School and sports news for Dec. 16

Panther wrestlers make a good showing

The wrestling Rappahannock Panthers returned from the 26th annual Max Horz Invitational last Friday (Dec. 10) with a commendable 13th place finish among 23 teams participating.

“It’s one of the toughest tournaments that we have on our schedule,” head coach Jamie Harris said. Teams from West Virginia, Maryland and Virginia were there. Besides Strasburg, Rappahannock was the only other Single A Virginia school participating.
The tournament was held in Berkeley Springs, W.Va.

The first day of competition saw freshmen Tanyon Lee (171) and Amrit Tamang (152) pick up an 11-9 overtime win over a Musselman wrestler. Amrit celebrated a pinfall over his DeMatha Catholic opponent.

At the end of the first preliminary round, six Panther wrestlers were in the championship quarterfinals, and each was only one win away from medal possibilities. But all lost and dropped into the consolation round.

“Only CJ Sidrow, Jesus Lucas, Dylan Hitt, and Dennis McGillivray advanced to Saturday’s consolation quarterfinals, where a win there would put them on the medal stand,” Harris said. “Dylan was the only one able to come through with a pin on his Sherando opponent. He lost his last two matches to finish sixth. That is a great accomplishment for a freshman wrestler, especially at this tournament.”

Hitt wrestled four times. “It was my second match in the tournament that really got exciting,” he said. “He (the opponent) got the first take-down, and I immediately reversed it. Then, I was on top for the rest of the period with no other points scored. Next period, he got the take-down, then tilted me and scored two points. I reversed him one more time, then he reversed me again. He rode me out for the rest of the period.

Hitt noted that he was nearly pinned at the end of the second period. “I was on my back — fighting for my life. Third period began with me on the bottom. He turned me onto my back, but he was too high and I reversed him, caught him in a half Nelson and pinned him. I don’t know how much time was left. All I know was, the final score: 4-11. That sealed me a medal for sure.”

Harris said, “We did wrestle up to our capabilities in this tournament. Our youthfulness played a part. With six athletes having chances to medal, the ones who were eliminated simply did not wrestle well or did not make weight on the second day. As the coach, I will take responsibility for that. We will go back to work in the Panther Dungeon (wrestling room) to fix our mistakes and to learn from them — good old-fashioned sweat and hard work.”

The Panthers had a quad meet with Warren County, Middleburg, and Forest Park on Wednesday (Dec. 15).

“Sometimes small teams like us need a good wake-up call. We got it on Friday and Saturday,” Harris said. “That experience alone will help us in preparation for our future tournaments and our upcoming Bull Run battles.” — Melissa Delcour

Teams from the 9-to-11 age division of the Rappahannock Youth Basketball League battle it out under the basket on a recent Saturday. Photo by Roger L. Foster.

Youth League going strong

Over the past two Saturdays, the new Rappahannock Youth Basketball League, consisting of 10 teams with a total of 71 boys and girls — 37 in the 5-to-8 age group, 34 in the 9-to-11 division.

“This is the first year for the league,” said league president Wayne Sumner, who hopes the effort will eventually make the county’s high school teams more competitive. The teams play on Saturdays at the high school and elementary school.

Other league board members include vice president Middy Midkiff, treasurer Chris Murphy, sponsor chairman Mike Atkins and head official Robbie Thornhill.

Sponsors include Union First Bank; Emily Henry, Long & Foster; Baumgardner, Brown and Cupp; Antique Tables Made Daily; Hampton Foundation; the Corner Store; Shaw’s Services; A to Z Services and Jenkins Landscaping. Sumner said special thanks should go to Rappahannock County schools’ athletic director, Jamie Harris, and to Cathy Jones and Andy Hipple for their help opening up the gymnasiums for the league.

It is an exciting program, agreed Lance and Linda Petty, whose son Alec is a member of the Gold team. Cameron Wayland’s dad, Tony, added that “it is all about fundamentals and the learning process.” — Roger L. Foster

Ladies beat Governors, then lose in overtime

One win and one double overtime loss marked the Lady Panthers’ varsity basketball travel week.

