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New faces help Courtland top rival Chancellor

With his team in the midst of a back-and-forth game against Battlefield District rival Chancellor on Tuesday night, Courtland guard Avery Green made a clutch three-pointer from the right corner with 3 minutes 55 seconds left in the fourth quarter.

But after the Chargers clawed back from that five-point deficit to make it a one-possession game almost two-and-a-half minutes later, fellow senior Rojon Mitchell hit the shot that would eventually seal the Cougars’ 54-46 victory -- from the same exact spot.

“The play that we ran, it was designed to keep a player open,” said Mitchell, who finished with 15 points and three three-pointers. “Avery sucks the defense in when he has the ball, he found me with a good pass and it went down.”

Green, who’s also a senior and averaging more than 18 points per game this season, finished with 20 against Chancellor to go along with four rebounds. Kyle Brooks had a team-high seven rebounds as the Cougars held a 29-22 edge in that category.

Micah Cunningham and Delante Victory led Chancellor with 9 points apiece, while Aaron Williams had 8 points and 9 rebounds.

With the win, Courtland improved to 10-0 overall, 5-0 in the district this season and has validated its strong start with wins over two of the Battlefield’s top teams. (Courtland also beat Caroline, 62-51, on Jan. 5.)

The loss dropped Chancellor’s record to 8-2, including a 2-2 mark in the Battlefield. A year after finishing 9-14, Coach Stan Clements has his team right in the thick of the district race, although that didn’t make a loss to rival Courtland any sweeter.

“We know Courtland’s the cream of the crop,” Clements said. “They’re coming in here undefeated, and we want to try to measure up to what they’re trying to do. I thought our kids went toe-to-toe with them tonight, but they made a few extra plays than we did in the second half and came away with a win.”

Besides Mitchell’s three-pointer, which stretched Courtland’s lead to 50-44 with 1:34 to play, senior Billy Rausch (4 points) had an important tip-in with 4:44 left in the final period to put his team ahead, 44-41.

Chancellor opened with a 13-5 run, prompting a Courtland timeout with 1:45 left to play in the opening period after a Victory layup. The Cougars regrouped in the second quarter and used a 13-2 run that covered nearly five minutes to take a 27-26 lead into halftime.

The two teams didn’t separate by more than three points in the third before Courtland scored the first five points of the fourth quarter to take a 41-36 lead on a Mitchell three with 7:12 left. And the three from Mitchell, who barely played on last year’s Virginia AA Division 4 state championship team, finally buried Chancellor.

Alright, so let’s put to rest the storyline of Courtland playing this year without Josh Hairston, who transferred to No. 2 Montrose Christian. While Hairston is a fantastic player and committed to Duke, Courtland proved on Tuesday night -- against a tough district rival -- that the players still at the school are capable of making some of their own memories, too.

“These guys can play,” Courtland Coach J.T. Nino said. “Last year, our second five probably would have won the district, too. So these guys stepping up their senior year, they’re showing they can do the same thing as last year.”

Added Green, “It’s tough losing a player like that, but it taught us more about how to be a team because we have to rely on each other and not just one person.”

By Jason Mackey  |  January 12, 2010; 10:19 PM ET
Categories:  Battlefield District , Boys' Basketball , Chancellor , Courtland , Region I  
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