Panthers ‘play through’ swings to outlast Rapp, 66-58

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Canaan Pierce v Rapp 02-03-21
PCHS senior Canaan Pierce is guarded by Rapp's John Mullins on Wednesday night. Pierce had 20 points, eight rebounds and six assists in the Panthers' 66-58 win.

By Randy Arrington

SHENANDOAH, Feb. 3 — During a timeout with 3:56 left in the third quarter, an official commented to Page County High School head coach Russ Rodriguez, “I’ve seen a lot tonight” — referencing odd moments in the game.

Rodriguez, without missing a beat, answered back, “You’re about to see a comeback too.”

Rappahannock County lead the Panthers by as much as nine points in the pivotal third period before PCHS senior Canaan Pierce hit two free throws courtesy of a technical foul to bring the Panthers within six. Over the next four minutes, Page went on a 12-7 run to come within one.

“At times our energy was stagnant,” Coach Rodriguez said after Wednesday night’s game. “We have to find that energy sometimes, move the ball around on offense, and turn our defense into offense.”

The Panthers converted a number of steals and turnovers by Rappahannock during the game into easy layups in transition.

However, while the Panthers opened up an 18-7 lead after the first quarter, they went 5:35 into the second frame before putting up a point, followed by a 3:50 dry spell to open up the third quarter.

Rappahannock outscored the home team 14-5 in the second and 21-16 in the third, before Page came up with 27 points in the decisive fourth period to close out a 66-58 win.

“You gotta play through it,” Rodriguez said of the momentum swings during the game. “It’s our attitude that’s going to get us through.”

Junior Ricky Campbell lead the Panthers with 21 points and five rebounds. Pierce followed with 20 points, eight rebounds and six assists on the night. Junior Dylan Hensley had some clutch points for Page, finishing with 10 points and eight rebounds.

Rappahannock put two players in double-digits, as Grant Lillard lead the visitors with 17 points and Mason Ramey added 14.

Page County (9-2) will host cross-county rival Luray on Thursday, before traveling to Madison County on Friday to close out the regular season. Rapp (6-5) travels to Warren County High School on Thursday, before hosting Luray on Friday.

The Panthers have only lost two games this season, one against a tough Central of Woodstock team and the other last Friday against Strasburg. Coach Rodriguez knows that his team needs to find a way to fight through the inevitable adversity that presents itself during games in order to advance in the upcoming postseason.

“It’s all about our culture as a team,” Rodriguez said. “We lost a tough one on Friday, but I think we lost a little sight of our culture. It was one of the first times that we had to face adversity…but you gotta play through it.

“It’s our attitude that’s going to get us through it.”

For current basketball schedules, results, rosters and standings for teams throughout the district, go to the Bull Run District website.

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