Sterling, Va. — Both teams circled this game on their calendars. For Park View, it was a night to honor their seniors. A game within their grasp against a first-year school. For Independence, it was a late season game in enemy territory. A game within their grasp against a Dulles District foe.
After trailing by as many as 11 points in the third quarter, the first-year Tigers used a 12-2 run to open the fourth quarter to rally past the Patriots, 57-50, on February 11 in Sterling.
“I thought this game on the road on their senior night was the toughest game we’d play all year,” Independence head coach Corey Stitzel said. “They have a terrific coach. They play really hard. We have young kids going on the road. It’s a nightmare scenario here.”
The nightmare scenario took full effect midway through the third quarter when Park View senior center Shiek Kamara got to to hole and finished to put the Patriots up, 42-31.
From there, however, the Tigers started to chip away. Independence sophomore guard Jack Gagen responded to Kamara’s finish with a three-pointer. After another Park View bucket, freshman guard Wesley Williams and sophomore guard Brad Gagen scored two apiece to close the gap to just six. Then as the third quarter wound down, Jack Gagen connected on the second half of a trip to the free throw line before knocking down a three to bring the Tigers within two, 44-42, heading into the fourth quarter.
“We got down 11, and we fought our tails off to get a victory on the road against a team that everybody thinks isn’t very good, but they are a tough, physical team, and they have a terrific coach,” Stitzel said.
Independence carried that momentum right into the fourth quarter as the Tigers opened the final frame on a 12-2 run, sparked by a pair of three-pointers by Williams, who scored 8 of his 13 points in the fourth quarter.
“We’re a three-point shooting team,” Stitzel said. “Some balls went in, and we were able to force a couple turnovers, and it changed the whole game.”
Independence was thrown an additional challenge late in the fourth quarter when both Jack Gagen and sophomore forward Bryce Dolby fouled out. However, after a solid first half effort – paced by 12 points from Kamara – the Patriots struggled to find any rhythm offensively in the second half.
They have a terrific coach. They play really hard. We have young kids going on the road. It’s a nightmare scenario here.
—Independence head coach Corey Stitzel
Kamara finished with a game-high 18 points and 7 rebounds, while senior shooting guard Tahmid Ahmed connected on three triples to finish with 15 points, 6 rebounds.
For Independence, Jack Gagen finished with 13 points, 6 assists; Williams finished with 13 points, 4 assists; Bradley Gagen finished with 11 points, 4 rebounds; and Dolby added 9 points, 8 rebounds.
Led by a core group of underclassmen, the Tigers have a single game left in the regular season before they enter the VHSL Region 3B tournament.
“We got a chance to make some noise,” Stitzel said. “The best compliment I can get from people that watched us play from the beginning of the season is you guys got better. And not only did we get better, we won some games against some really good teams.”
Park View Stats
|Park View||Points||Rebounds||Assists||Steals||Blocks||Free Throws|