriers had a tough time with 6’6” LB center Lucas Smith all night. When he wasn’t smothering shots he was at least forcing the Terriers to look around once they got in the paint. When they didn’t, Smith ate their shot.
“He was the difference,” said Tuck. “We didn’t have anyone to match up with him.”
This was a game of runs. Byrd got the first one and led 12-7 after the first quarter, but Botetourt went up 24-19 by the half. The Terriers bounced back to gain control in the third period and led 36-33 with eight minutes to go, and it was a dog-fight down the stretch.
Botetourt was up seven with inside two minutes to play but Byrd rallied back to cut the lead to three and the Terriers had the ball with time winding down. Botetourt fouled Zac Hill before he could get off a three and Zac missed the first free throw. Botetourt’s Zach Thacker got the rebound with 4.2 seconds left and was quickly fouled. With a chance to ice the game Thacker missed the front end of a one-and-one and Byrd grabbed the rebound and called time.
Still within three, Hill took the inbounds pass and came straight up the floor. He found Joe Barton open on the right side, in front of the Byrd bench, and he got a good look at a potential tying basket. However, it banged off the back rim and LB escaped with the win.
Hassell had 19 to lead LB as the Cavs advanced to the semifinals, where they would fall to Amherst. Botetourt finished the season at 10-16.
“I was hoping we’d win a few more, but it was something to build on,” said Conner. “We played a lot of young guys they’ll benefit from the experience. It’s a starting point.”