Fauquier 70, Liberty 63
Fauquier senior Kevin Kelley stepped to the foul line and promptly missed his first foul shot midway through the second quarter of a game against host Liberty on Friday night. That was the last, and only, time the Falcons missed a free throw in a 70-63 victory before a capacity crowd of 1,500 in Bealeton.
With the victory, Fauquier (8-1, 4-0) claimed first place in the AA Northwestern District. And it did so largely because the team made its last 22 foul shots after Kelley missed the first. The Falcons finished 22 of 23 for the game.
Fauquier also made all 14 foul shots in the fourth quarter. Senior Nathan Johnson finished with a game-high 23 points and made six free throws in the final quarter.
"We shoot free throws for 10 minutes every day in practice," Johnson said. "And usually, we do it after we've been running for a while. We know we have to do it. We weren't thinking about how big the shots were or about the crowd; we knew what we had to do.
"It's nice to come into big games and be prepared enough that we know we can make those."
Liberty (9-2, 4-1) took its largest lead at 19-8 after a basket by junior transfer Davon Deans with 1 minute 13 seconds left in the first quarter. The Eagles held the lead until Kelley made a tap-in basket for a 36-34 advantage with 4:13 left in the third quarter.
Fauquier extended its lead to 64-56 after two foul shots by junior Dwayne Foddrell with 58 seconds to play in the game.
Liberty junior A.J. Brown then scored seven of the game's next nine points, and the Eagles closed to 66-63 after two foul shots by Brown with 20 seconds left.
In the end, though, Fauquier held on because Johnson made four foul shots to end the game.
"They have a bunch of seniors, and we don't," Liberty Coach Paul Frye said. "Hopefully we'll learn from this and get after it next time. . . . I told the team it's just a regular-season loss. If this is the worst thing that happens to them this weekend, they'll be fine."
Deans finished with 20 points, and Carrington added 15. Deans, the team's point guard, also guarded Kelley for most of the game. Kelley finished with 14 points -- 12 in the decisive second half -- before he fouled out in the final two minutes.
"Our team played pretty well," Kelley said. "We picked up the defense in the second quarter."
The capacity crowd cheered every basket and hooted every whistle from the referees -- and that was during the junior varsity game, 30 minutes before the varsity played.
"We kept looking out during the JV game to see the crowd," Johnson said. "It was pretty cool to play in front of a crowd like that."