Fluvanna County coach Munro Rateau was happy to see Orange County in the opening round of the Fluco Bash on Tuesday night. Coming off a 6-day break after pounding Kettle Run last Wednesday, the long time coach and his bunch found themselves in a physical battle with the Hornets, trailing almost all of the first half. In a game where both teams wanted to run up and down the court, the officials had another idea in mind as the whistle was blown 52 times for a foul, and behind the usual outstanding play from YaYa Anderson and great bench play from Brad Bullock, the Flucos held off the Hornets 73-65 in what amounted to a second half free throw shooting contest.
“We were looking forward to playing this game because we knew they were going to be the best team we’ve played all year,” Rateau said. “So we were excited to play them, but they were so big and physical. In the first half I felt like we didn’t match their physicalness, but in the second half I thought we competed much harder under the boards.”
Although Orange senior guard Tyler Seal got into foul trouble early, junior Eric Washington and senior forward Alec Miller were able to give the Hornets a strong start as they opened with a 10-4 run and got the better end of Fluvanna on the glass to enter the second quarter with a four point lead.
The Hornets were able to maintain their lead until the final seconds of the second quarter as the Flucos finally got something from someone else besides Anderson as Bullock’s aggressive attacking style on offense helped the home team to take a 34-33 lead into the break.
Little separation was created in the third quarter with Fluvanna sticking with Anderson, Bullock and getting contributions from Taylor Lintecum. Conversely, Orange saw Rahiem Cooper warm up along with Jacob Pugh to help keep pace. Going into the fourth quarter the Flucos held just a 2-point lead.
“They’re a guard heavy team and we’re more of a mixture of guards and forwads, so it was hard,” Anderson said. “Our post players really had to get back hard on defense.”
With both teams in the bonus, the fourth quarter ground to a hault and became a free throw battle with little transition play inbetween trips to the line. It was there in the last four minutes of play that Anderson, Bullock and teammate Josh Smith were able to keep the Hornets at bay, although Miller gave his team its only lead (60-59) of the second half with a little more than three minutes remaining. The Flucos built up a two posseion lead on free throws and the Hornets tried mightily to hit from beyond the arc to cut into the deficit quickly, but could not find their stroke to do so.
“(The result) was frustrating, but I was proud of team for battling through all the foul trouble with some of our main scorers having to sit on the bench for as long as they did,” said Orange coach Keyode Rogers. “We had trouble getting everyone we wanted involved, but to play a team like that that close, I can’t be mad at my boys.”
Anderson had a busy day, leading all players with 27 points and providing 10 rebounds and six assists. Lintecum, despite sitting often because of foul trouble, still managed a double-double too with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Bullock was the only other Fluco with more than one field goal and the junior finished with 16 points and five steals.
“I just like to come off the bench see what I can do,” Bullock said. “I like to see the other players and see if I can pick out their weaknesses and just attack on them.”
For Orange, Cooper led the way on offense with his 15-point night. Six Hornets had at least two field goals with Miller and Pugh each scoring 10 points and Washington adding eight.
The Hornets (2-8) will play Spotsylvania today at 3:30 p.m.
The Flucos (7-0) advance to face John Handley today at 7:30 p.m. Both contests will be at Fluvanna.