The first half and the start of the second went almost too well for Woodberry Forest. With an 18-0 run to close the second quarter that all but put away the game against visiting Collegiate, the Tigers hardly struggled to hold to a 58-45 win. Nonetheless, a second half effort from the Cougars that nearly cut the game to a single-digit margin left Woodberry happy with the win, but confident that they could do better as the Prep League tournament nears.
“We’ve got to move the basketball around and I really think that’s when anybody is at their best,” said Woodberry coach Joel Justus. “You have to have good continuity moving the ball around, but unfortunately they took us out of a rhythm their in the second half. As a team, as coaches, we probably needed to do a better job of being prepared for the defense they threw at us there.”
With big forward Jack Flournoy showing great versatility in the post, and occasionally stepping out and knocking down mid-range jumpers and a 3-pointer, that opened up the floor for Woodberry’s guards to get wide open looks. For the first two and a half quarters, the Tigers didn’t miss much with James Long and Marshall Deal, and also left the door open for Ziggy Vrana on cuts inside.
“We were moving the ball really well and getting it to everybody by driving and then pitching out,” Flournoy said. “Guys hit their shots and so it just all clicked together.”
The Tigers opened the game with a 9-2 start and went up by 11 to finish the first quarter. The second quarter saw the Cougars try and stay close behind the shooting of Caleb Newcomb, and while Collegiate got to within five points of the lead midway through the second frame, Woodberry scored 18 straight to finish out the half playing its best basketball of the night.
“It gives you a lot more motivation driving to the hole when you can stop and kick it out and have everyone hit their shots,” Flournoy said. “That gives (our post players) more confidence inside.”
The Tigers got up by 27 early in the third, and with the game in hand slowed down the pace and worked in their bench. But Newcomb single handedly kept his team from being snuffed out the rest of the way as he poured in 3-pointers to make it a 17-point contest going into the fourth, and a 11-point game late in the fourth.
Woodberry held strong though in the end, chewing up the clock and not allowing Collegiate to make it a battle down the stretch.
While Newcomb led all scorers with 23 points fueled by seven shots converted from beyond the arc, the Tigers brought a balanced attack. Long’s five three’s paced a team best 17 points. Flournoy added 16 and threw in six rebounds as well. Deal’s 11 points gave the Tigers with three players in double figures. Vrana almost made it four on the roster with double-digit scoring, finsing with nine points. Those four accounted for all but five points for their team, with the remainder going to forward Kevin Chisseu how also had five rebounds.
“I think all these guys are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and are playing (the rest of the regular season) with a sense of urgency,” Justus said. “I thought that showed in their play tonight.”
The Tigers (8-14, 6-5) will face STAB on the road on Friday at 5:30 p.m. to finish out the regular season.