Patriots Rout Crusaders
By JACOB VAUGHAN, Sports Editor
Feb 1, 2013, 16:04
West End Christian School senior Nathanael Willsey (15) scans the court during a VCAA game against Central Virginia Home School on Thursday (photo by Jacob Vaughan).
HOPEWELL – The West End Christian School boys basketball players knew they were facing a tall order when they took the court for a home game against Central Virginia Home School on Thursday.
The visiting Patriots started three players who stand at 6-foot-3 or taller and only three of the team’s 12 members measure below 6-0. By contrast, the Crusaders’ tallest player is 6-2 senior Mason McQuage.
Boosted by the noticeable size difference – and another considerable discrepancy in depth – CVHS cruised to a 95-45 victory in the Virginia Commonwealth Athletic Association contest in Hopewell.
“We’re not a very tall team, so size made a big difference tonight,” said WECS coach Jamar Fleming. “Their size overwhelmed us and their length kind of got to us. It rattled us, but I think we got something from it. We got better.”
McQuage led all scorers with 29 points, but his best efforts were negated by the Patriots’ multi-pronged offense. Gage Yesbeck, a 6-7 center, paced CVHS with 22 points and gave the home team fits in the paint.
Four other Patriots players scored in double figures, including 6-5 center Timothy Pittman (13 points), 6-3 guard Caleb Williamson (11 points) and 6-3 forward Carter Danaher (11 points).
West End senior Jacob Roberts looks for a teammate along the sideline (photo by Jacob Vaughan).
But while the visitors bolstered their lead by exploiting mismatches in the low post, they constructed it with a menacing fullcourt press. The defensive tactic – made more effective by the Crusaders’ smaller-than-average court – forced a bevy of turnovers that fueled a 16-5 first-quarter run for the Patriots.
Senior point guard Daniel Johnson spearheaded the visitors’ early offensive efforts, racking up 11 of his 13 points in an opening quarter that concluded with CVHS leading 28-12.
“Our ball handling was not good at all tonight,” Fleming said. “And turnovers were through the roof … It was disappointing to see that many turnovers, but I liked the effort.”
Even when the Crusaders were able to advance the ball past the midcourt stripe, they struggled to find quality shots against their long-armed opponents.
West End’s attempts to create space with dribble penetration soon gave way to a steady flow of perimeter and mid-range jumpshots, neither of which were converted with any regularity.
“They battled as hard as they could,” Fleming said. “But you can’t coach size. When you have guys that are 6-6 and 6-7 with strength and wingspan, it’s very hard to score.”
CVHS led 50-21 at halftime and 77-32 after three quarters, but WECS saved its best eight minutes for the final frame. With senior point guard Nathanael Willsey playing the role of provider, McQuage racked up 11 points in the stretch run.
“If we played the way we played in the fourth quarter in the first, it wouldn’t have been so lopsided,” Fleming said.
McQuage eclipsed his season average of 28.1 points per outing by scoring the game’s final five points, including a rattled-in 3-pointer from the left side with less than 30 seconds remaining.
“Mason is one of the top scorers in this league and everybody knows that,” Fleming said.
Willsey finished with 13 points, knocking down a 3-pointer and two free throws along the way. CVHS improved to 5-1 in conference play (14-11 overall) while WECS fell to 3-5 (7-9). The 50-point margin of victory is not uncommon in the VCAA, according to Fleming.
The second-year coach described the nine-team league as two-tiered, with a handful of powerhouses that are head and shoulders – often literally – above a group of up-and-coming also-rans.
In order to compete against the conference’s upper-echelon squads in the future, the Crusaders will need to develop a winning mentality, Fleming said.
“I think we gained a little respect tonight because of our toughness and the way we played,” Fleming said. “We didn’t give up. That’s what I preach to the guys, but they have to start mentally preparing themselves for these types of games.”
CVHS: 28 24 25 18 – 95
WECS: 12 9 11 13 – 45
CENTRAL VIRGINIA HOME SCHOOL: Johnson 13, Wagner 7, Williamson 11, Danaher 11, Thompson 0, Pittman 13, Yesheck 22, Stephens 3, Horner 9, Shaffer 6. Totals: 42 8-9 95. 3-pointers: Johnson, Danaher, Stephens.
WEST END CHRISTIAN SCHOOL: McQuage 29, George 1, Willsey 13, Slaydon 0, Roberts 2, Grise 0, Vaughn 0, Ellis 0. Totals: 17 9-17 45. 3-pointers: McQuage, Willsey.