STAFFORD — If Colonial Forge High School ever plans to start a sport Hall of Fame, Brandon McKenney is making a case as the first inductee.
On Friday, the senior guard had a crucial steal and scored four points in the game’s final 54 seconds as Colonial Forge held off visiting Stafford 50-47 in a Commonwealth District contest. It was the Eagles’ first win in the school’s four-year history over the Indians and caps off a week where the Eagles won four of their last five games.
“I guess it was just fate,” McKenney said. “We played well in the first quarter on Monday night at Brooke Point but didn’t finish up very well. And we knew we were a better team than that. So the past two games we just went out and proved it.”
It was senior night at Colonial Forge and head coach Bryan Zardezed started all three of his seniors — McKenney, Kevin Hitt, Bo Trant and Byron Davis.
“Following the Brooke Point loss,” Zardezed said, “I just put it to our seniors this way. This being your final two games, this is a perfect opportunity to beat two teams at home we have never beaten.
“At some point, I think the light clicked and I believe it was the seniors helped us through. Early in the year, Korey [Whiting] was carrying us. Now we are playing more like a team.”
McKenney, a three-sport athlete who has started for four years in football, basketball and track, has been the epitome of hard work, patience, perseverance and fortitude.
Without question, the 5-11, 185-pounder has paid his dues and in each regular-season finale (football, basketball), he has been rewarded with shining moment.
During football, McKenney made a one-handed grab in the end zone of the regular-season finale against Brooke Point, not only to win the game but also capture the school’s first district football title.
“That was a big win,” McKenney said. “But right now this win feels just as big. Especially since Stafford is probably our biggest rival.”
Colonial Forge, which placed three players — McKenney, Whiting (17) and Hitt (10) — in double figures, rode the scoring of Whiting and Randy Hippeard to take a 28-20 halftime lead.
The Eagles held onto the lead until there was 1:55 left in the game. That’s when Stafford’s Derek Burton hit a pair of free throws to give the Indians the lead at 47-46. On the Eagles’ next possession, Hitt was short on a jumper in the lane and the rebound got knocked around until McKenney went on the floor after it. In the tie-up, the crafty veteran screamed for timeout and was granted one with 54 seconds left.
The Eagles ran a play designed to free up Whiting. When nothing developed, McKenney drove the lane and hit the one-handed runner for the 48-47 lead.
Stafford called one time out at the 37-second mark and another at the 19-second mark to set up a last-second shot attempt. Stafford’s Jahmil Cobb drove the right side around a pick set by Cole Arnett but the shot missed the mark and Hitt got his ninth rebound of the game. Hitt fired it to Hippeard, who threw a perfect strike to McKenney under the basket for the game-clinching bucket as time ran out.
“The play was designed for Korey to get the shot,” McKenney said. “When he flashed through, he wasn’t open so I just cut to the lane. And coach had told us if it wasn’t there to drive and score.
“Then, on the defensive end I was just hoping they wouldn’t get off a good shot.”
and we were able to get the win.”
Stafford, which was playing without the services of point guard Kevin Edwards (out of town), got 14 points and nine rebounds from Arnett while the team’s leading scorer Steve Miller netted 12 points.
“I have the utmost respect for Stafford and coach [Steve] Spicer,” Zardezed said. “Once we took the lead we tried to switch it up a little bit because they keep coming at you. But Brandon turned it up a notch, just as he has done the previous four games, and that has been the difference for us.”
The Indians were scheduled to play Culpeper on Saturday but the game has been postponed.