By Drew Goodman / Scrimmageplaycva.com contributor
Louisa County power forward Isaac Haywood has accomplished a great deal during his Louisa County career, but something was missing up until Tuesday night’s Jefferson District tilt at Charlottesville.
Prior to the road clash, Haywood had never dunked the ball in a varsity game.
“Last game my coach told me that, ‘You gonna get a dunk in this game’, and I felt it too. I almost got it, but to get it this game, it felt good,” Haywood said.
With his team fighting to stay undefeated on the season, Haywood could not have picked a better time for his first career slam.
Late in the fourth quarter against the Knights, Haywood came up with a huge rejection and finished the play off on the other end for a rim-rocking dunk.
The thrilling play pulled Louisa ahead for the first time and Haywood later buried a free throw with 13 seconds left, which enabled the Lions to escape with a 48-47 triumph.
Charlottesville missed a pair of chances charity stripe with 0.7 seconds remaining, which capped off a wild final four minutes of play. The Black Knights were 9-for-10 from the free throw line prior to the late misses.
Charlottesville fans that were waiting for the Knights’ inaugural Jefferson District home game of the season were treated to a back-and-forth affair between two athletic teams
Of the many ties and lead changes in the fourth quarter, however, few plays were as exciting as Haywood’s rim-rocking dunk.
What appeared to be an open three-pointer for Isaiah Washington, turned into a big-time block by Haywood. After making the stop, Haywood chased down the loose ball, and finished of the play with that highlight-reel dunk, right into the heart of the Charlottesville defense.
“This was my first dunk, so I had to make sure I had to get that one,” Haywood said with a laugh. “I got the block and didn’t know where I was going to land at, but once I got the ball and it hit the ground and I didn’t hear the whistle blowing, and I was like ‘Oh yeah.’ I saw nothing but clear court in front of me, and I just took off.”
It was not as exciting as the block and dunk, but Haywood later made an equally-important defensive play in the final seconds to secure a rebound off of a CHS miss with 13 seconds left in regulation. Haywood then went 1-for-2 at the line for the final point of the game for either team.
The junior scored five of his nine points in a fourth quarter that saw Louisa nearly double its point total from the previous three.
A number of Lions, in addition to to Haywood, made big plays in the final eight minutes.
Chris Shelton tallied nine of his game-high 16 points in the fourth, most of which came inside the paint. Louisa and the Black Knights traded buckets on several possessions late, but Shelton made sure that the visitors led by more than a point for much of the game’s stretch run.
In a contest full of guards being forced into playing in the post, Shelton used his 6-foot-4 frame to earn key second-chance buckets and help bring a dormant Louisa offense to life in the fourth quarter.
“We challenged him; his teammates challenged him and he has to step up being a senior and being a leader,” Louisa head coach Robert Shelton said. “I think it’s good as a coaching staff that he saw some things that he has some flaws with and things that he needs to get better at and work on. I anticipate a good week of practice with him leading up to Monticello.”
Jarett Hunter finished with 14 points for Louisa, including some key free throws in the final minutes.
Charlottesville (8-5) seized the lead in the game’s opening minute and kept it all the way through the 5:30 mark of the fourth quarter. The Knights led by as many as eight in the second quarter and nursed a slim advantage as both offenses struggled for much of the night.
Jake Bowling gave Charlottesville a one-point lead with a huge triple from the left hand corner with 1:22 remaining in the game. CHS had a chance to break a 47-47 tie on its ensuing offensive possession, but could only get one shot off, before Haywood came down with the big defensive board.
The heartbreaking loss snaps a three-game winning streak for CHS.
“I thought overall we played pretty good defense tonight. Anytime you hold a team to less than 50, and that’s all we ask to hold a team less than 50,” Charlottesville head coach Mitch Minor said. “We had a chance to win, but unfortunately, those opportunities, we didn’t take advantage of. We had a chance and that’s all you can ask for.”
Motley led Charlottesville with 10 points, while Washington added nine.
The Black Knights will host Powhatan on Friday night, while Louisa will look to remain unbeaten at Monticello on Friday as well.