Dramatic doubleheader at First Baptist

Published 11:12 pm Friday, December 12, 2008

There are higher levels of high school basketball played in Suffolk, but the games played Thursday by homestanding First Baptist Christian School didn’t come up short on entertainment or intensity.

The Crusader girls edged Tabernacle Baptist Academy of Virginia Beach, 38-37, when the visitors narrowly missed a contested layup with a second remaining. First Baptist’s boys squad fell 64-61 to Tabernacle after leading by a point with a minute to play.

Becca Ballance led the Lady Crusaders with 12 points. However, she fouled out with two minutes to play and could only watch as the 38-33 lead her team held upon her exit shrank to a single point.

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Hitting both ends of a 1 and 1 to pull Tabernacle within 38-35 was leading scorer Shayla Hill, who finished with 23 points. The Patriots’ Brittany Rosensky followed with a field goal and the final two minutes, while scoreless, had fans on the edge of their folding metal chairs.

In the hectic play that unfolded, First Baptist missed six shots and Tabernacle three, all by Hill. The lanky post player rebounded an errant shot with roughly five seconds remaining and raced down the right side, but couldn’t get her layup attempt to fall as she was pressured by frantic defenders.

The Crusaders led by eight after a quarter but trailed by four at halftime. Meredith Overton and Victoria Carr each had eight points and First Baptist connected on 19 of 71 field goal attempts (27 percent) and didn’t attempt a free throw. Tabernacle hit on 13 of 51 field goal attempts (25 percent) and 10 of 19 free throws.

The boys game featured only a little less drama and began with Tabernacle making just two of its first 17 field goal attempts. First Baptist took advantage for a 17-10 lead after a quarter but trailed 33-27 as Jarius Hill, a Tabernacle swingman oozing athleticism, scored 11 points in the second stanza.

Hill continued his hot streak in the second half, and although the Crusaders managed a 44-44 tie after three quarters, they were never quite able to contain their nemesis. Hill finished with 46 points, 27 of them after halftime, and he sank three shots from 3-point range.

Tabernacle led 56-48 with five minutes remaining when the Crusaders’ Pete Twisdale sank a pair of 3-point shots within a minute and center Aaron Cockrell, nursing a hurt leg, scored from the paint to bring the hosts within 58-56. The teams traded baskets before First Baptist’s Matthew Lilly coolly sank a trey to put his team up 61-60 with a minute to play.

Tabernacle stalled for roughly 30 seconds before Hill attacked the basket and the ball went out of bounds off a Crusader. Hill then scored off an in-bounds pass under the First Baptist hoop with 25 seconds on the clock. The hosts lost their chance at victory with turnovers on their final two possessions and Hill sank two free throws with six seconds to go to close the scoring.

Twisdale led First Baptist with 28 points and Lilly had 13. Cockrell had 14 points, 10 in the second half, and his team hit on 25 of 64 field goal attempts (39 percent) and 6 of 10 free throws. The Crusaders committed 21 turnovers while Tabernacle coughed the ball up seven times.