Wakefield's Aaron Queen (14 points) soars to the basket in Tuesday's victory over Falls Church.

Wakefield wrests back control of National District with 64-56 win

Falls Church is playing some good basketball right now. Coming into Tuesday’s game with Wakefield the Jaguars had won seven straight. Their latest victory was just the night before, where the Jaguars scored 56 points in a win over…Wakefield. That put Falls Church in a tie atop the National District with the Warriors.

Fortunately the Warriors only had to wait 24 hours for a rematch. On Tuesday night the Jaguars again scored 56 points, but this time it wasn’t enough against a determined Wakefield team. The visitors from Arlington physically overwhelmed Falls Church, out-rebounding the Jaguars significantly and going to the line 39 times en route to a 64-56 victory.

“There wasn’t much that we did different from last night,” Warriors coach Tony Bentley said after the game. “Falls Church has been on a roll–only thing we could do was look at some tape from last night, try and correct some things, and try to give even better effort than we did the night before.”

The effort was there on both sides, surely, but perhaps Wakefield’s athleticism and physicality had them better equipped to survive the second game of a back-to-back. Whether it was Bentley’s guards using their explosiveness to attack the rim or the Warriors pounding the ball inside, it enabled Wakefield to get second and third chances all night.

Explosive junior Bryson Horsford draws three Jags defenders to him in transition.
Explosive Wakefield junior Bryson Horsford draws three Jags defenders to him in transition.

It also enabled them to shoot 39 free throws. The Warriors only converted on 64% of their attempts there, but that still accounted for 25 points. The trio of Lukai Hatcher, Bryson Horsford, and Aaron Queen didn’t have a particularly good night shooting the ball (although some of their misses were on effort offensive rebounds), but they converted 21 times from the charity stripe.

Those three led the Wakefield attack with 40 points combined. Bentley’s team also got a nice boost from big men Treyvon Todd and Liech Kong. Todd had six points, while Kong, a sophomore receiving more playing time with starter Xavier Evans sidelined with a hip injury, was five-of-five from the field and added 12 points off the bench.

“Liech is getting some more playing time with Xavier out,” Bentley said. “He’s catching up to the speed of the game–he played freshman [team] last year–he’s getting better and finishing around the basket. We’re bigger than everybody in our conference, we have to learn to work that high-low action to get some easy buckets.”

6'6" Wakefield sophomore Liech Kong contributed 12 key points off the bench.
6’6″ Wakefield sophomore Liech Kong contributed 12 key points off the bench.

Even with Wakefield’s advantages on the glass and at the free throw line, the Warriors found it difficult to shake Falls Church. The Warriors led most of the game, but mostly only by a possession or two. The Jaguar senior combination of Caleb Botts (22 points) and Quinn Padovani (19 points) was tough to stop, even with the Wakefield defense keyed to stop them.

When Wakefield (7-1, 11-6) took its first double-digit lead of the night at 54-43 in the fourth quarter, those two and sophomore guard James Dapogny sparked a 6-0 Jags run by forcing turnovers. A Botts three-pointer cut the Wakefield lead to 58-54 a few minutes later, but that’s as close as Falls Church (6-2, 11-7) got the rest of the way as the Warriors made more free throws and took care of the ball better late.

After the grueling NBA-style back-to-back, the teams now get to practice and rest until they’re back in district action Friday. Bentley’s team is back in sole possession of first place in the National District and can hopefully get healthy soon, missing starters Evans and DeAndre Parker.

“Falls Church back-to-back without two of our starters is tough,” Bentley said. “We’re going to have to continue to adjust and figure things out more by Friday. But things are getting a little better…it’s coming down to the stretch now.”

–Chris Jollay

all stats are unofficial

HATCHER 3-7 5-8 11 11 2
HORSFORD 3-13 7-8 15 4 3
QUEEN 2-11 9-12 14 6 3
GLADDEN 1-4 0-2 2 1 2
TODD 3-5 0-0 6 3 0
Kong 5-5 2-5 12 5 1
Lang 0-1 1-2 1 5 0
Clark 1-1 1-2 3 3 1
Madden 0-0 0-0 0 1 0
TOTALS 18-47 25-39 64 39 12
Horsford 2-6, Queen 1-1, Hatcher 0-1
WASHINGTON 1-1 0-0 2 0 2
DAPOGNY 3-8 0-0 8 5 1
CUNNINGHAM 1-3 0-0 2 1 1
PADOVANI 6-12 5-6 19 2 2
BOTTS 9-17 1-3 22 4 2
Reid 1-4 0-1 2 7 1
Whitney 0-1 1-2 1 4 2
Gutual 0-6 0-0 0 1 0
Glavin 0-1 0-0 0 1 0
Ngo 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
TOTALS 21-53 7-12 56 25 11
Threes: Botts 3-5, Dapogny 2-4, Padovani 2-7, Glavin 0-1, Whitney 0-1, Cunningham 0-2, Gutual 0-3