Apparently at the top of the Virginia Independent Conference, all that matters is who’s playing at home.
And on Thursday, who has Andrew White.
White exploded for 33 points, scoring all of Miller’s 21 first quarter points in a dominant, near-unstoppable performance to lead the Mavericks to a 75-63 victory over Virginia Episcopal.
Miller, VES and Blue Ridge are locked in what amounts to a round-robin tournament during the regular season for the VIC title, and with four of the six games between the three in the books, the home team has won all four, with Blue Ridge and VES splitting on the year while the Barons topped Miller last week.
Thursday, White kept the Mavericks’ conference championship hopes alive with his scoring rampage, burying five 3-pointers in the opening frame.
“I’ve never seen that,” said Miller coach Scott Willard. “I’ve seen kids get hot, but to stay continually hot…you can see why he’s a high major player.”
White took advantage of VES’s strategy to go with a 2-3 zone out of the gate. The approach was a big boost for the Bishops in recent wins over Blue Ridge and Benedictine, but White took it apart from the opening tip, and, as he often does, the Kansas-bound senior saw the bigger picture.
“They played a 2-3 zone which is a big opportunity for shooters to get going and my teammates did a good job finding me,” White said. “It made them adjust and then you started seeing shots go up for other players. And every quick start we’ve had, I think we’ve won since I’ve been here.”
White’s teammate Chase Cannon took advantage of the shift to the Bishops’ shift to a diamond and one set more than anyone as he caught fire in the second and third quarters and knocked down four 3-pointers in those two frames en route to a 16-point night. Cannon’s own string of baskets helped Miller build an 8-point halftime and extend it to a 13-point advantage by the end of the third.
Defensively, the Mavericks (14-5) struggled like most teams have this season to contain Ifeanyi Onyekaba, the Bishops’ 6-foot-8 standout power forward being recruited by a number of big-time Division I schools. Onyekaba posted a double double with 22 points and 11 rebounds.
“We don’t have the horses to stop a kid that powerful down there,” Willard said “We tried to double team him a bit but he is that good. Our guys need to learn from that to see what that kind of toughness (looks like).”
VES senior Luka Vasic also gave the Mavericks trouble, piling up 21 points and Anthony Swann finished with 11 points on the night.
The Bishops and Mavericks won’t have to wait long for a rematch—the two squads square off again in less than two weeks on February 7.