By Josh Meyers
LoCoSports Staff Writer
Ashburn (January 4, 2016) — Over winter break, Rock Ridge hosted the EP Holiday Basketball Tournament, in which their boys basketball team fell just short of claiming the tournament crown in front of a home crowd in Ashburn, losing to Sherando High School in the championship game on December 30.
In their first game against Brentsville District High School, Rock Ridge looked polished and ready for conference play. Using a high pressure defense and a high excitement offense, the Phoenix defeated Brentsville, 70-36, in their first game of the tournament.
Rock Ridge’s excessive scoring stemmed from point guard James Larsen who throughout the first half quickly drove the lane and used no look passes to draw the defense out of position. Forward Deontay Compton was all too happy to use this space Larsen created. Compton showed off his impressive athleticism scoring 18 points, which included — but was not limited to — several backboard rattling dunks.
By half time Rock Ridge had asserted its control, leading 37-15. By the end of the contest, the Phoenix had rested their starters, too prepare for what everyone hoped to be a better championship game — Rock Ridge versus Sherando High school.
The championship game – to take home the EP Holiday Tournament trophy – proved to be a bigger challenge for the Phoenix. A majority of the game was spent with a difference of one between the two teams’ scores. Sherando had come ready to play and seemed prepared to counter Rock Ridge’s high-pressure defense and fast-paced offense.
Warrior guard Jared Miller countered the high-pressure Phoenix defense with 15 points of his own.
At the end of the third quarter the game was a tight 39-38 – Sherando on top. But then it all went wrong for the Phoenix, as the Warriors held them to just two, fourth-quarter points.
“Sherando made shots. They were 15-for-19 from the free throw line,” Rock Ridge coach Jay Geyer said. “They made us pay, we tried keeping them off the free throw line, and we tried to stop their two shooters – Miller and Outler. We just couldn’t put the ball in the hole today.”
Though Rock Ridge lost the tournament, their season is still going well. The Phoenix are currently 5-4 overall and 2-1 in conference and sitting in second place in Conference 21B.
“Well we thought we had an opportunity to win two games and win the championship,” Geyer said. “But we’ll have to regroup and we have one of the biggest games of our season coming up Tuesday. It’s a conference game against Loudoun County High School, and we need to get that win to stay within striking distance of Loudon Valley High School.”