PETERSBURG, Va. — At halftime of Saturday’s Virginia Independent School championship, Paul VI Catholic senior Patrick Holloway couldn’t help but think back to the Panthers’ first game against Episcopal this season.
Holloway had been held scoreless in that narrow win in early December. Without a bucket in the first half of another tight game, the George Mason recruit was worried he might once again put up a goose egg, and this time, with a title on the line.
“I felt like, all right they aren’t going to get the best of me this time,’ ” Holloway said.
The senior needed just 50 seconds after halftime to end his six-quarter scoreless streak against the 11th-ranked Maroon, knocking down a three-pointer, and from there Holloway was every bit the lights-out shooter he has been most of his career, leading No. 1 Paul VI to a 62-61 win and Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association Division 1 championship at Virginia State University.
Holloway finished with 16 points, including a key stretch where he scored eight straight, including two deep threes, for the Panthers to open up a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter. The win was the 20th straight for Paul VI (32-2).
“When you go scoreless in a game and they play good defense on you, it definitely brings you down a little bit,” Holloway said. “So being able to knock some down and continue to knock some down I felt good. It was like a whole lot of weight was off of me.”
Holloway’s effort proved especially vital as the Maroon (24-4) fought back from 10 points down with two minutes left in the game.
After All-Met Arnaud Adala Moto (Wake Forest) hit two free throws to cut the lead to 56-48, Kethan Savage, a George Washington recruit, had two crucial steals and layups in the final minute to make it a four-point game with 30 seconds remaining. Savage finished with a game-high 22 points.
Paul VI twice converted one-and-one opportunities, with Tilman Dunbar and Marcus Derrickson making free throws to keep the lead at four, and that provided just enough distance to survive Episcopal junior Doug Chappell’s three-pointer at the buzzer.
“A lot was on the line,” Holloway said. “If we didn’t come down and make our free throws we might have lost it. But thankfully they made free throws. . . . The main thing was we were able to pull away.”