Raiders pull off the upset

MANASSAS — In back-to-back overtime games, the Cedar Run District’s longest winning streak and longest losing streak both came to screeching halts.

The district tournament semifinals set up Wednesday night’s unlikely final between Stonewall Jackson and Osbourn Park. First, the host Raiders stunned top-seeded Potomac (previously winners of nine in a row), 72-71, on senior forward Onyie Onunaku’s buzzer-beating tip-in. Then, OP (losers of eight in a row) overcame a furious Osbourn rally to win, 62-57, in the nightcap.

For Stonewall coach Marcus Lawrence, in his third year guiding the Raiders, 10 minutes after beating Potomac, he said, “My heart’s still pounding.”

With five seniors who have been on Lawrence’s team for his entire tenure just outside Manassas, this was the win he had been seeking. After falling by one point in overtime at Potomac in Friday night’s regular-season finale, the Raiders (10-12) reversed the outcome Monday night.

“Last week, I simplified the playbook and said, ‘We’re going to our roots,’ ” Lawrence said. “We’d like to play great man-to-man defense and get after it — like it’s ‘We got next.’ We did that tonight.”

On the final play, Stonewall’s Corey Wheeler threw an inbounds pass to Chris Mpembele with 5.6 seconds to go. Mpembele lost control of the ball, but Adam Woodward picked it up and missed a bank shot. Onunaku leapt over the rim for the tip-in.

“That’s the first time I’ve ever won a game with the last shot,” said Onunaku, the son of Nigerian immigrants. “I knew some time this team would come through with a big win and tonight was the night.”

Onunaku had a 21-point, seven-rebound night. Guard Tyc Snow scored 17 points and forward Corey Wheeler chipped in with 15. Those three — along with Woodward and Mpembele — have been on the varsity team for at least three seasons.

By toppling the Panthers (19-4), Stonewall stands one win away from its first boys basketball district championship since 1970. To get to the final, the Raiders overcame Eric Hayes’ 3-pointer, which tied the game at 61 in the final second of regulation.

Hayes, a freshman guard, led all scorers with 26 points but just three other Panthers scored. Bryan Butler added 16, while Germain Williams finished with 15 and Jason Flagler 14.

“There were times when we were running the offense the way we should, but there just weren’t enough of them,” said Potomac coach Kendall Hayes, whose team will open Group AAA, Northwest Region play Saturday night at the Commonwealth District tournament champion.

Meanwhile, the winner of the Stonewall-OP game will play at home in the first round of the eight-team regional while the loser’s season ends Wednesday night.

OSBOURN PARK 62, OSBOURN 57: The second-seeded Yellow Jackets used the luck of the mustard seed to revive their season with an overtime victory.

Prior to the game, each player for OP (10-12) ate one mustard seed. Coach Danny Lawray kept one in his pocket as his team raced out to a 37-19 lead, only to fall behind as Osbourn (10-13) then went on a 21-0 run.

“We’d lost eight straight games, but I let the team know that the last month and a half happened for a reason,” Lawray said. “Our motto was to be determined.”

OP junior forward Adam Hinton-Moore made 10 of 11 free throws in his 20-point showing. He also grabbed 15 rebounds, while junior center Jon Pierce compiled 19 points and 13 rebounds.

For Osbourn, junior forward Kalair Montgomery-Haynes had 14 points and seven rebounds — all after halftime. Junior guard Robert Murray also finished with 14 points.

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