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Patrick Henry Recovers From Slow Start For 50-43 Win Over Colonels

PH ball handler Jimmy Butler looks for an opening against Fleming defender Steven Jones (#24) Friday night as the Patriots rallied for the 50-43 win.
PH ball handler Jimmy Butler looks for an opening against Fleming defender Steven Jones (#24) Friday night as the Patriots rallied for the 50-43 win.

Friday night at the William Fleming gym, the Colonels masterfully assembled a sizable cushion.

By game’s end, Patrick Henry had meticulously removed all the stuffing.
Watching William Fleming score the first 18 points of the game for a 19-2 lead after the first quarter, the Patriots began a comeback journey that ended with PH pulling out the 50-43 cross-city rivalry win in front of a packed Fleming gym.
“They say you don’t lose a game in the first quarter,” PH head coach Jack Esworthy said outside the Patriot locker room afterward. “But, tonight I thought we might have dug ourselves into too big a hole.”
“Give these guys credit,” Esworthy added. “They were persistent and kept chipping away. Honestly, their effort in coming back tonight was one of my prouder moments of coaching. There were some big-man plays.”
It was all Fleming in the early going. The Colonels dominated on defense, controlled the boards and were scoring from all over the court. In one series, seniors Warren Craft and Steven Jones, along with junior Tyrell Adams, each buried successive bombs from behind-the-arc. Patrick Henry simply had no answer.
On the other end, PH’s opening possessions ended with misfires, two traveling calls, two offensive fouls and another violation before the Patriots finally scored their first points on a pair of free throws by Bryce Cobbs with 57.5 seconds left in the opening quarter.
“We practiced against Fleming’s flex offense, but there were nerves to start and we didn’t recognize what they were doing,” Esworthy said. “I finally found five guys on the court who were getting it done.”
Fleming was still up 18 at 24-6 with 3:48 left in the first half when the Patriots scored their first field goal, and the first sign of a momentum shift reared its head. That’s when Patriot Marcus Terry hit from behind-the-arc, followed by two more long range bombs by freshman Noah Woody that keyed a 9-0 run. Still, Steven Jones’ trey in the final seconds sent Fleming to the halftime break leading 29-17.
Fleming began having trouble in the third quarter, as their offensive rhythm left them against a 1-3-1 Patriot defense. Numerous Colonel possessions ended in ill-advised shots that were well off target.
PH freshman Dominique Joyce’s basket got the Patriot deficit to single digits early in the third quarter and Joyce’s score late in the third had the Patriots to within 37-32 to start the final 8 minutes.
The Patriot comeback forged a 40-all tie midway through the final frame. Adams hit both ends of a one-and-one for Fleming with 1:35 left, but PH senior Thomas Stockstill’s layup with 1:16 to go knotted things at 42. Patrick Henry then finished with an 8-1 run that sealed the deal in front of the shocked Colonel faithful.
“No lead is safe in a PH-Fleming game,” Esworthy pointed out. “Last year we were up by 21 in the first quarter and Fleming had the ball in the final 10 seconds with a chance to win. In this rivalry, the biggest lead is never big enough.”
“It was a typical PH-Fleming game,” Colonel head coach Mickey Hardy said afterward. “In the first half we knocked down some shots and played good defense. After that, we didn’t play at all and took some bad shots. PH deserved to win.”
“We’ll move forward,” Hardy added. “I love my basketball team.”
The PH scoring was led by Terry’s game-high 17 points, with scrappy Jimmy Butler adding 10, including seven in the key fourth quarter comeback.
Craft led William Fleming with 13 points, 10 coming in the first half. Jones followed for the Colonels by netting 12.

Bill Turner

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