In reaching the Virginia AAA Northwest Region boys’ basketball final this season for the first time, Battlefield relied on team play, balanced scoring and a tight-knit feel on the floor.
When the Bobcats most needed those elements in the waning minutes of the region championship Saturday night at Mountain View, they were not to be found. One starter was on the bench with a bad ankle sprain and two others had fouled out, leaving senior guard Roman Hall and junior wing Trevor Blondin as the only starters on the court.
Mountain View, down 10 with four minutes left, was able to grind out a 68-64 victory, the Wildcats’ 24th win in a row, to snag the region title and earn their second state tournament berth.
Battlefield (19-9), which by reaching the region final also had locked up a state berth, lost starting sophomore swingman Kameron Hedgepath to an ankle injury late in the first quarter. Later, junior guard Jamison Glover and senior guard Terrell Walker fouled out.
The Bobcats, who opened the season with a 20-point loss to Mountain View, could not muster the clutch baskets in the final minute and missed five of seven free throws in the final 3 minutes and 16 seconds for a frustrating finish.
“It killed us at the end,” Battlefield Coach Kurt Pauly said of the free-throw shooting. The Bobcats entered the game shooting 65.7 percent from the line.
Mountain View, behind a boisterous home crowd that has known nothing but winning this season, scored 19 of the game’s last 24 points in the final 3:58 to earn the win. As gritty as Mountain View was, the poor foul shooting and strapped lineup left the Bobcats wondering what might have been.
“I definitely think if we had had our five in there, we could have probably tied the game at least,” Walker said. “We had it, but it came down to free throws and we didn’t knock them down.”
“It’s definitely a big loss for those three to be on the bench,” Blondin said, at the same time praising the team’s backups. “We’ve been in those situations before, and we actually did find a way to pull out the victory.”
Blondin, too, had to leave the game for two crucial minutes in the fourth quarter when he went down with an injury. The 10-point lead was down to six when he returned.
Hedgepath is not only one of the team’s better penetrators and top three-point shooter (he hit one before he got hurt), he also usually draws the toughest defensive assignment.
“The injury to Kameron hit us hard,” Pauly said. “When he got hurt we’re limited. It’s nothing against [the reserves], it’s how well he’s playing. . . . If we have a full deck, who knows? But that’s sport.”
Blondin led Battlefield with 21 points and 13 rebounds. Hall had 18 points and Glover 14.
Even if Battlefield had won, the Bobcats still would have played a state quarterfinal at Robinson, against the Northern Region runner-up. As Northwest Region runner-up, they will face Northern Region champion W.T. Woodson on Friday at Robinson.
Mountain View will face Northern Region runner-up Wakefield on Friday at the Siegel Center in Richmond, which also is the site of the state semifinals and championship.
Battlefield’s road state quarterfinal will be a closer trip than their last three region games, in Dumfries, Danville (the team arrived home at 2 a.m. Friday) and Stafford.
“It’s a weird thing because you want to win it because you want to hang a banner,” Pauly said, at the time not knowing the outcome of the Northern Region final. “But in the grand scheme of things, does [losing the region final] mean anything in the state?”
Mountain View, led by former Hylton Coach Kevin Brown, is the only Stafford County boys’ team to ever reach the state tournament. Four Wildcats scored in double figures.
Stonewall Jackson junior forward Nicole Floyd and senior guard Amanda Hinton scored 18 points apiece to lead Stonewall Jackson to a 56-41 home win over Colonial Forge in the Virginia AAA Northwest Region girls’ final, the Raiders’ first region championship since 2007.
Stonewall Jackson (23-3) led comfortably for most of the game.
“I really tried to stress the fact to take a look at the banner and asked when was the last time any of them had won one,” Stonewall Coach Diana Martinez said. “None of them had. It fueled them even more to get the win.”
Floyd added 12 rebounds and several blocked shots and senior guard Danielle Burns played a season-high 10 minutes after recently returning from a knee injury. She hit a three-pointer shortly after entering the game.
Stonewall will play Northern Region runner-up South Lakes on Friday at Robinson in a state quarterfinal. Colonial Forge will face Northern Region champion Edison, also at Robinson.