The old saying goes: “you can’t teach size.”
Unfortunately for Powhatan’s boys basketball team, James River had that crucial height advantage and utilized it in a 66-50 final in favor of the Rapids on Jan. 10.
“We played hard and we played together,” Indians coach Ryan Marable said. “We were able to make adjustments throughout the game, which has been a struggle for us. James River is a great team, well-coached and ran good plays. I think we just ran out of gas at the end.”
Powhatan was able to erase an early 4-point deficit as Brylan Rather hit back-to-back shots, including one off a steal near midcourt to jumpstart a 9-0 run for the Indians.
After the teams passed the lead back and forth, the Rapids went on a 16-0 run that spanned the end of the first quarter and the beginning of the second to put a significant gap on Powhatan. But, led by Rather’s hot shooting hand on the night, Powhatan was able to cut the 15-point lead down to just 9 by halftime.
Rather was the top scorer for the Indians with 20 points. LJ Alston added 13 points, including 9 off 3-point shots.
“He’s come on,” Marable said. “When he’s engaged and into it, he really shoots the ball well. Trey (Moore) and the team did a good job of finding him. He’s a first-year varsity player and really starting to find his rhythm.”
In the second half, the Rapids’ dominance in the paint and on the boards helped them keep their comfortable lead. James River’s Cole Grubbs, standing at 6-9, was a problem all night for the Indians defensively. He led the way for the Rapids with 25 points.
“Our big guy, Ethan (Kramer), hasn’t played a ton of minutes against other bigs like that,” Marable said. “(Grubbs) is great on film and hopefully Ethan can take some of (Grubb’s) game to us. It shows us where we need to be on the boards.”
Powhatan would get within 9 at the closest point in the third quarter on a quick 3-point run, but James River extended its lead to 12 points by the end of the half and didn’t look back from there.
Earlier in the week, Alston netted 12 points in the Indians’ 64-37 loss to George Wythe on Monday, Jan. 6, and Powhatan stayed in the fight with the Monacan Chiefs, trailing by 8 at the half, before taking the 62-47 setback on Wednesday, Jan. 8.
The Indians have two games remaining (Clover Hill and Manchester) on its first pass through the Dominion District before seeing teams for a second time this season. Marable said he’s looking forward to another chance at the district teams.
“I’m excited for us to get to the back-end of our schedule,” Marable said. “Now that we’re playing better, hopefully we can knock those guys out. I don’t think anyone, other than the teams we’ve played recently, give us much respect.
“We’re ready to go earn everyone’s respect,” Marable said, “and take a shot at teams who have knocked us off before.”