Typically, basketball teams do not click until the final stretch of the regular season. If that holds true for the Park View boys, this might be a record-setting season.
The Patriots' suffocating pressure, gifted athleticism and patient half-court attack overwhelmed a sixth consecutive victim. This time it was Liberty, 86-50, on the Eagles' home court Tuesday night.
The doubts about this team dwindle daily. In its first road game since losing the season opener, 71-64, at Osbourn, Park View proved it could win away from home and not lose a step in its game. The Patriots haven't lost since that rusty performance, and five of their victories have been by at least 20 points.
Supremely confident in the all-around game of his fine starting quartet, Park View Coach Ken Edwards is running out of areas to improve on his team. While sweet-shooting Nick Smith and towering center Jeff Schwalm have neatly scored the bulk of the Patriots' points with an inside-outside complement, the supporting cast has done its job with equal dexterity.
Point guard Derrick Chew has proved to be a brilliant penetrator who can find an open man in traffic and get his shots over taller post defenders. Power forward Charles Ramey has been terrific on the defensive boards. And, if given the opportunity, swingman Matt Brownlee likely could match Smith shot-for-shot from behind the arc.
Against Liberty, Edwards pulled the top five and gave his second unit nearly the entire fourth quarter to practice the same kind of attack the starters have executed so well.
"It's hard to try and stay within the structure of what we're trying to do," Edwards said. "I'd hate to press late, but we have kids going in who haven't practiced it yet. They need the work."
The Patriots (6-1 overall, 3-0 Northwestern District), as they have in all their victories, used a big run at the beginning of a half to obliterate their opponents' hopes. While they held a comfortable 49-27 halftime lead, the Patriots' 15-2 run early in the third quarter finished the Eagles (6-5, 3-2).
Liberty showed some resiliency, though. The Eagles had won two straight to capture third-place in the Fauquier Times-Democrat Winter Classic last week, after a humbling 15-point performance in their opening round game against Stafford.
Liberty Coach Paul Frye likened Park View's relentless attack to that of Stafford's and was somewhat pleased his players weren't entirely overpowered as they were last week. Still, the Eagles missed several layups and short jumpers. Considering scoring opportunities come at a premium against the Patriots, failing to convert those chances is like giving away points.
"When we play teams that aren't up to our level, we can get away with making little mistakes," Frye said. "But when we step up a level, we haven't understood yet that we can't make those mistakes and win."
Park View (6-1, 3-0)--Brownlee 3 1-1 8, Ramey 1 0-0 2, Schwalm 6 9-13 21, Chew 7 0-1 14, N. Smith 10 1-2 23, Sisson 2 1-1 5, C. Smith 1 0-0 3, Kuhn 0 2-3 2, J. Lewis 2 2-5 6, Johnson 1 0-0 2. Totals 33 16-26 86.
Liberty (6-5, 3-2)--S. Lewis 4 2-6 10, E. Carter 2 1-1 5, Moore 1 2-2 4, Venia 4 0-0 9, Gray 5 1-1 11, Shipe 3 0-1 7, J. Carter 1 0-0 3, Greiner 0 0-2 0, Stroman 0 1-2 1. Totals 20 7-15 50.
Halftime: Park View, 49-27.
Three-point goals: Park View 4 (N. Smith 2, Brownlee, C. Smith); Liberty 3 (Venia, Shipe, J. Carter).
CAPTION: With teammate Evan Carter (15) looking on, Patrick Moore (top right) tries to get control of the ball as Park View's Jeffery Schwalm (50), Matthew Brownlee (20) close in. At left, Liberty's Eddie Gray goes up for a shot, gets a close look at Chris Smith (30), Brad Sisson of Patriots (6-1, 3-0 in Northwestern District), whose reserves got a chance to play for most of the fourth quarter after the game was in hand. Nick Smith finished with a game-high 23 points for Park View, and Schwalm added 21 points, including 9 for 13 from the free throw line.