Brian Woodson | Bristol Herald Courier
NORTON, Va. — The Cumberland District Summit is up for grabs.
Bradley Owens and Connor Lane combined for 32 points, and Twin Springs forced a trio for first place with a 49-46 victory over JI Burton on Friday night in a crowded Stan Wilson gymnasium.
“What a game. I’m as exhausted as the guys,” Twin Springs head coach Tyler Webb said. “We knew it was going to be a battle, they played really well. We didn’t play very well, I think we kind of corrected a bit yesterday in training and came out with newfound confidence tonight. The guys really executed the game plan.
The Titans (13-7, 6-2) and Raiders (9-9, 5-2) are now tied atop the Cumberland District with Rye Cove, and Eastside is just one game behind.
“It’s wide open. I feel like there are three or four teams that feel like they are in control of their own destiny,” Webb said. “We win we’ll be number one, if they win they’ll be number one and if Rye Cove wins they’ll be number one. It’s going to be a crazy finish, but I guess that’s how you want it, it makes for a fun neighborhood.
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Twin Springs took the lead for good at 6-5, but the Raiders never trailed by more than seven, eventually closing at 45-44 with 1:23 left on a Lonnie Lindsey field goal. Burton’s Esau Teasley, who had a team-leading 16 points, was called for a foul and a technical, sending Lane to the free throw line for four shots with 1:24 remaining.
The usually reliable junior made just one.
“The first one came in and I felt good,” Lane said. “The second rolled, then the third rolled and the fourth did the same thing. I didn’t know what to think, but it’s fine, we took him out.
There won’t be much time for the party. These clubs will meet today in Nickelsville.
“Usually you have more time to prepare and rest, but I guess they will be in the same situation as us,” Burton head coach Caleb Church said. “That’s kind of the reason me and Coach Webb did this, it was the fairest situation we could understand.
“They need to rest and play us again, just like we need to do the same with them. I hope we can do a little better tomorrow.
Twin Springs led 42-35 early in the fourth quarter, but Teasley scored the Raiders with eight points in the period to draw less than one. Owens fouled with 2:53 left, but Lane made plays to help the Titans hold on to their lead.
“I thought ‘oh no’, we’re going to have a tough time here, but the guys hung in there and made the plays they needed to get the win.” said Webb.
Mason Ellliott added nine valuable points for the Titans, who had to find other ways to score with the Raiders playing tight defense on the powerful duo of Lane and Owens. Ryan Horne had a pair of key free throws in the final minute, and the Raiders missed a few late shots to tie or take the lead.
“We did a really good job on Owens and Lane,” Church said. “These guys can leave for 30 any minute, I felt like we did a really good job holding them defensively. It took a couple of guys, but I think we did a good job there -low…
“We just couldn’t score. We have to understand that and try to put the ball in the basket.
Zac Campbell added 12 points and Lindsey had seven for the Raiders.
“It’s what you expect when the top two teams in Cumberland are playing hard,” Church said. “They have very good athletes and very good ball players and we have very good athletes and good ball players.
“They fought for 32 straight minutes and played our butts. It just didn’t work our way in the end.
Expect another crowded gym today for more fun in the Cumberland District.
“It’s going to be tough,” Webb said. “Fortunately, they are in the same boat as us. It’s on our floor and we just need to get in and be ready tomorrow.
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