Titans too tough for Bees boys down stretch
By Andy Bitter
Lynchburg News & Advance
Saturday, February 24, 2007
ROANOKE - As a precocious freshman three years ago, Matt Dunton was told the Brookville boys basketball team had only made one other state tournament appearance in its history. His goal became simple: get the Bees to states by his senior year.

He came oh so close.

Brookville fell to Hidden Valley 77-74 in a back-and-forth game at Northside High in the Region III semifinals on Friday, coming up one win shy of qualifying for the state tournament.

"We left it all out on the court," said Dunton, who scored 21 points in his final prep game. "You can always go back and say, 'We could have done this or could have done that,' but they can say the same thing. They were the better team tonight. Hats off to them."

Matt Partsch (26 points) and Ben Boggs (21) combined to make 10 of 11 free throws in the fourth quarter for the Titans (20-5), who will make their first state tournament appearance. They'll play William Fleming tonight at 7 p.m. for the Region III championship.

Brookville finished its season 22-4.

The last 4? minutes - which had three ties and three lead changes - could easily land on ESPN Classic.

With the game tied at 60, Partsch hit a 3 for Hidden Valley, only to be matched by Brookville's George Williams. The Titans went ahead by four on layups by Partsch and Boggs, but Williams, who finished with 14 points, came back with another three to cut the lead to one at 67-66.

The next four possessions were like two heavyweight fighters exchanging blows. The Bees forced a miss and Dunton raced down the court, making a driving layup to give Brookville a one-point lead with 1:41 to go .

Boggs answered with the play of the night, driving from the left side into Brookville's Logan Thomas. He drew contact with the right side of his body while extending the ball out with his left hand before scooping the ball off the glass with some English and into the hoop.

Thomas was whistled for his fifth foul, a huge blow to Brookville. The sophomore had dazzled all night, scoring 22 points, grabbing eight rebounds and blocking five shots. He carried the Bees in the third quarter by scoring 11 straight points, routinely driving past his man but also showing some range by hitting back-to-back 3s on the same pick and roll with Dunton.

"It's huge," Brookville head coach Chris Young said of Thomas fouling out. "That not only hurts you defensively but offensively. Because Logan was a mismatch problem all night for them, whether it was taking the big guys to the hole or shooting the 3. That really hurt us."

Boggs made the free throw to complete the three-point play and make the lead two, but Dunton came off a screen at the other end and drained a 3 to put Brookville ahead 71-70 with 1:17 left.

Ten seconds later, Boggs made two free throws that put Hidden Valley back up by one. It appeared Williams would counter again for Brookville, but before he went up for a shot in the lane, he was called for a push off.

Hidden Valley got the ball back and never gave up the lead, going 5 of 6 from the free throw line to put things away. Brookville watched three 3-pointers go awry in the final 40 seconds.

"The people that paid for tickets tonight got a great show," Young said. "They got their money's worth."

It was a bittersweet ending for Dunton, who never did get to the state tournament in his four-year career but hopes future Bees can finish the job for him.

"It's a hard way to go out, but we definitely grew a lot over the season and we seniors left a foundation," he said. "In the years to come, Brookville should be a dominant force in the Seminole, region and state."