By Joe Skinner
Aldie (Dec. 13, 2014) – The John Champe High School varsity basketball teams won both the boys and girls games against crosstown rival Freedom High School in a pair of nail-biting games on Dec. 12 in Aldie.
The doubleheader – which featured two rival schools which are separated by less than three-and-a-half miles and Gum Spring Road – saw two games goes down to the wire, decided by a combined four points as on the girls side, the Knights defeated the Eagles, 35-34, and on the boys side, the undefeated Knights’ escaped a late scare against the Eagles, 52-49.
Lady Knights Hold Off Surging Eagles
The John Champe girls (4-1) took on the Freedom girls (2-3) to start the evening’s festivities. The Knights controlled the momentum in the first half and took an 18-14 lead into the locker room.
“We had to run the intensity. We were starting to let them dictate the intensity and kept putting them on the free throw line,” Freedom head coach Teddy Whitney said.
Whitney’s Eagles made the game interesting coming out of halftime as Freedom outscored the Knights 12-6 in the third quarter and took a two point lead into the last quarter. The game went back and forth in the final frame, with the Knights letting the Eagles back in the game after leading for most of the contest.
“An adjustment that we made at halftime was to attack the basket a little bit more and get to the free throw line, and I think we were able to do that in the second half,” John Champe head coach Will Patton said.
In the final moments of the game – following a John Champe layup to take a one-point lead with seven seconds left – Freedom sophomore point guard Sydney Kim was fouled in the back court and missed the front half of her one-and-one free throws sealing the win for win for the Knights.
“Everybody’s got to take it personally and be accountable and play sound defense,” Patton said. “Once we established that mindset, we got the stops.”
Undefeated Knights Escape Late Eagles’ Threat
Following the girls game, the students began to fill the stands and would prove to be an outside factor in the boys’ edition of the rivalry.
The Knights (6-0) quickly jumped out to a 22-8 first quarter lead over the Eagles (2-2) which silenced the visitor’s side of the bleachers for most of the half.
“[At halftime], we talked about how our effort needed to pick up. We had both of our post players with two fouls,” Freedom head coach Justin Powers said. “We had to work harder in our defense and just shoot with confidence.”
Just like for the Lady Eagles, the third quarter proved decisive for the boys varsity team as the Eagles used it to cut down on their 15 point halftime deficit only allowing the Knights to score four points in the entire quarter.
Following big three-point shots by Freedom senior guard Parker Hall, the Eagles tied up the game at 41 with five minutes to play. However, as time wound down, the noise at John Champe High School during the Knights’ first home game proved too much for the Eagles.
Freedom definitely had their opportunities down the stretch, having two three-point attempts in the last ten seconds of the game. Both shots had a chance, but the Knights pulled down the rebound and kept their perfect record intact with a 52-49 win.
“This was our first home game, and we had to defend our house, and we did,” John Champe head coach Bill Maher said.
Both the boys and girls varsity basketball teams will meet for a rematch on Dec. 19, this time just down the street in South Riding as the Eagles play host to the Knights. The girls will tipoff at 5:30 p.m., and the boys will tipoff at 7:45 p.m.
John Champe Lady Knights Scoring
Blair Thompson 16 points, 7-for-8 free throws
Callie Fernandez 2 points
Ja’che Malone 11 points, 3-for-4 free throws
Alexis Ali 4 points, 4-for-6 free throws
Clara Novalis 2 points
Freedom Lady Eagles Scoring
Perrie Thomas 16 points
Kellie Hartless 10 points
Shayna Wolin 3 points
Julia Tang 2 points, 2-for-2 free throws
Holmes 2 points
Sydney Kim 1 point, 1-for-3 free throws
John Champe Knights Scoring
Kuony Deng 14 points, 4-for-6 free throws
Zach Burdick 14 points, 1-for-2 free throws
Scotty Collier 10 points, 2-for-4 free throws
Owen Cosenke 4 points
Max Murray 4 points
Jeremiah Smith 2 points, 2-for-2 free throws
Zion Brown 2 points
Conner Ryan 2 points
Freedom Eagles Scoring
Zane Evans 21 points, 7-for-8 free throws
Parker Hall 12 points, 1-for-2 free throws
Zach Collins 8 points, 2-for-3 free throws
Chaumen Nnuwaba 5 points, 1-for-4 free throws
Zyan Collins 3 points
Joe Skinner is a sophomore at Freedom High School in South Riding and is currently a staff member for the Freedom Flyer. Follow LoCoSports on Twitter (@LoCoSports) for up-to-date news and scores from around Loudoun County.