Owen picks up Tigers with ‘D’


[email protected]

HARRISONBURG — All the hours that Brentsville leading scorer Brian Owen spent in the gymnasium before morning classes this year is starting to pay dividends for the Tigers.

Replaced in the starting lineup for six games midway through the season because he wasn’t playing good enough defense, the Bull Run District Player of the Year played one of his best all-around games against Riverheads on Tuesday night, leading the Tigers to a 54-49 victory.

Owen had 19 points, including 5 of 6 free throws in the game’s final 1:14, and played solid defense on Riverheads guard Ryan Glover to help the Tigers (18-7) advance to the Region B semifinal on Thursday.

Owen’s defense was especially huge, given the fact that Ramsey Boyd was suffering through a groin injury and was having a tough time staying with Glover in the first half.

“His [Boyd’s] side-to-side movement was not good,” Brentsville coach Doug Poppe said. “He even said ‘I can’t guard No. 22 [Glover] in the second half.’ That’s the best defense Brian’s played all year. He was tough tonight. He was a complete player.”

Boyd was glad to see his teammate shine in the clutch, especially since he hadn’t attempted a free throw all game.

“He’s automatic, he’s been shooting the ball from the line better than he has all year,” said Boyd, who tallied 13 points and four assists.

Tuesday’s win helped erase a bitter feeling from last year when the Tigers blew a 15-point halftime lead against the Gladiators in the same round, losing 56-51 in overtime.

Coincidentally, it was the same type of a game as last season. After a brief 5-0 Riverheads lead, the Tigers began busting up the Gladiators’ zone defense with a barrage of 3-pointers. Boyd had two from behind the arc, Owen three to give Brentsville a 28-22 edge at halftime. Boyd, who fouled out without scoring in the Bull Run District final against Clarke County, connected on another 3-pointer at the start of the third quarter to give the Tigers a 31-22 lead.

With the Tigers leading 41-31 at the start of the fourth quarter, though, Riverheads made a run reminiscent of last year’s game. The Gladiators used a halfcourt trap to cause five turnovers in a row and went on an 8-0 run to slice the deficit to just 41-39.

But Brentsville never gave up the lead. Jake Lavely scored down low for a four-point edge and the Tigers maintained that edge for several minutes, leading 51-47 with 14.9 seconds left.

On Brentsville’s next possession, Owen was fouled on a baseball-style pass by Boyd and made 1 of 2 free throws. After a layup by Glover trimmed the deficit to 52-49, Owen was fouled on the Tigers’ inbounds’ play and sank two free throws with 4.5 seconds left to ice the game.

“We knew…good teams are going to make a run,” Owen said. “And we knew we had to withstand that and we knew that it was going to come. We just had to handle the pressure and keep our composure.”

Six-foot-8 post player Josh Fox scored 16 points against a Brentsville squad that features no one taller than 6-4 (Lavely). However, Riverheads coach John Corbett was unsatisfied with his team’s inability to find Fox in the blocks for most of the game.

“We didn’t execute all night on offense,” Corbett said. “We were awful, we were flat awful. But their [man-to-man] defense had a lot to do with that.”

Glover finished with 16 points for Riverheads, which finished its season 20-3. Its only other losses came to district-rival Luray, which played Bull Run runner-up Clarke County in the regional nightcap at Eastern Mennonite University.

Owen also added five assists and six rebounds, Lavely had 10 points and six rebounds and Sam Huff added five points, six rebounds and seven assists.

Similar Posts