MINERAL – Home court advantage is a big part of high school basketball, particularly in the Jefferson District.
The Charlottesville High School boys basketball team has thrived taking away that advantage this season. The Black Knights improved to 9-0 on the road with a big 59-56 victory over Louisa County on Friday night in Mineral.
Zymir Faulkner score 12 of his game-high 19 points in the first half as the Black Knights reclaimed the top spot in the district standings.
“This was a very important win,” Faulkner said. “[Louisa was] in the state championship game last year. They’re a great team with a great coach and great players. We knew it was going to be a hostile environment, I’m just proud we were able to pull out the win, just play our game and play good defense.”
Charlottesville (15-1, 7-1 Jefferson District) went to work early in the game thanks to some big shots from its guards. Jake Bowling drained a pair of 3-pointers and Faulkner added a couple of buckets in the paint on drives to give his team a 16-12 lead after one quarter.
Faulkner continued his hot shooting in the second quarter, knocking down two shots from behind the arc to give the Black Knights a 27-21 advantage with 3:27 left in the half.
Louisa (9-4, 5-2) struggled offensively in the first half, going 4 for 19 from the floor before getting a lift from several underclassmen. Terry Neely came off the bench to post eight points and Mahlik Munnerlyn added five more in the quarter as the Lions trimmed the CHS lead to 29-26 at intermission.
“I think we did a good job with help,” Charlottesville coach Mitch Minor said. “They didn’t get the lanes that I know they probably wanted. The kids played really hard and gave great effort defensively.”
The Black Knights went back to work in the third quarter as Nic Motley buried a 3-pointer to give his team its biggest lead, 34-28 with 5:19 remaining in the quarter.
The Lions battled back as Isaac Haywood scored eight points and Jarett Hunter knocked down a pull-up jumper at the free throw line to cap a 12-4 run and give his team a 40-38 lead with 2:06 left. The jumper was a milestone moment for Hunter, who became just the eighth player in program history to reach 1,000 points for his career.
After a brief ceremony to celebrate the accomplishment, Charlottesville went back on the attack as Christian Stewart tied the game on a sweeping layup and Bowling added a pair of easy buckets in transition as the Black Knights regained the lead 44-43 with one quarter to play.
In the fourth, Faulkner scored five points, including a big trey from the wing to put Charlottesville in front 53-48 with 4:25 left in the contest.
“They were playing me aggressive, so it was hard for me to get into a rhythm and my shot wasn’t falling,” Faulkner said. “Nic [Motley] told me to take my time because once you see one go in, they’re going to start going in. I hit a couple of 3-pointers and they started playing out and I just drove it to the basket.”
The Lions got hot from behind the arc with three makes, including a contested one from Xavien Hunter at the top of the key with 16 seconds left to trim the lead to 58-56 with 16 seconds left.
Motley made 1 of 2 from the line to extend the lead with 14.8 seconds left. Louisa County had two chances to tie the game late, but Jarett Hunter’s corner 3 and Xaiven Hunter’s shot from the top of the circle both rimmed out as Charlottesville extended its winning streak to six in a row.
The Black Knights made 5 of 6 from the charity stripe in the final 90 seconds, which made Minor smile.
“We’re not shooting the ball from the free-throw line very well, but when we came down to the end [of the game] we did,” Minor said. “Chris made a couple clutch free throws, as well as Nic, so for them to hit two each right there I was extremely happy. I’ll take that.”
Five players from Louisa County scored in double figures in the loss, including a team-high 13 from Xavien Hunter. Munnerlyn tallied 12 points, while Jarett Hunter and Haywood finished with 11 points each. Neely chipped in 10 more off the bench.
Bowling posted 13 points for the Black Knights. Isaiah Washington was a force in inside with 10 points. Stewart added nine more and four blocks.
“It was a good win for us,” Minor said. “I thought our guys played pretty well overall defensively. They didn’t get the dribble drives that I think they normally get. The second attempts off the boards I think were the biggest difference in the game.”