Friday night home games are hard to come by at Blue Ridge, but facing a talented Christ School from North Carolina, the Barons went for broke with a packed student section and the University of Virginia Pep Band on hand to liven things up. It was a plan where everything came together for Blue Ridge as the Barons erased an early lead behind a shooting clinic from Darius McGhee to lead the way to a 69-58 win.
“We’ve got great shooters but I always tell them that when you’re on your court and shooting on your rims you’ve got to come out with confidence,” said Blue Ridge coach Cade Lemcke. “We bounced back early and that we showed a lot of selflessness after that to keep finding the open man and play without the ball. We played for the best shot on every possession.”
By the time that Christ School realized it had to defend the perimeter from McGhee, Myles Jones and Sardaar Calhoun, the damage had been done. The Greenies started out with a solid 8-2 run to open up the game but then McGhee went on 9-0 run with a trio of three’s to give the Barons an 11-8 advantage, one they would not surrender.
“The first one I was open, my teammates found me,” McGhee said. “The first one went in and then I kept getting open and my teammates kept finding me.”
Blue Ridge stayed hot to close the first with McGhee finishing with 15 points in the frame while Jones had seven to pace the way to a 26-19 lead going into the second. The pace slowed considerably in the second quarter. Christ School’s defense adjusted to outside shooting and the Barons responded by getting Henri Vainola and Jayden Frazier rolling in the paint.
“That was a testament to the guys buying into our gameplan,” Lemcke said. “They started flying out to defend the outside shooters and our guys go and get the paint touches that we talk about all them time. When you do, heads turn and defenses overhelp.”
Coming out the break, Blue Ridge had a 41-32 advantage to work with and then the 3-point barrage reared its head with Calhoun hitting his second of the night and then McGhee knocking down three of his seven including one to close the third quarter. That put Blue Ridge up 59-46.
“When the offense started rolling we were just all into it,” McGhee said. “We had the crowd, the band. Everything was in our favor so we just capitalized.”
Both offenses struggled from the field to start the fourth but Vainola and Helm were able to knockdown shots put Blue Ridge up by 16 points with 1:27 to play. While the Greenies were able to chip away at the lead by fouling late, there was simply not enough clock to work with.
McGhee led all scorers with 27 points with 21 of them coming from beyond the arc and somehow managed to lead the team with 9 rebounds. Helm finished with 11 points. Vainola and Calhoun each had eight points. Calhoun also have seven board. Rogers had 10 assists on the night.
Defensively, the Barons had their hands full with Christ School guards Jalen Lecque and Trey Austin. Lecque finished with 21 points while Austin chipped in 13.
The Barons (13-5) travel to face Maury on Saturday at 7:20 p.m.