Rappahannock defeated Nelson County, once again, in a 38-20 road game last Wednesday (Dec. 8). “The girls played hard and tough,” coach Robbie Thornhill commented. “Nelson improved since last Friday, and the zone defense they played was more aggressive.” The Panthers “shot the ball a little better and out-rebounded” the Governors.

The spotlight fell on senior Joslyn Smith and junior Olivia Hayden-Pless, who each scored 10 points. It also shined on sophomore Lauren Light. “They had their best games so far this year,” coach Thornill said. “Lauren worked hard on the defensive end and made some key passes in the second quarter when we took control.”

The Lady Panthers attempted to take control again Friday (Dec. 10), when they traveled to Colonial Beach. Rappahannock battled but fell 53-51 in double overtime.

“We played the best first half of our season,” coach Thornhill said. “We didn’t miss a shot in the second quarter as we built a halftime lead of 25-14.”

The second half of the game brought a definitive turn. Coach Thornhill noticed the shift “when the home crowd got going.” Senior Lauren Settle agreed. “The game was pretty intense. We were ahead for a while, and then the crowd started banging on the metal walls of the gym. The noise was bad. The atmosphere was rather intimidating.”

Even though the Panthers got a bit rattled, the girls held an eight-point lead to start the fourth quarter. Then, according to coach Thornhill, “the foul problems started to add up. We not only got into foul trouble, but we missed several foul shots, going 10-35.

“The highlight of the night was a fourth quarter moment. We were down two with only 1.8 seconds left and had to go the length of the court to tie or win. Brittani Dodson made a great pass to Paula Accioly who dumped it to Lauren [Settle] who canned a jumper to tie the game at 42 and send us into overtime.”

Settle recounted some of the Panthers’ strengths. “We really had a good game — broke their press really well even though they were tough. Our fielding percentage wasn’t too bad. It was our free throws that killed us.”

Rappahannock’s upperclassmen led the way in scoring: Settle 13; Olivia Hayden-Pless 11; Joslyn Smith 10. “It was a great game, and I’m proud of the seven,” coach Thornhill said. “Now they know foul shots can win or lose a game. We will get better.”

The Lady Panthers take their game on the road tonight [Dec. 16] at Randolph Macon Academy. Tip-off is 5 p.m. Coach Thornhill offered a special invitation to Rappahannock fans for the girls’ next home game. “We need the hometown crowd this Friday night at 6 o’clock when Colonial comes to visit. We’d like to give them a taste of our home court advantage.” — M.D.

Boys drop fifth straight

Rappahannock County High School head varsity boys basketball coach Terrence Johnson wishes he would be more positive about his program.

Unfortunately, the results just are not.

“Every night, we’re losing by 50 points, and it’s hard on us,” Johnson said. “I do not yell at these kids. I’m trying to coach them up. No coach likes to lose. Our kids don’t like to lose, either.”

Monday night, Eastern Mennonite handed the Panthers their fifth consecutive loss, 70-20. David Williams led Rappahannock County with five points. Matt Fletcher, Billy Hogan and D’Angelo Robinson all had four points apiece.

The addition of Fletcher to the roster could not have come at a better time. Rappahannock County needs bodies. It has only eight healthy players.

Besides more players, Johnson is putting the need of a true point guard on his Christmas wish list this year.

“We average 30 turnovers a night. You cannot win when you turn the ball over that much,” he added.

The best point guard that Rappahannock County has is an eighth grader, Bradlee Frye. Unfortunately, he is not eligible to play at the varsity level. Freshman Evan Hitt is a solid point guard for the junior varsity team but needs some more playing time.

“We’ve got to take care of the ball better,” said Johnson, who is thinking about moving senior forward David Williams to the point, because he handles the ball reasonably well.

Friday night, Williams pumped in 10 points, but Colonial Beach provide too much for the Panthers, posting a 75-27 win. Hogan added seven points, while Isaac Berry had six.

On Dec. 7, Williams had a career-high 20 points in Rappahannock County’s 76-28 loss to Shenandoah Valley Christian Academy.— Christine Krapf

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