Playing in the final of the Fluvanna Christmas Bash Tournament, the Flying Fluco boys basketball team eased into a five point lead after three quarters on Friday (Dec 28). But, the Flucos could not finish off the Hornets from Orange County. Orange buried three, three point shots in the final quarter and rallied for a 42-39 win. It is the second year in a row that the Flucos have lost in the final of their own tournament. This loss was to an AAA school, so the Flucos were playing up in this contest. After the game, Coach Munro Rateau noted that “they made their shots and we didn’t, and that is what wins basketball games.” He also noted that his young squad “still doesn’t have the killer instinct.” Rateau’s team is, however, 8-2 on the season, which is not bad.
This game started with the Flucos in their usual “in your face” man to man defense and with Orange in a match-up zone defense. These defenses dominated the first half. Neither team was able to get good looks at the basket, and the scoring was nearly non-existent. The Flucos led at the end of the first quarter by a 9-6 score. Even fewer points were scored in the second quarter, as the Flucos took a 14-12 lead into the locker room. Sophomores Vinnie Agee and Jalen Harrison each had six points for the Flucos at the break.
The scoring pace picked up a little in the third quarter. The Flucos led by 23-19 midway through the quarter, when Rateau put his team into a half court trapping 1-3-1 zone. The zone press worked well, forcing several turnovers. On one turnover, Agee went coast to coast for a lay-up and on the next possession, again after a turnover, Agee tossed up an awkward fall away shot that swished cleanly through. This basket gave the Flucos a six point lead. Orange came back with a steal and a break-away lay-up, and another lay-up, when they finally broke the press, to make the score 27-25 with 17 seconds left in the quarter. The Flucos moved the ball around and Agee drained a three pointer at 0:03. The Flucos led by 30-25.
The fourth quarter scoring started with a put back by Agee after an offensive rebound. The Flucos led by seven, their biggest lead of the game. The Hornets responded with two three pointers and the Flucos led 34-31 with 4:40 left in the game. In the next two minutes the Hornets got three baskets and the Flucos got two free throws each from Harrison and senior guard Brad Bullock. With 2:30 left, the Flucos led 38-37.
After several empty possessions by both teams, Orange sunk a three pointer to take the lead 40-38, with only 40 seconds left. The Flucos took a time out and when play resumed they worked the ball to Agee for a three point attempt. It rimmed the basket and fell out. The Flucos immediately fouled and the Hornets made one of two from the line with seventeen seconds left. Agee then fired off a contested three point attempt that missed, but he was fouled. Unfortunately, he was only able to convert one of the three free throws. Orange added a free throw at the end, for the three point margin of victory. Agee led the Flucos in scoring with 21. Harrison added 10, but the rest of the team managed only eight points.
In the opening game of the Bash Tournament, the Flucos easily handled Fuqua School, a private Academy located south, off Rt. 15, in Farmville. In that game, the Flucos ran out to a 40-20 lead at halftime. The Falcons battled back in the third quarter to cut the lead to 10, but the Flucos went on a tear and scored 13 straight to end the third quarter with a 23 point lead. Coach Rateau was able to rest his starters in the fourth period and the Flucos still outscored the Falcons in the period, for a final score of 72-46.
Agee led the scoring with 22 points. Harrison had 19, including two impressive dunks. Dorian Butler ran the offense effectively and contributed six points. Bullock chipped in with seven. Davin Biggs had six, off the bench, in the fourth quarter.
The Flucos now move into the part of their schedule that is mostly Jefferson District play. On Jan. 3, they travel to JD rival Monticello High. On Jan. 8, they host Charlottesville. On Jan. 10 they host Powhatan. The Flucos are 0-1 in Jefferson District play, as they fell to Western Albemarle by a 52-41score in their district opener on Jan. 21.