By Joe Skinner
LoCoSports Social Media Editor
South Riding (December 12, 2015) — In their first meeting of the year, a battle between the John Champe High School Knights (2-0, 2-0) and the Freedom High School Eagles (2-2, 0-2) went down to the wire. A solid back-and-forth match up between the two teams gave both a lot of confidence as they head towards holiday tournaments, but also more hype for the next game between the two on February 5. But on Friday, Freedom’s strong shooting from behind-the-arc was not enough to get by the Knights as they fell, 78-66.
They say defense wins championships, and defense won this game for the Knights. With seven forced turnovers, five blocked shots and four steals, they held the Eagles to 20 points or less in three of the four quarters in the game. But Freedom stayed in it with a consistent three-point attack on the offensive side, hitting ten threes throughout the game.
“They were shooting incredibly well [in the first half],” John Champe head coach Bill Maher said. “[Freedom] is a very good basketball team and a very good shooting team, but we need to work on our defense obviously and that’s for Saturday practice.”
Big games for Freedom included senior guard Zach Collins with 14 points, junior guard Najeem Edbadi with 13 points along with senior forward Michael Zubovich and sophomore guard Cleo Green both contributing 10 points.
The Eagles went in to the fourth quarter with a 1-point lead, and then the Knights took over once and for all. John Champe scored 26 fourth-quarter points and were led by senior center Kuony Deng who exploded for a double-double of 24 points and 20 rebounds. Knight senior Max Murray scored 19 points and was followed up by senior Zach Burdick who scored 15.
“What was working for us was penetrating to the hole and trying to find the big man,” Maher said. “We had to get everything going, and it finally did work as you could see at the end, we were working on all cylinders.”
John Champe Knights Stats
Kuony Deng 24 points, 20 rebounds, 6 assists, 4 blocked shots, 1-for-3 free throws
Max Murray 19 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 2-for-3 free throws
Zach Burdick 15 points, 5 rebounds, 1 steal, 9-for-15 free throws
Dominic Fragala 13 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 4-for-4 free throws
Scott Collier 4 points, 3 rebounds, 1 blocked shot, 0-for-1 free throw
Carl Garmon 3 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 1-for-2 free throws
78 points, 42 rebounds, 4 steals, 5 blocked shots, 12 assists, 17-for-28 free throws
Freedom Eagles Stats
Zach Collins 14 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 2-for-2 free throws
Najeem Ebadi 13 points, 2 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 blocked shot
Zyan Collins 11 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals, 1-for-2 free throws
Cleo Green 10 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 5-for-7 free throws
Michael Zubovich 10 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 blocked shot, 1 steal, 0-for-1 free throw
Peter Nielson 6 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists
Hunter Oakford 2 points, 2-for-2 free throws
66 points, 34 rebounds, 5 steals, 18 assists, 10-for-14 free throws