March Madness: Lancaster plays for state championship Friday


Lancaster’s Santese Ball gets by Riverheads’ defender Bradley Roberts during the state quarterfinal last Saturday. Photo by Lisa Hinton-Valdrighi

by Lisa Hinton-Valdrighi

The Lancaster High School Red Devils came away with convincing quarterfinal and semifinal victories in the state playoffs and now are headed to the Group 1 championship game at 4 p.m. Friday, March 9. The Devils will play Eastside in the state final at the VCU Siegel Center in Richmond.

Lancaster 53, Northumberland 42

Lancaster’s Martez Davis scored 23 points and Calvin “Charlie” Henderson put up 12 as the Red Devils raced by Northumberland, 53-42, Tuesday on their way to the Group 1 boys basketball championship game.

Some 1,600 fans crammed into the gymnasium at King William High School for the state semifinal game between the Northern Neck District rivals.

Lancaster held Northumberland to four points in the second quarter to take a 29-14 lead at the half. The Devils took the lead midway through the first and never trailed again. LHS shot 43% from the floor and the Indians struggled to find the net with a 27% shooting average.

Christian Rich scored 17 points to lead Northumberland.

Lancaster County schools will be closed Friday so that fans may attend the championship game. The ticket price is $10.

Pep buses for high school students only will be departing from the high school after noon on Friday. The fee and departure time had not been determined at press time.

Lancaster 69, Riverheads 49

The Gladiators used all the weapons in their arsenal Saturday but couldn’t win the battle against the quicker, more experienced Red Devils.

Region B’s Riverheads got as close as two points in the third quarter of the Group 1 boys quarterfinal game before Lancaster went on a 12-4 run to pull away for a 69-49 win at Washington & Lee High School in Montross. The Devils rallied behind seniors Calvin “Charlie” Henderson, Martez Davis and Darius Reed.

Lancaster had led by as much as 12 in the first half and held a six-point lead at the break before allowing Riverheads a 9-5 run to cut the Devils’ lead to 36-34.

“That’s part of the game, unfortunately,” said LHS coach Tim Rice. “They got on a run and got some confidence. But then we got on a run and Charlie got hot. He had that determination.”

Lancaster’s up-tempo offense and smothering defense had the Gladiators visibly shaken in the first quarter. After Riverheads scored the opening goal, Lancaster went on a 12-2 run and held a 20-8 lead after the first quarter with six points from Henderson and four from Santese Ball.

The Gladiators whittled away at the LHS lead in the second with a 13-4 run that included a steal and coast-to-coast layup by RHS sophomore Braeson Fulton. The run cut the LHS lead to three but Davis came up with a quick three for Lancaster on a stick back and the second of two free throws and Corey Smith capped the half with a jumper to give the Devils a 31-25 advantage at the break.

Grant Painter and Elijah Dunlap hit back-to-back threes for the Gladiators in the third to pull within two, 36-34, before LHS decided to shake the Region B team for good.

Henderson hit two at charity line and Reed drilled his second three of the quarter to open up a 15-4 run in a two-minute span.

“We were pressing them and forced them to play up tempo. It was obvious they were frazzled in the fourth quarter,” said Rice. “And luckily, the trap was working. But our problem is when we press, we can’t slow down on offense.”

Lancaster outscored the Gladiators by 20 in the second half and got 13 points from Henderson, including a crowd-pleasing steal and dunk. He finished with 19 points to lead nine different scorers for LHS. Davis finished with 16 and Reed 13.

Lancaster also hit 10-of-13 free throws in the fourth.

Most of Riverheads’ scoring came from sophomores Fulton and Painter with Fulton leading all scorers with 22 points. Painter had 14.

The win set up the much-anticipated state semifinal game between Northern Neck District rivals Lancaster and Northumberland. Northumberland took a 20-point victory, 86-66, over Region B champion Cumberland in Farmville Saturday.



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