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James River survives last gasp shot to avoid OT in showdown with Glenvar

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BUCHANAN — Thrillers are becoming standard fare for boys basketball games involving Glenvar and James River.

In the first meeting since the Highlanders stopped James River’s title hopes in a buzzer-beater in the regional playoffs last season, the Knights got some satisfaction from a 50-47 Three Rivers District victory after surviving Ty Bolling’s attempt to tie the score at the horn with a 3-pointer.

After trailing for most of the contest, the host Knights (8-2, 2-0) rallied from an eight-point second-half deficit for the win while going 8 for 10 from the free-throw line and holding the Highlanders (9-3, 1-1) to nine fourth-quarter points.

The reward for James River was opening district play with a pair of wins. Friday night’s downer?

“We have to play in the Chance Harman tournament at Floyd at 9 a.m.,” Knights coach Ethan Humphries said of the Saturday morning game, which the team also won.

Good luck settling the players down for a good night’s sleep after a win like the one they had over Glenvar.

“We might as well keep them here at school,” Humphries said with a smile that indicated he was only half-serious.

After handling the game well in most phases but their shooting — the Highlanders were 17 for 53 from the floor — Glenvar played well enough to win most games. James River, on the other hand, played poorly enough in the first three quarters to get beat by a lot of teams.

“We weren’t playing our brand of basketball,” James River’s Jayson Easton said. “We were trying to be selfish and create for our own and not for our teammates.”

Easton was a big factor down the stretch, scoring six of his 11 points in the second half and coming up with a clutch closing frame with four points, a couple of steals, and two of his three blocked shots. Three of his nine rebounds were also produced in the fourth.

Humphries had some sage advice for his team when its struggles were at their most acute.

“They sped us up and ran us off the 3-point line,” Easton said. “Coach told us to play inside-out so we could take inside shots first. We were told to settle down. We’ve been in that situation before so we knew how to stay calm and play with composure.”

Corey Easton led James River with 13 points, canning one of the team’s trio of 3-pointers and going 4 for 4 at the stripe. Patrick Clevenger had a triple, seven rebounds, and a 3-for-4 evening at the stripe for 12 points. As a team, the Knights were a cool-headed 15 of 18 on foul shots.

In the end, James River won the battle of the backboards by a single carom.

“I thought we were better with our rebounding in the second half,” Humphries said.

The perimeter defense was better after intermission as well. Only one of Glenvar’s four 3s came in the second half. The Highlanders also had trouble with the Knights’ press in the closing minutes. Five of Glenvar’s seven turnovers were forced with the full-court pressure that began about halfway through the third and continued for the rest of the game.

Stephen Barber led Glenvar with 15 points and took seven of the team’s nine foul shots, making four. Tyler Johnson and Christian Housh combined for three 3s and 21 points.

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