Frantic comeback attempt fails, Flucos lose to Warriors

By Duncan Nixon

The Flying Fluco boys basketball team traveled to Crozet on Feb.10 to take on the Western Albemarle Warriors in the Jefferson District play-offs. Both teams came in with excellent records. The Flucos at 16-6 and the Warriors at 17-3. One of the Warriors three losses was to the Flucos. 

Height counts in basketball and as the late John Wooden once said, “it is the only thing you can’t teach.”  The Warriors have starters who are 6′ 8″ and 6′ 7″, with 6′ 9″ and 6′ 6″ coming off the bench. Not surprisingly, the Warriors outrebounded the Flucos 34-19. Quickness also matters in basketball, and the Flucos have quickness to burn. Fluco coach Heath Bralley has made excellent use of his troika of very quick and very talented senior guards – Bobby Gardner, Lance Bruce and Tyler Coleman, but they only average 6-0 in height.

In this game, it was Coleman’s time to shine. The Warriors led by 15, 50-35 after three quarters and it looked like the game was over. But, as Bralley noted after the game, “this team doesn’t quit.” Coleman, who was leading the Flucos in scoring going into the final quarter, caught fire and drained four three-point shots. Suddenly, with 2:30 left, the Flucos only trailed by six and the Fluco contingent in the stands was roaring! However, the Warriors are a talented and well coached team. They did not fold under pressure. Two quick baskets put them back in a commanding position and the Flucos fell by a score of 68—57. In addition to height, the Warriors also have a quick backcourt and the Flucos were not able to force numerous turnovers, as they often do. The Flucos won the turnover stats by only 15-14, and steals were equal at nine apiece.

Some sports fans maintain that you only need to watch the final minutes of a basketball or football game. This is not true. Games are often decided much earlier, as all baskets or touchdowns count equally. In effect, the Warriors won this game in the first four minutes of the second quarter. The Flucos trailed by three at the end of the first quarter. The second quarter started with a thunderous dunk by one of the Warrior’s big men. As Bralley noted, the Flucos then made a couple of errors and lost a couple of 50-50 balls The Warriors nailed a couple of threes and with three minutes left to half time they led 32-16. The Flucos scored only seven in the quarter, highlighted by an inside basket by the 5’10” Coleman on a great pass from junior Chazz Barksdale-White. A last second three-pointer from the corner by the Warriors gave them a 39-23 half-time lead.

In the third quarter, it was back to an even game as the Flucos outscored the Warriors 12-11. Barksdale-White had eight in the quarter for the Flucos including two three pointers. The Flucos shooting has obviously improved markedly as the season has progressed. Bralley was impressed with his team’s 10 successful three-point shots noting that in a game earlier this season they were one for 19 from long range in a game. The fourth quarter went as described above.

Coleman led the way in scoring for the Flucos with 23. Barksdale-White contributed 11, and Bruce had 10. Fluco big man (6’6″) Ben Denby, a sophomore, had 7 including a three pointer. He also did a solid job inside against bigger and heavier opposition.

Although the Flucos are now out of the Jefferson District playoffs they still are alive in the Region 3C playoffs where they will be matched against schools of their own size. Those playoffs are due to start on Feb. 21, with the Flucos probably opening at home.

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