Blue Ridge is asking a lot out of Darryl Smith. Not only is the senior point guard running the show on offense as he has for years, but now he has to play nearly every minute of the game and guard the opposition’s best player, no matter what position he plays.
“You should’ve seen the 6-foot-8 guy he had to guard from Massanutten,” said Blue Ridge coach Bill Ramsey. “He’s just been doing that all year for us, he’s got to guard the team’s best player even if he’s big this year. This year he’s got to guard whoever”
Saturday, Smith, with help from teammates, tried to slow down Woodberry Forest’s Doug Randolph and he did enough to hold Randolph in check for three quarters where the Tigers’ senior managed eight points, hitting just two field goals. From there, the Barons held on for a 70-56 victory over the Tigers.
“He really guts things out, he’s the heart and soul,” Ramsey said. “You can tell he’s fatigued, I gave him three days off this week because he had a pull in his hip.”
Smith scored 13 points and set the table for big outings by Leon Straus and P.J. White (21 and 20 points respectively). The Barons built a 19-point halftime lead with Straus pouring in 17 before the break.
“Without a lot of post scoring, we’ve got to rely on him hitting a couple of jumpers,” Ramsey said. “It gets him going on defense too. When he brings energy it’s contagious.”
That proved to be enough of an advantage even though Woodberry tightened things up and Blue Ridge appeared to run out of gas as the game wore on.
“We’ve just got to stop digging holes at the beginning of the games, that’s the biggest thing,” said Woodberry coach Craig Dawson. “We’ve got a lot of inexperience on our team and we’ve got to make sure they do a better job of focusing on that at the beginning of the game.”
Randolph was a big reason for the second half surge as he scored 11 of his 19 points in the final frame. But Blue Ridge capitalized on a couple of fastbreak baskets to hold Woodberry at bay despite the Tigers cutting the halftime lead in half to just eight points at one point in the fourth.
Lester Coleman and Davis Cornett had eight points each for the Tigers. Afanna Offor chipped in seven points for the Barons.
The Tigers head south to take on Fork Union Tuesday in another Prep League battle while Blue Ride hits the road to take on Middleburg Academy.