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Posted On: 03/10/18 7:09 AM
It was another instant classic for the Class 1 State Championship, which has consistently been one of the better state championship games over the past few years. With two time defending state champions Radford moved up to Class 2, it opened the way for a new champion, and Eastside out of Southwest, VA and Lancaster out of the Northern Neck battled it out in a back-and-forth game the entire way.
Two opposite teams, Eastside had a twin tower set up inside with 6’8” Luke Lawson and 6’7” Colyn Sturgill, and it hurt Lancaster early who doesn’t have anyone over 6’2” on their roster. However, after Eastside jumped out to a 9-2 lead, Lancaster pressed them, turning them over and getting opportunities in transition. At the end of the first, we were all tied up at 14-14.
We had much of the same in the second quarter. Lancaster forced 13 turnovers in the first half, allowing them to take 31 shots to Eastside’s 17, however Eastside shot 64.7% while Lancaster shot just 32.3%. Eastside clung to a 30-28 lead at halftime.
In the second half, all bets were off as the game went back and forth all half long. Lancaster found a way to negate the rebounding difference as they battled inside, and they made the big guys uncomfortable throughout the half. They continued to pressure and run, shooting 12 more shots than Eastside in the game. After a back-and-forth third quarter, Lancaster managed to take the lead with just over four minutes left on a Darius Reed three-point play, and they were able to make the plays necessary to hold on late. They ended up winning 52-49, giving the Red Devils their second state championship in school history.
Here’s a look at some of the individual breakdowns from the game.
MVP: Calvin Henderson | Lancaster 2018
Henderson is the do-it-all catalyst for Lancaster, as he’s forced to guard inside against the 6’7” and 6’8” twin towers, and make plays on the offensive end. He wasn’t the high scorer for them, but he managed to do a little bit of everything to help them win. The 6’2” senior finished with 9 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists and 4 steals in 23 minutes as he battled foul trouble, but when he was on the floor he made a huge difference for the Red Devils.
Play of the Game
In a scrappy game, it only makes sense that the play of the game was a defensive stop. With around 10 seconds left and Eastside inbounding down 3, Lancaster was able to get a hand on the second pass, which they turned into a turnover that sealed the game for them. They forced 17 turnovers on the game, none bigger than that one.
Best Offensive Performer: Colyn Sturgill | Eastside 2018
The 6’7” big man took advantage of the size difference from the tip, scoring in the spot with efficiency and dominating in the paint. Sturgill finished the first half 5-for-6 from the field and 2-for-2 from the line, scoring 12 points. He was slowed in the second half due to some adjustments, but he still finished with a game high 18 points on 8-for-11 shooting.
Best Defensive Performer: Colyn Sturgill | Eastside 2018
Sturgill not only dominated the paint on the offensive end, he used his length and toughness defensively to hold down the paint and turn away Lancaster layups. He finished with 8 blocks on the game, 7 of them coming in the first half, and he altered even more shots than just that. His presence in the lane on both ends made Lancaster uncomfortable.
Best Guy off the Bench: Corey Smith | Lancaster 2020
The kid was playing on JV two months ago, and now he was the leading scorer in a state championship victory. The 6’0” sophomore guard came off the bench and gave an immediate spark to the Red Devils, scoring 8 points on just 5 shots in the first half. He finished the game with 15 points, and the coach was glad that he called him up to varsity in the end.
Best Under the Radar Performer: Darius Reed | Lancaster 2018
Reed started the season as a sixth man, but was inserted into the starting lineup because of his ability to shoot the basketball. That was on display as he hit two deep threes and finished second on his team in scoring with 13 points. He also pitched in four steals, including the one that sealed the game in the end.
Best Intangibles: Adam Ketron | Eastside 2018
Ketron was a rock for Eastside in the backcourt, as the senior ball handler that took care of the rock and made some big shots for them. He finished with 12 points, 5 assists and two steals, and most importantly he only turned the ball over once.
Best Underclassman: Corey Smith | Lancaster 2020
The fact that Smith is only a sophomore is what made his impact so special. He did not succumb to the bright lights or the pressure of playing in the state championship, he stepped up and had a great game. He showed that he can shoot the rock from deep, going 3-for-5 from behind the arc, and he made some really tough finishes in transition. He turned the ball over a few too many times, but you can’t expect the sophomore to be perfect on the game.
Best Next Level Prospect: Luke Lawson | Eastside 2018
The 6’8” big man is in the running for Class 1 Player of the Year, and while he didn’t have the greatest game, he certainly showed why he’s getting division one interest. At 6’8”, he’s very skilled on the offensive end. He can put the ball on the deck in transition, he can shoot the deep ball and he’s a willing and very good passer out of the post. He’ll have to work on his body and fill out, but he knows how to play the game and is mismatch nightmare not only at this level but at the next level too. He finished with a double-double of 11 points and 11 rebounds.
When asked about sophomore Corey Smith’s rise from JV for Varsity and leading scorer in the state championship, Head Coach Tim Rice said he had multiple perspectives on it.
“I think it makes me look smart, and stupid at the same time,” Rice said. “Smart because I called him up in time for the last few months, but stupid for waiting so long to do so.”
He followed it up by complimenting his appearance as to why Smith played so well.
“Believe it or not, he’s played looser since he was called up to varsity,” he said. “I’m not sure if it’s because I look better than the JV coach or what it is, but he’s played very loose for us.”
We’ll take you at your word for it coach!