ROANOKE – William Fleming broke no hearts on Valentine’s Monday.
The Colonels punched through the nets tied to the rims of their home gym and blocked Franklin County, 61-41, in the semifinals of the 2022 Blue Ridge District Men’s Basketball Tournament.
With the victory, William Fleming, league regular season champion and tournament seed, will advance to the championship game of the four-team event on Wednesday and play on his home turf again.
The Colonels, guided by longtime veteran head coach Mickey Hardy, take on the No. 2 seed Northside in a championship contest.
The Vikings beat No. 3 Lord Botetourt 63-43 in Monday’s other semifinal.
The loss, their third against the Colonels this season, ended the Eagles’ season.
FCHS, the No. 4 seed, earned their way into the tournament by edging out William Byrd by two points in their regular season finale last week.
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FCHS is firing almost its entire squad next year, a fact head coach Tom Hering highlighted in his post-match comments.
The Eagles’ 2022 squad had only one senior: Jamerise Holland, who did not see action on Monday.
Jaron Walker scored a team-high 17 points for the Colonels, while Zaiquan Roberts had 12 and Isaac Higgs finished with 11.
Five other players scored, none of whom were in double figures.
The Eagles didn’t have double-digit scorers.
Haven Mullins, Eli Foutz and Randy Clark each led the Eagles with nine points.
David Kasey also scored with six points, Nasir Holland with four, Tucker Harvey with three and Ke’Shawn Wright with one.
The Eagles were held to single digits in the first and third quarters, totaling 11 points in those frames. They had 30 points in the second and fourth periods of play.
FCHS (8-15) played without one of its best performers – junior guard Jordan Hering who was injured late in the triumph over William Byrd.
The Colonels led 12-4 after the first quarter and the gap remained at eight points, 29-21, after the two teams faced off 17-17 in the second stanza.
William Fleming led by 15 points, 43-28, after three quarters and 20 points at the end of the game.
The Colonels, who were leading from thread to thread, took control with an 11-0 run that bridged the gap between the end of the first half and the start of the second.
The push turned William Fleming’s four-point, 25-21 lead into a 15-point, 36-21 advantage.
The Colonels opened the second half with a 3-pointer and after a field goal with 6:45 showing in the third quarter, the Eagles were forced into a full time.
When play resumed, FCHS got a free throw from Eli Foutz and a field goal from Randy Clark, but the Colonels responded with five straight runs to produce a 17-point, 41-24 advantage.
The difference at the end of the period was 15 points, 43-28, after two points by Mullins with 1:36 remaining and Kasey with 15 seconds remaining.
The Colonels scored the first eight points of the last frame, a run that featured two dunks and a pair of free throws.
The count was 51-31 after a free throw from Clark and a field goal from Nasir Holland, but with 4:41 on the clock, William Fleming entered the free throw bonus 1 and 1 and had two tries from the line to produce a 22 point. edge.
The Colonels had a field goal and two free throws to build a 24-point, 57-33 lead with 3:45 left. Over the next minute, the Eagles got a trey from Foutz and a free throw from Wright, but the Colonels would then go over the 60-point mark with a field goal.
Trailing 61-37, FCHS got a 2-pointer from Mullins and two free throws from Clark in the final 1 1/2 minutes to finish the scoring.
William Fleming (19-3) had 10 of the game’s first 11 points before FCHS closed within a point, 18-17, with 3:30 to go in the first half after 3 points from Clark, Foutz and Harvey and a basket of Mullins.
The Colonels hit a 3-pointer with 2:42 showing to make the count 23-17, but the Eagles responded with field goals from Foutz and Holland just before the Colonels launched into their game-winning scoring push.
William Fleming’s victory is his sixth in a row and his 16th in his last 17 games.
The Colonels converted 25 field goals, including two 3-pointers, and were 9 of 10 (90%) from the free throw line.
The Eagles scored 15 field goals, including four 3-pointers, and were 7 of 16 (43.8%) from the free throw line.
Walker and Elijah Mitchell each hit a 3-pointer for the Colonels.
Foutz swept two treys for the Eagles, while Clark and Harvey each hit one.