Three weeks ago, Rappahannock County High School Scholastic Bowl head coach David Naser questioned whether or not his Panthers could pull themselves together to finish their Bull Run District regular season in strong fashion.
Monday night, he got his answer.
Strong individual showings from senior captain Malcolm Perry and freshman Danny Collins lifted the Panthers to wins over Manassas Park and Strasburg in matches played at Madison County.
The victories gave Rappahannock County a 7-8 record, which places them fourth in the district standings. George Mason, the defending Group A state champion, is undefeated at 15-0. Manassas Park and Clarke County sit in second and third places. Madison County and Strasburg are fifth and sixth.
The Panthers will host the district tournament Jan. 22 at 10 a.m. when they will face Strasburg in their opener. The winner will play George Mason in the double-elimination tournament.
“With the district tournament, it’s a question of who’s No. 2,” Naser said. “Monday showed me that on any given night, we can do it.”
“Strasburg’s gotten better. Madison’s gotten better. Clarke’s gotten better,” he said, “and I think we’ve gotten better, too. We just didn’t show it until Monday night.”
Naser questioned his Panthers’ dedication to the sport after they dropped three matches in one evening at George Mason. In his 10 years in coaching, he had never had a team lose all three matches in one night.
Monday night, the Panthers showed their head coach that they could pull themselves together.
In the 200-175 win over Manassas Park, Rappahannock County dominated the 10-question directed round, outscoring the Cougars, 80-20, to take a 150-75 lead.
Manassas Park staged a furious rally and had a lead going into the final four questions, before Rappahannock County got three questions correct to seal the win.
“It looked as if we were going to throw the match away in that third round,” Naser said.
Perry said that a correct answer from junior Adam Carter on a science question early in the third round proved important in the match’s outcome. Carter has played throughout the season but never scored for the Panthers in the toss-up rounds.
Monday night, he had 20 points. While that number is small, it is significant, Perry said.
“We can do it. We can go to regionals, but it’s going to take a total team effort,” he added. “Everyone needs to contribute, and Adam was a big help.”
Carter said that he knew the answers to other questions but needs to hit the buzzer quicker.
“It felt so good to contribute,” he added. “To know something that the others didn’t.”
In the 210-160 win over Strasburg, Collins dominated the first toss-up round, scoring 50 points. Perry had 55 in the second toss-up round, as the Panthers outscored the Rams, 105-30.