Gallery by Heather Belcher
James Monroe did not want to get caught looking ahead to a potential matchup in the championship round of the Little General Battle for the Armory against either Beckley or Oak Hill.
Champions don’t get caught looking ahead.
Paced by four players in double figures, the defending Class A state champions topped a pesky Calvary Baptist Academy squad 74-59 Wednesday inside the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center.
“I saw good things from our guys and I saw things that we need to work on, but they didn’t quit tonight,” Calvary Baptist head coach Mason Ballard said. “The good thing is you get another game tomorrow at 6 p.m. against another good team. Games like this against really good opponents will help us if we learn the lessons from them.”
After falling behind early, James Monroe rallied to take a 14-11 lead after the first quarter. The lead went to 15 at the break despite Player of the Year candidate Eli Allen sitting most of the second quarter in foul trouble.
“You are always curious how players are going to step up at that point and we actually made a little run at that point,” James Monroe head coach Matt Sauvage said. “Sometimes our players rely a little too much on Eli and stand a little bit. When he went out I think that made our players step up a little bit and they did. We then carried that over to the third quarter.”
Crucial to the game separating run for James Monroe was Josh Burks, Collin Fox and Owen Jackson.
After an auspicious start, Burks ended with a 21 points, hitting five of his seven shots from behind the arc.
“After that first 3 that I air-balled where I didn’t get my fee right, I knew I had to come back and redeem myself basically and just keep shooting,” Burks said. “They left me wide open. I guess they were too focused on Eli penetrating. It left me wide open in the corner.”
Fox, who has played big all year for the Mavs ended with 17 points, while Jackson added 10, doing most of his damage in the final four minutes of the second quarter.
Playing just 23 minutes in the game, Allen netted 16 points and dished out nine assists.
“I felt like we got what we wanted in the Eli matchup, but Burks killed us. Burks really put us behind the eight-ball,” Ballard said. “(Eli) is a great player, but we really keyed on him. We ran at him and had help ready. They are just a good team.”
Isaiah Bosley led the Patriots with 23 points, while Stevie Hicks scored 18.
“We watched two films on them and we knew what (Hicks and Bosley) could do. Live was a totally different ball game though. (Hicks) is a good player and I was impressed with him,” Sauvage said. “Our second goal was to keep Bosley off the 3-point line. In the film we saw, he hardly every drove. He took advantage of his height there for a few plays, so we had to do a couple of switches. They are a really good team.”
James Monroe advances to the championship game in the Burger King Division and will play Beckley at 8 p.m. Thursday.
Calvary Baptist will matchup with Oak Hill at 6 p.m. in the consolation game.