Cruel close to Indians’ banner run


For the Potomac News &

Manassas Journal Messenger

WOODBRIDGE Chris Doss’ eyes looked almost cartoonish with their exaggerated features. The veins made dark crisscrossing lines across the pupils, the usually white eyeball was bright pink and the area around his eye sockets were swelled like he had just been in a boxing match.

But there were no tears, at least that could be seen, because they were soaked up in the inside-out white t-shirt he held in his right hand to avoid any droplets from rolling down his cheek.

Doss had done everything he could to extend Gar-Field’s season another week, but in the end, ‘Goliath’ had won.

The Indians lost to Highland Springs (25-3) in the quarterfinals of the Group AAA state tournament Saturday night at Woodbridge High School, 50-33, despite a game-high 19 points from Doss.

Gar-Field trailed only 30-26 going into the fourth quarter, but shot 0-for-9 from the three-point line to fuel the Springers on to victory.

“I think we maxed out with what we had,” Gar-Field coach Andy Gray said. “This group of guys is maybe my favorite in my time here. They gave everything they had and I am very proud of them. We just played a team that was bigger and deeper.”

The loss ends the Indians season with an 18-9 record . Gar-Field had won 11 of its previous 12 games after starting the season 8-7 and won the Cardinal District and the Northwest Region championship along the way.

But on Saturday the journey came to a screeching halt against Central Region runner-up Highland Springs, which will play Maury on Friday in the state semifinals at Liberty University.

Gar-Field’s leading scorer during the season Chris Vann, managed only 10 points, none of which came in the second half.

“Our plan was for Vann not to beat us,” said Highland Springs coach George Lancaster, who is in his 24th year of coaching at the school. “We had seen Vann play before during AAU and knew what he was capable of doing. We figured if we could stop him and Dee Howard than we would have a good chance to win.”

Howard scored only made only 1 of 11 shots, including 0-for-7 from behind the arc, to finish with two points. McCane was the only other Gar-Field player to score and he had only two points.

Gar-Field trailed 27-22 at halftime after Highland Spring’s Andre Ingram made a three-pointer just before the final buzzer. Doss opened the fourth quarter with a lay-up to cut the Springers lead to three. He scored again after Ingram hit on of his four three-pointers in the game to give Highland Springs a 30-26 lead.

The Indians had possession with five minutes remaining when Gray called for his team to hold the ball and put a stop to play. Howard held the ball just past the midcourt line with both hands and his shirt untucked. Kirsten McCane stood on the left wing while Vann went to the left corner. On the other side of the floor, Calvin Booth and Doss mirrored their teammates.

The Springers sat back in their zone defense, refusing to chase after Howard and letting play come to a complete standstill. No one moved for over four minutes while Howard held the ball at center court, while Gray knelt near McCane, reassuring the team.

“I wanted to give our players a rest and cut the possessions of the game,” Gray said. “I knew they were wearing us out and I wanted to shorten the game to give us the best chance to win.”

The maneuver, Gray referred to as “Deep Freeze,” stayed in play for almost five minutes. The Highland Springs crowd yelled, “You scared,” at the Gar-Field bench and “They quit! They quit!”

But Gray held firm in his decision and Howard did not put the ball on the floor until 15 seconds remained on the clock. Howard then drove towards the basket, only to have the ball stolen.

“I didn’t really agree with it,” Doss said afterwards, “but coach knows what he was doing so we went along.”

The teamsactually played in the fourth quarter, but Gar-Field could not hit a shot. It made only 5-of-18 shots in the second half and Highland Springs was able to capitalize.

After a Doss lay-in to start the fourth quarter, the Springers scored 20 of the next 25 points on their way to the blowout. The Springer fans, who were wearing black and gold Mardi Gras beads, had their own Fat Tuesday celebration four days later than scheduled.

Once the game was in hand they chanted, “Hold the ball now!” and “Do it again Gar-Field,” mocking the Indian bench. They even started to sing, “Nah, nah, nah, nah, hey, hey, hey, goodbye!”

The Gar-Field players remained composed and shook hands with their opponents once the game was over. Greg Tekampe had part of his jersey in his mouth as he walked off the court and several of the players just walked silently to the locker room.

“It was real strange in the locker room after the game,” Booth said. “Everyone was real quiet and did not know what to say. I think we were shocked that the run is over.”

The Indians now prepare for next year. They will lose four seniors to graduation, but return Vann, who was the Northwest Region Player of the Year.

“I’m just glad we got to go this far,” Vann said. “It hurts a lot to lose, but it was one thing to just get this far. I’m proud of our team.”

They should be proud, it’s just sometimes, Goliath wins.

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