By RODNEY YOUNG
Christiansburg – Fort Chiswell used a rock solid defense shut down the Galax Maroon Tide Friday evening to earn the Mountain Empire District Tournament championship, 68-54.
The Pioneers almost shut out the Tide in the second quarter to take a commanding 31-16 lead into halftime. They only gave up two free throws with just 18 seconds remaining in the second quarter, as they outscored the Tide 19-2. Playing their familiar 2-3 zone, the Pioneers held Galax to 34 percent shooting for the game while hitting 58 percent themselves. Fort Chiswell hit 9 of 13 from behind the arc for torrid 69 percent. Four different players hit from behind the three-point line.
Galax may not have shot the ball well overall, but did hit twelve 3-pointers to keep the contest from being a blow out.
Fort Chiswell had two players in double figures. Brett Mabry led the way with 15 points, and Jared Hovencamp added 11. Mabry hit four from behind the arc and Hovencamp hit three coming of the bench to give the Pioneers a big lift.
Three other Pioneers, Coleman Thomas, Dylan Hale and Chase Rathbone, finished with 8 points each. Senior point guard Daniel Hamm had seven points and eight assists. Hale had seven rebounds to go with his eight points.
Steven Peoples had 15 points to lead the Maroon Tide, and Chandler Quesenberry chipped in 14.
A very happy Fort Chiswell head coach Derrick Jackson said, “we had a lot of players to make contributions, and you have to have that to win this time of year. We have improved defensively and we have become unselfish on both ends of the court. ” He then added, “we answered Galax’s runs in the second half. I’m proud of my team.
The All-District team was announced after the championship game, with several Fort Chiswell players receiving recognition. Dylan Hale and Brett Mabry were selected as honorable mentions. Daniel Hamm was selected as a member of the second team. Coleman Thomas was the lone Pioneer selected for the first team. Player of the year went to Asher Dillow of Bland County, and Lucas Austin of Grayson County was voted Coach of the Year.
Fort Chiswell will now host the Glenvar Highlanders in the opening round of the Region C playoffs. The game will be held at Fort Chiswell High School, and is tentatively set for Wednesday night at 7 pm.
GH 14 2 16 22 – 54
FC 12 19 13 24 – 68
GH- Peoples 18, Quesenberry 14, K. Brown 6, Bartlett 3, Pack 2, Bryant 2, Digiacomo 4, Garvey 5
FC- Mabry 15, Hovencamp 11, Rathbone 8, Thomas 8, Hale 8, Perry 6, Hamm 7, Mooney 3, Stoneman 2
GH- 12 (Quesenberry 4, Peoples 4, K.Brown 2, Bartlett, Digiacomo)
FC- 9 (Mabry 4, Hovencamp 3, Hamm, Mooney)