For video highlights from the second half of this game, click here.
It wasn’t the flashiest win. Not by any stretch of the imagination.
“It was the prettiest effort,” said Buckingham senior Cam Johnson. “But we got the win and that’s the biggest thing.”
The Knights pulled out a 50-47 victory on the strength of a 17-point fourth quarter from Timothy Randolph and Johnson. Randolph put the Knights on his back in the post while Johnson did his damage at the free throw line where he went 11 of 14 in the contest.
“We knew that he was having a tough time so we had to run a little offense through him,” Johnson said. “Getting Timothy into a groove because once he gets into a groove, not too many people can stop him.”
Buckingham had to gut it out against the resilient Bulldogs in the squads’ third meeting of the season, rallying from a 21-14 halftime deficit to secure the win. Evan Smith didn’t let the Knights get away easy down the stretch either as he buried two key three-pointers in the frame — Nathan Mattox hit another — to keep Goochland within striking distance.
“Evan Smith did a phenomenal job for us tonight,” said Goochland coach Preston Gordon. “Cam (Johnson) had 20 points and 11 of it came from the free throw line — that’s too many points to give up at the free throw line from one particular player. But Cam knows how to play, he’s very smart, he’s very aggressive offensively.”
But Buckingham kept plugging along and kept Goochland at arm’s reach even as the Bulldogs scrapped and clawed for every loose ball, creating a series of jumpballs in the fourth.
An ill-timed intentional foul call with under a minute to play seemed set to do the Bulldogs in, but with a miss at the line and a botched inbounds play by the Knights, Goochland got another chance. Goochland set Smith up but tight defense prevented him from launching another deadly 3-pointer before the buzzer.
“We missed a few shots, had a couple of turnovers and didn’t get a couple of stops down the stretch,” said. “I think that really affected us for awhile but our players bounced back and made it a great game between two solid programs.”
Kyree Koonce did a lot of the dirty work for the Knights with three steals, six rebounds and three assists while turning the ball over just once. While Johnson’s 20 points led the way, Randolph was the explosive presence in the fourth with 10 of his 14 total points coming in the quarter. Randolph also hauled in seven rebounds and came up with three blocks. Tariq Bartee, who averages 10.8 points per game, struggled and went scoreless on the night, but he found a number of other ways to contribute, dishing out six assists without a turnover while ringing up three blocks.
Smith led the Bulldogs with 16 points while Josh Hayden chipped in 10 points on the night.
The loss ends Goochland’s season, while the Knights move on to the Region B, Division 2 semifinals against Dan River at Cumberland High Friday at 7 p.m.
“They’re an extremely athletic team,” said Buckingham coach Russ Gowin. “Both teams slash to the basket and both teams have played well all season. It’s a shame it’s not further down the line, but Region B is loaded. Dan River is going to be extremely tough.”