Teams don’t become rivals from a lack of competition, intensity or drama — these are only a subset to a term that encompasses a broad spectrum.
Christian Heritage Academy (CHA) faced one that crescendoed with every matchup throughout the year, but cadenced on the road in the Virginia Association of Christian Athletics (VACA) South Region quarterfinal game.
Smith Mountain Lake Christian Academy (SMLCA), a relative newcomer to the VACA, has grown into being the team-to-beat in the conference. The Ospreys proved that, yet again, with a 66-55, season-ending defeat of CHA on Feb. 12.
“I was very proud of the boys and their efforts against SMLCA,” head coach Tim Wilson wrote in about the game.
And Wilson had a reason to be proud, as the Knights (10-5) gave SMLCA their best for the better part of the game. With multiple lead changes and back-and-forth basketball, CHA was down just two at halftime, 38-36.
“The boys came out and fought hard during the third quarter and kept the game close,” Wilson added. But what proved to be the difference was the tallying up of the wrong statistic throughout the quarter — fouls.
CHA could neither hold off from fouling in the game, or knock its shots down when it went to the free-throw line. The Ospreys effectively utilized their double bonus — knocking down free-throw after free-throw — for much of the fourth quarter, which spread the point margin too great for the Knights to forge a comeback.
“They’ve beat us every time we’ve played this year,” Wilson wrote, “and we knew going in that we needed to perform at our best.”
Junior Matthew Bowden tallied 19 points, three rebounds and three assists, while junior Ian Anderson contributed with his best game of the season, providing 17 points, eight rebounds. Sophomore Blake Johnson also added a double-double with 10 points, 10 rebounds.
“Even though we took the loss and it ended our season, I’m very proud of the heart and grit that the guys played with and showed throughout the season,” Wilson said. “They’re an awesome group of young men!”