Lancaster’s Taj Smith (11) and Tykwon Redmond (1) defend a shot by Essex High’s Keith Bundy during a regional semifinal game. Photo by Lisa Hinton-Valdrighi
After beating Essex by a point, 50-49, on February 15 in the Northern Neck District tournament championship, Northumberland returned to Lancaster High's gymnasium last Saturday night to again edge the Trojans, 60-59, for the Region A, Division 2 title and a host berth in the state tournament.
The Indians were the underdog in both tournaments after finishing fourth in the district regular season standings. They take a 16-11 record into tomorrow night's (March 1) 8:30 p.m. state quarterfinal against Region B runner-up William Monroe at the VCU Siegel Center in Richmond.
Essex, which takes an 8-12 record into the state tournament, will travel to the Salem Civic Center on Saturday, March 2, for an 11:45 a.m. game against Region B champion Dan River.
Unlike the last time the Indians and Trojans met, there was no flip-flop of control. Instead, the Indians went up 16-9 after Wesley Jackson hit his third straight three-pointer to beat the first-quarter buzzer and led the remainder of the game, even if it was occasionally by a narrow margin.
Jackson nailed his fourth trey of the night with 5:52 to play in the second to give the Indians their biggest lead of the game at 12 points, 23-11.
Essex made a quick 5-0 run late in the second to get as close as seven before Northumberland put up a 9-5 run that included a hook shot at the buzzer by Jackson for a 36-25 halftime lead.
Keith Bundy sparked a third-quarter comeback by the Trojans, who got as close as four, 47-43, when Alonzo Tompkins sank two free throws to cap a 13-4 run.
Bundy opened the fourth with a three-pointer for Essex and the Trojans reeled off a quick 7-3 run to pull within two, 52-50, with 5:30 to play.
Tompkins had a chance to tie at the line but hit one of two for a 52-51 NHS advantage.
Jackson sank a layup and Kyle Elmore drilled a couple of free throws with 2:02 to play as Northumberland started to pull away again, 58-52, before Hammond drilled a three and the Trojans hit two free throws to trail the Indians 58-57 with seven seconds to play.
Elmore sank two from the foul line to make it a three-point game, 60-57, with five seconds to go and Hammond took a rebound back up at the buzzer for the final points.
Bundy had the game-high 25 points, Tompkins added 13 and Hammond had 10 for the Trojans.
Lewis led Northumberland with 18 points and tournament MVP Jackson chipped in 16. Bundy added 12.
Northumberland earned a shot at the regional title with a 64-49 win over Nandua in the semifinals. The Indians beat Northampton, 91-51, in a quarterfinal game.
Essex eliminated Lancaster, 66-47, in the semifinals. The Trojans broke open a tie ballgame late in the first half and outscored the hosts by eight points in the third.
The Devils got eight points from Tyler Colding and six from Tykwon Redmond to take an 18-12 lead after the first quarter, then opened with a quick four unanswered to go up 21-12 early in the second.
Bundy hit two at the line then got a second chance shot to cut Lancaster's lead to four, 21-18, with 4:32 to go in the first half. Bundy scored eight in the period as Essex ended the half down a point, 27-26.
The Trojans took their first lead since the first quarter when Bundy stole an inbounds by LHS and took it up for a 32-31 go-ahead. The two teams traded shots for two ties and another lead change before Hammond hit two free throws and CJ Jones drilled a three-pointer with two seconds left in the third for a 43-36 Essex lead.
Jones hit the opening bucket of the fourth and Colding nailed a three for the Devils before fouling out. Essex led by 10 with 5:18 to go and the Devils started to unravel. The Trojans outscored the Devils, 23-11, in the final eight minutes and hit 13 of 20 foul shots. Lancaster trailed by 15 with 2:31 remaining when coach Tim Rice went with a full-scale subsitution.
Essex's Bundy led all scorers with 25 points and Colding put up 19 to lead the Devils.
Colding led Lancaster with 22 points in a 79-55 blowout of Arcadia in a tournament quarterfinal.
Jovante Smith and Taj Smith contributed 16 each in a balanced attack for the Devils. Rice got scoring from nine different players.
Lancaster opened up a tie game with a 25-11 second-quarter run to go up 44-27 at the half. The Devils outscored the visiting Firebirds 22-12 in the third to put the contest out of reach.