By Randy Arrington
SHENANDOAH, Dec. 15 — The Page County High School boys basketball team is still searching for its first win of the season after dropping a pair of non-district match-ups with 3A Broadway last week and its Bull Run District opener to Central on Tuesday night.
The Panthers opened up the season at home on Nov. 30 with a narrow 3-point loss, 55-52, to the Gobblers from the Valley District. Page had a few chances to win the game late and put up a strong performance against a AAA school with better talent. However, Broadway had their way with Page when they hosted the Panthers 10 days later, posting a 66-25 victory on Dec. 10.
On Tuesday night, it was clear that Page and Central made for a good matchup with many similarities on paper. Both teams hope to compete for a district title and advance to the region tournament in February. Both teams carry a 14-man roster, heavy-laden with seniors and one “tall guy.” Despite the fact that the Falcons stepped down from 3A competition a year ago in the Northwest District, they would have their hands full with a scrappy, run-and-gun Panther squad.
And minus seven of the first eight minutes, that’s exactly how the game would play out. For three quarters, Page County played toe-to-toe with Central, matching them 14-14 in the second quarter and outscoring them 13-10 in the third. But it was the opening frame that would prove to be the home team’s proverbial thorn.
After senior Chase Parlett put up the first points of the game in the opening minute, Page County would not lead again until the final minutes of the contest. After that opening shot, the Panthers would hit only one of the next 19 shots taken in the first quarter. They hit only 18 percent from the floor in the first half.
Ricky Campbell, a first team All-Region selection from a season ago, got on the board with six points in the second frame. The senior would finish the night with a team-leading 11 points, including 5-for-6 shooting from the stripe. Senior point guard Caden Good was able to chip in five second-quarter points, including a three-pointer, to keep the deficit at seven going into the half.
Central had an 11-4 lead at the end of the first quarter and held a 25-18 advantage as they headed to the locker room. The Panther defense was able to keep the Falcons in check, while they worked through a shooting drought at the other end of the court.
Page came out strong in the opening minutes of the second half and quickly tied up the game at 27-27 behind five consecutive points from junior Jacob Williams. But the Falcons would not go away, as senior forward Parker Sheetz kept answering the call and helping Central regain the lead. Sheetz finished the night with a game-high 15 points.
While four different Falcons hit shots from beyond the arc in the first half, senior Ryan Barr hit two three-pointers in the fourth quarter that proved key to Central’s ability to pull away in the final minutes. Page had tied the game for a second time, 38-38, about midway through the fourth, but Barr’s shots, along with a bomb by senior Ashton Baker, helped Central keep the edge. Barr had 12 points on the night.
Seniors Caleb Knighton, Campbell and Parlett played big for Page in the fourth — but a trio of three-pointers and three consecutive baskets by Sheetz proved too much for the home team. The Panthers started fouling late but couldn’t overcome the Falcons, dropping their district opener 54-46.
Knighton finished the game with 10 points, while Parlett and senior Dylan Hensley each added six.
Next up, Page County (0-3) will travel to Strasburg on Friday night for their second Bull Run District matchup, while Central (3-0) will travel to Skyline Thursday night before hosting Rappahannock on Friday.
For full schedules, rosters and standings — check out the Bull Run District website.
The PVN Sports broadcast crew selected
Parker Sheetz and Ricky Campbell
as the Blue Ridge Bank “Players of the Game“.
Sheetz, a senior forward, lead the Falcons with a game-high 15 points.
Campbell, a senior guard, lead the Panthers with 11 points.