Thurs., Dec. 5 – A putback at the buzzer by Tanner Fix earned the Parry McCluer High School boys’ basketball team a 42-41 win over Rockbridge County in the season opener for both teams on Wednesday night in Buena Vista.
That basket, set up after James Crowder’s shot missed, led to eruptions of cheers from the Blues’ fans, after what had been a tight battle all night. Fix scored all six of his points in the fourth quarter.
In a packed and noisy gym, the Blues jumped to a 9-4 lead in the first quarter and applied strong zone defense to keep the Wildcats trailing for most of the game. Christian Camden led the offense early, scoring seven of his team-high 13 points in the first quarter, sinking a 3-pointer and making two successful drives to the basket.
PM led 11-6 at the end of the first quarter before the Wildcats cut the lead to one with jump shots by Ryan Coale and Devonta Branche. Branche led RCHS with 14 points, making a 3-pointer and all five of his free throws.
Josh Perry put in an offensive rebound and made a jumper to give PM a 15-10 lead, but Omar Habwe and Shameik Ware each drained a 3-pointer to give the Wildcats a 16-15 lead at halftime.
In the third quarter, Camden notched two inside buckets to give PM a three-point lead, and a floater by Sam Armstrong put the Blues up 21-17. Foul shots by Habwe and Branche helped RCHS tied the game at 26, but PM then went on a 7-0 run, fueled by a layup and a free throw by Camden and baskets by Crowder and Trent Boatwright. Branche was fouled while making a layup and converted the free throw to cut PM’s lead to 33-29 at the end of the quarter.
Morgan Henderson made an inside basket to start the fourth quarter, but the Wildcats tied the game at 35 with a 3-pointer each from Branche and Trey Merchant. A layup by Ware gave the Wildcats the lead, but Fix made a putback to tie it at 37. Both teams had trouble producing offense until Fix was fouled and sank both free throws, giving PM a 39-37 lead with 2:54 left.
After defensive stops by both squads, Wildcat Adam Doll-Hennis was fouled after grabbing an offensive rebound, and he sank one free throw. Camden made a free throw on the other end to put PM up 40-38. Ryan Coale then made a 3-pointer from the right side to put the Wildcats up 41-40 with 19.1 seconds left.
That set up the Blues to dribble down the court and call a timeout with 6.9 seconds left, leading to Fix’s game-winning shot.
Other PM leading scorers were Perry with eight points, Henderson with seven and Armstrong with four. Helping the Wildcat offense were Coale with eight points, Ware with seven, Habwe with six, and Merchant with five.
The Wildcats committed 14 turnovers, while the Blues had nine.
In junior varsity action, the Wildcats defeated the Blues 44-25.
For the full story on this game, please see our Dec. 11 print edition.