Holiday tournament does not bring cheer for Indians

Published 3:12 pm Friday, January 2, 2015

The Southampton boys basketball team continues to struggle with injuries this season, and dropped all three games of the Brunswick Holiday Classic this past weekend. The Indians were without two of their top players, Shane Agunzo (sprained ankle) and Darius Bell (flu), for much of the tournament, but coach Sharone Bailey said he was more than pleased with the way his team dealt with adversity.

“We fought all tournament,” he said. “It’s tough to win without them, but we never gave up.”

In the opening game of the tournament, Southampton was able to erase a halftime deficit to Nottoway, and took its first lead of the game with only 30 seconds remaining in the contest.

“It was a nip-and-tuck, back-and-forth game, throughout. We took the lead and they took it back with a runner down the lane.”

A costly turnover on the ensuing possession iced the game, as the Cougars knocked down two free throws at the other end, and the Indians fell to the Cougars, 53-50. The aforementioned Bell competed in the team’s first two games, and was the leading scorer against Nottoway, tallying 15 points and nine rebounds, but even that wasn’t enough.

“He had a good look at a tie at the end, but just missed the shot from deep.”

The Indians returned to the court the following day to face the Central Virginia Homeschool, and Bailey believes his team’s fatal mistake was playing down to the level of their competition.

“They had only five players on the team that played the entire game. I think we just thought that we’d run them off the court,” he said.

The Patriots, however, are one of the best teams in their region, and excellent at shooting from beyond the arc.

The game was close at halftime, as the Richmond-based school held a four-point lead at the break, but exploded in the second half by knocking down 10 three-pointers en route to the 71-47 victory.

“They exploded in the fourth, and one kid hit nine threes by himself,” Bailey said. “When a team shoots like they did, 47 percent from three and 60 percent from the field, it’s hard to win the game.”

The Indians played without Agunzo for most of the game, as he suffered his second severe ankle sprain in as many weeks in the second quarter. He had paced the team with six points and four rebounds until that point.

With Agunzo nursing his injury, Bailey had hoped to rely heavily upon Bell in the tournament finale against Sussex Central. That game plan went out the window, however, when the senior took a seat on the bench just minutes into the game.

“He looked sick as a dog,” Bailey said. “He tried to give it a go, but he just couldn’t do it.”

Surprisingly, though, the Indians hung around throughout, even taking a four-point lead heading into the fourth period. But a late 12-0 run by the Tigers spearheaded the 57-45 victory.

“I’m pleased with the effort in the last game, especially since we were down three players, including Russell Ballance, who hasn’t played since real early on in the season,” Bailey said. “We just ran out of gas late.”

Southampton traveled to Greensville County on Friday night, and will return home to take on Surry this Wednesday evening.

“If we continue to play more as a team, do our job and get healthy, the wins will come.”