back to top

Around the Hardwoods with Wild Bill

by Bill Turner

High school basketball is in full swing with key district matchups looming to determine district seeds and the eventual road to Richmond. Here’s a look at what has transpired and what’s on the horizon for our local teams.

In the Western Valley, Patrick Henry remains undefeated in district play and is looking to get some separation from the remaining members. The Patriots won round one against crosstown William Fleming in convincing form last Friday and gave Halifax their first district loss Tuesday. The Colonels, meanwhile, are still looking for their first district win.

The Blue Ridge finds Alleghany on top in the early going, but don’t count Northside out in the weeks to come despite Alleghany’s win over the Vikings. William Byrd and Lord Botetourt have young teams and overall losing records, so it will be interesting to see if either can turn the corner and make some noise.

In the River Ridge, Christiansburg has clearly set the bar as the team to beat. The Blue Demons won their first eleven games and if opponents get into a running game with C’burg, it can get ugly in a hurry. Hidden Valley is still undefeated in district play and it’s still a mystery how good the Titans may prove to be. Their win on the road at Salem Tuesday was a big step. I look for Troy Well’s team to pull some surprises. Salem remains in the hunt at 2-2 in district play and 6-7 overall. Cave Spring is clearly in a rebuilding year after back-to-back state championships. But, if the Knights can slow the game tempo and keep the score low they can be a headache.

With the independents, Roanoke Catholic is in the middle of the pack in Division 1 where Blue Ridge School rules the roost. North Cross has had a tough start in Division 2, as the Raiders are still looking for their first win of the season. Finally, in Group A, Glenvar is holding its own in a very tough Three Rivers that includes Radford and EastMont.

Let’s not forget the girls. In the Western Valley, PH and Fleming trail the two big guns, Franklin County and undefeated Halifax. Lord Botetourt is the cream of the Blue Ridge, as the Lady Cavaliers opened with a 14-3 overall record. Byrd is positioned in the middle of the pack, while Northside has struggled to date with only one win.

The River Ridge has seen the Lady Cougars open strong at 14-3 overall and undefeated in the district, yet Salem has stayed close with a 3-1 RR record.  Never count Hidden Valley out as a potential spoiler as the Titans have a history of strong finishes and are 2-1 in the district.  Cave Spring seems to play in spurts as the Lady Knights keep improving.

The Glenvar girls are the early leaders in the Three Rivers with an impressive 10-0 record overall.

It’s rivalry week in Southwest County as the ever-popular girls/boys varsity doubleheader between Hidden Valley and Cave Spring takes place Friday night (Jan. 21st) in round one at the Cave Spring gym. In boys action next Tuesday, GW Danville  visits Patrick Henry. On Wednesday, the independents battle it out as North Cross travels to Roanoke Catholic, where both squads have new head coaches since last year’s matchup.

In the unusual game of the week, we look to last Friday’s Cave Spring-Blacksburg River Ridge boys game where the Bruins prevailed in the low scoring affair, 36-32. Oddly, 22 of the Blacksburg points came from the free throw line. The Bruins hit 22 of 28 shots from the charity stripe in the victory, demonstrating why teams often shoot 100 a day in practice.

Congrats go out from the Wild One to Roanoke College Head Coach Page Moir, who became the winningest coach in ODAC history with his 231st victory last week. Interestingly when I roamed the vast Roanoke College campus as a Maroon in the early 70s, it was Page’s dad, Charlie, that led Roanoke to the national championship in 1972. I had the pleasure of sitting beside Coach Moir and his wife, Betsy, on press row at a recent game at the Bast Center. Prediction here from the Wild One: Charlie could still stir up the sidelines with the best of them if he wanted to.

Likewise, give credit to Hokies basketball coach Seth Greenburg. After a 4-4 start, Tech has gone 7-1 with a lineup that is only 8 players deep – a tough job in any conference.

Now to the mailbag. where last week’s talk of a VA Tech-Roanoke College football showdown brought out quite a number of inquiries. For the sake of space limitations we’ll hit a few of the best (and worst).

Dear Mr. Bill: Great idea for the game. Think my Hokies will look better than they did against Stanford? (VPI fan/ Marion)

Answer: Not if I can get Andrew Luck to transfer to RC for an art history class.

Dear Coach Turner: I can’t afford college football tickets, but I’d like to see the stealth fighter take off from the Boulevard. Which direction will it go? (Harriet/Salem)

Answer: Uhh, well Harriet, place your lawn chair across from GE. Based on the Boulevard’s terrain I’d expect it to achieve clearance around Rt. 419 and bank left. We don’t want it going straight over the VA Medical Center where the Goodyear Blimp is likely to be moored.

Dear Coach T: Will you use trick plays against Tech? (Rob/Tazewell)

Answer: Oh, yes Rob. And in next week’s edition I’ll let you readers in on one defensive play I’ve got up my sleeve.

Dear Wildo: Do you really think VT is going to play your guys? I bet they’re just laughing at your proposed game. (Mark/ wherever Arkansas State is)

Answer: Let ‘em laugh. The challenge is there. And, remember, he who laughs last, laughs best.

I went to high school and college ref Dennis Layman for last week’s basketball rule. The player who makes a shot from behind the arc into the wrong basket: it counts as 2 points (not 3) for the opposing team.

Finally, I want to end this week’s column on a serious and somber note. Last week, we lost one of the area’s top sports fans.

Robert Dean Kemp passed away January 13th at the age of 50. Dean had fought bravely against Lou Gehrig’s Disease for the last three years. Despite being confined to a wheel chair, he showed his resolve by faithfully attending Cave Spring football and basketball games to watch his two sons, Tyler and Reece, compete. A Cave Spring letterman himself, Dean always amazed me with his determination and courage. It’s only January, but I salute him as my fan of the year.

Send your inquiries to: [email protected]

Latest Articles

- Advertisement -Fox Radio CBS Sports Radio Advertisement

Latest Articles

- Advertisement -

Related Articles