Fort Defiance and its three victories are bound for regional play.
The Indians’ magical postseason adventure continued Tuesday night by knocking off the Waynesboro Little Giants 57-49 in the Valley District boys basketball tournament consolation game.
Sixth-seeded Fort (3-22), which won only one game during the regular season, picked up two victories in the district tourney. The Indians’ rebirth started Friday in the quarterfinals with a 42-40 win over third-seeded Rockbridge County. They lost at second-seeded Broadway 60-34 in Monday’s semifinals before eliminating fourth-seeded Waynesboro.
What reward is awaiting Fort when Region 3C play begins Friday? A trip to top-seeded Spotswood.
Fort head coach Brandon Fulk wasn’t sure what to expect from his Indians going into the postseason, especially since the Trailblazers put a 60-point beatdown on them in the regular-season finale.
“I am extremely proud of this group,” Fulk said. “After that 60-point loss, I wasn’t sure how they would respond. We gave ourselves a chance by playing our best game of the year at Rockbridge County. We have seized on the momentum from there.”
The Indians never trailed after the first minute of the second quarter. They led 28-23 at halftime and increased the margin to 34-23 with the first six points of the third period, four coming on buckets by Ryan Cook.
Fort’s fourth-quarter start was Groundhog Day, scoring five unanswered points, capped by Devon Simonetti’s three-point play for its biggest lead of the game, 42-30, with 6:58 remaining.
A 3-pointer by Waynesboro’s Jacob Freeman injected life into the Giants. Behind a 14-5 spurt, which Luke Young finished off with a three-point play following an offensive rebound, the Giants were right there at 47-44 with 2:59 left.
But Waynesboro (12-12) never got closer. Fort, unlike its girls the previous night, used the foul line to seal the regional berth. The Indians converted 10-of-14 free throws over the final 2:36.
“We won the game at the line in the second half,” Fulk said. “We were 14-of-19 in the fourth quarter.”
Fort, especially Clayton Kershner, put on a dazzling 3-point barrage in the first quarter that would have made the Splash Brothers proud. Kershner drained five 3s, while Vincent Sipe had one as the Indians led 18-16 after eight minutes.
The Indians didn’t score their first 2-point field goal until 1:57 remained on the half on a spinner in the lane by Sipe.
“We came out hot,” Fulk said. “But that got us playing at a faster pace than we wanted. We had a settle into a pace more suited for us.
Cold shooting spelled the end to Waynesboro’s season. The Giants shot 18-of-64 from the floor, including an icy 6-of-34 from downtown.
On top of the shooting woes, the Giants lost one of their top scorers and main inside force, Damien Fisher, to a sprained ankle late in the first half. He did not return to the game.
Cook led the Indians with a game-high 18 points, including eight in the fourth period. Kershner added 15, all coming in his first-quarter bombardment. Sipe chipped in 12.
Freeman, playing his last game in a Waynesboro uniform, topped the Giants with 16 points and Young tallied 15.