After an impressive first half run by Midlothian, it looked as if Meadowbrook had finally met a match they couldn't keep up with.
But, oh, those who believed that even for a moment were in for a rude awakening....
Midlothian, from 2:40 left in the first to 2:59 left in the second, went on a 24-9 run and threatened to run away with the 3rd Place Game at the 2013 Henrico Holiday Hoops Tournament. The Monarchs would have none of it.
Getting the lead down to as little as five, the Monarchs cut the 16-point deficit in half by intermission, down 42-34. They spent the entire second half living just shy of the mountaintop. Down by 6, then 4, then 3, back to 4, down to 2, down to 1, the Monarchs never, ever went away.
Khylil James provided the emotional, and offensive sparks tonight, leading Meadowbrook with 17, while, off the bench, Tyshawn Jeter was an inside force with 12 points and 16 rebounds, 11 of which came on the offensive glass.
But in the end, even as Meadowbrook took a one-time, one-point lead with under 2:00 remaining, the Midlothian Trojans pushed back time after time. Seven seconds after losing the lead? Sammy Hooper hit his third and final trey of the night to take the lead back for good at 69-67.
Meadowbrook reached the foul line, cutting the lead to one with 60 seconds remaining. Midlothian held the ball, finally fouling Hooper with :16.2 to play. Hooper missed the front end of a one-and-one and the Monarchs called time, down one and with the ball.
Instead of leading scorer Brandon Cheeks, the Monarchs went to the hot hand, but James missed his shot, and Jeff Lee couldn't hold onto the offensive rebound. The ball went out of bounds with 4.1 left, forcing the Monarchs to foul short of a turnover.
They fouled Hooper, who calmly sank both free throws. The Monarchs designed a play from 94 feet, and Cheeks got the ball and a good look at a three-pointer from 22 feet as the buzzer sounded. But the shot went long, going off the backboard on the other side of the rim, and the Midlothian Trojans survived.
Only four Trojans scored tonight: 20 each for Korey Turner and Tad Mosher, 17 for Luke Milanovic and 14 for Hooper. Cheeks had 15 for Meadowbrook and Richard Legree had a terrific second half, scoring 14 of his 16 points after intermission.
Meadowbrook finishes 1-2 at Henrico, moves to 7-3 overall, and returns January 7th at home to Prince George. Midlothian finishes 2-1 at Henrico, ups its mark to 7-3 as well, and returns January 8th at George Wythe before hosting Huguenot on Friday January 10th.
The L.C. Bird girls basketball team didn't expect to go 1-2 at their own tournament, but after being upset Friday afternoon by unbeaten 2A power Brunswick, the Skyhawks had to face Highland Springs Saturday night on their home floor. The Springers took a 40-30 lead to intermission, and the Skyhawks could never make the comeback, en route to a 74-67 defeat.
Taja Cole scored 12 of her 13 points from beyond the arc and had 11 assists, while Angela Caraballo had a game-high 22 points. But Tia Byrd had five three-pointers for the Springers, finishing with 17, along with E'shay Winfield. Najai Pollard added 15, Bri Justice had 12.
L.C. Bird, now 5-3, returns to action January 7th at Huguenot, then hosts #1 Cosby on Thursday, January 9th for their only meeting of the season.