Blue Ridge goes off early against Fork Union

Photo: Ryan Yemen

Blue Ridge came in hot after dismantling Hermitage over the weekend and after a blistering first half on the road against Fork Union, appears to be hitting its stride rather quickly. Behind an offensive explosion in the first quarter, the Barons cruised to an 81-40 win to improve to 3-0 and on the season.


“I told the guys before this game — this is a shooter’s gym, even from way back when I played,” said Blue Ridge coach Cade Lemcke, who played on the same floor at FUMA when he was at Hargrave Military Academy. “This is just a great gym for shooters, the lighting, the rims, I knew we’d shoot the ball well here tonight and told the guys to shoot with confidence and they did. The combination of shooting well and making that extra pass, we got open looks tonight.”


Darius McGhee had a breakout game and got warm out of the gate. McGhee poured in 10 of his game high 27 points in the first quarter fueled by a pair of 3-pointers. That paired with eight first quarter points from Myles Jones who also hit a pair of treys allowed the Barons to take a commanding 27-9 lead going into the second quarter.


“At first we just came in looking to make the extra pass,” McGhee said. “All my teammates made that extra pass and I was just lucky enough to be in the right spot a lot of times. All the shots were pretty much wide open, I had clear looks at the basket.”


Up comfortably after the first eight minutes, the Barons padded their lead by 13 more points as turnovers and a tough night shooting started to take its toll on the Blue Devils. Aamir Simms went to work inside and picked up seven of his 15 points on the night. Blue Ridge went into the break up by 31 points.


“We have a special group as the chemistry builds and we continue to make strides,” Lemcke said. “This is a very talented group, but more so than that, they are unselfish. So as the chemistry comes along, this is going to become a special team.”


Little changed in the second half as Blue Ridge continued to lean on its depth and got field goals from nine different players, and points from 10 individuals allowed the Barons to tack on 14-more points to their lead heading into the fourth quarter.


“It feels good when we’re executing well, playing hard on defense,” McGhee said. “Practice has been paying off. We had a hard practice yesterday before this game today. It just feels like practice is working out for us on defense, with conditioning and just executing on plays.”


Fork Union played its best in the final frame, outscoring the Barons 14-10 in that stretch with Julius Smith and James Brooks combining for eight points. On the night, the Blue Devils were led by Dontae Thornton and Antonio Pua’auli-Pelham both of whom finished with seven points.


For Blue Ridge, after McGhee’s 27 points came Jones who finished with 14 on 5-of-7 shooting and also had four assists. Simms had 10 rebounds to go with his 13 points for a double-double, and also had a trio of steals. McGhee finished with a team best seven steals. The Barons’ defense forced 20 turnovers in the win.