The game Monday night for the 11th Annual Tournament crown was as hard fought and evenly matched as possible, especially considering the Eagles, the defending 6A State Champions, roared out of the gate with an 11-0 lead.
The veteran Warriors kept their cool, kept the faith, and drew to within three to end the quarter at 18-15. Junior forward Monte Buckingham struggled throughout the night at the free throw line, missing four of his first five shots, hitting four of nine overall.
Tristian Bazemore's foul shots gave Henrico their first lead at 21-20. The rest of the night was spent watching the lead change hands over and over and over. On a drive down the lane, Buckingham softly placed the ball into the basket to score his 1,000th career points to cut the Colonial Forge lead to 26-25 with 1:36 left in the half. Buckingham was briefly congratulated, and made a beeline to family for hugs before action resumed.
The lead for the Eagles was one at 28-27.at halftime. Midway through the third quarter, the lid shut on Henrico, as they missed four drop-dead layup attempts. When TJ Flood nailed a 30-foot trey at the buzzer, the #Warriors went into the fourth down 46-43.
Buckingham wasn't done. His "And One" regained the lead at 50-48, 6:20 left. He made one of two at the line to tie the game at 55 with 2:59 left. That's when the Eagles' fortunes were buoyed by strong inside play from Winston Burgess, who finished with 15 points and 8 rebounds. A 4-0 run made it 59-55, and the Warriors spent the rest of the night playing catch-up.
Ryan Pearson (11 points) fouled out with 1:02 left. The Eagles couldn't take advantage, as the Warriors got a trey from Jamal Newton, his fourth of the game, cutting the lead to 64-62. A subsequent charge call give Henrico a chance to hold for the last shot to either tie or win.
But a Buckingham reverse bounce back down low to a cutting Walter Williams was too far to the left, Williams helpless as he watches the ball go out of bounds.
The Eagles (8-1) clinched it with four free throws in the final 18 seconds. Buckingham nailed a trey, but with no timeouts left, the Warriors couldn't get a final breath. Final Score: Colonial Forge 68, Henrico 67.
NOTES: The Warriors were without guard Gus Rowland. No word yet on the reason for his absence on the court...both team had 18 free throw shots. Colonial Forge made 15, Henrico only 11. The Eagles outrebounded the Warriors 43-32.
Henrico returns to action versus Norview at the VirginiaPreps.com Classic Saturday at Virginia Wesleyan College...