By Chris Markham / Flucosportsnet.com
PALMYRA – The Shoebox’s crowd was rocking Tuesday night and Fluvanna’s boys basketball team followed suit, erupting for a 83-56 victory in the Region II Div. 3 quarterfinals.
The Flucos came out white-hot, hitting six of their first seven shots, three of which were 3-pointers. Senior YaYa Anderson sunk two early triples from way beyond the arc. All the while, the Flucos’ defense put a stranglehold on the opposing Warren County’s offense early and never looked back. A solid first quarter put the Flucos up 23-13. Anderson finished the quarter with 12 points.
“It’s all a mental thing,” said Anderson. “You just have to play your game and execute.”
But Warren County clawed back in by battling the offensive boards and stayed barely within striking distance of the Flucos.
“We need to focus on rebounding the ball and going after the ball after we shoot for the coming games but the intensity was there from the beginning and that’s all we needed,” said senior Jake Smith.
On defense, the Flucos followed a simple formula of zone defense and forcing turnovers for fastbreak points, and the Flucos had plenty of those to show for it. By halftime, the Flucos had doubled up the Wildcats with a 42-21 edge. That helped get the big men involved.
“We made some early threes, and sometimes we get caught up in that and don’t get the ball into the post,” said Fluvanna head coach Munro Rateau, who netted career win 475.
In the third quarter, Warren kept pace but weren’t able to significantly close the gap, outscoring the Flucos 15-14 in the frame. Fluvanna spread the wealth in the second half, getting freshmen Jalen Harrison and Vinny Agee the ball. The tandem finished the night with 16 and 11 points, respectively.
“They did what they were supposed to do and hopefully that will carry over to Thursday night,” said Rateau.
Warren hit four straight 3-pointers in the fourth quarter. Fluvanna countered with Dorian Butler, Chris Lacey and Alex Brooks baskets from deep.
Anderson finished the night with 26 points including seven from deep, six rebounds, six assists and five steals.
The Flucos (21-3) face off one last time against Jefferson District rival Charlottesville, who bumped Fluvanna out of the district tournament. The winner will gain a bid to the state tournament and will play in the Region II Div. 3 championship.
“We have to come out, rebound and play with a high intensity,” said Anderson on facing the Black Knights.
Thursday’s clash with a state tournament berth on the line this time is set for 7 p.m. in Palmyra.