Eagles hold off Panthers 55-44

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 18, 2006

ASKEWVILLE – To their credit, the Panthers of James River Christian Academy did not have much time to warm up and stretched their legs before tip off of the BACA Holiday Classic.

Coach Mike Alexander’s squad had to take a major detour to get the arena due to a traffic accident.

Nevertheless the Panthers looked to keep the home team from sweeping the championship round by containing senior guard Larry Caldwell who was looking to score his 1,000th career point.

The plan did not start off well for the Panthers who found themselves trailing 15-8 after the first period.

The only bright spot for the visitors was the fact that Caldwell had picked up his third personal foul at the 6:20 mark of the second period.

With Caldwell on the bench, coach Joe Mizelle’s team struggled with their shot selection and despite watching their lead swell to 10 points early in the second period, James River came back fighting.

Three consecutive treys by the Panthers, two by Ethan Acree and one by Steven Crownover, put Victory ahead 28-26 with 1:10 left in the second.

Tournament MVP Josh Freeman responded with a three pointer of his own with 25 seconds remaining in the quarter to give the Eagles the lead at the half 29-28.

Mizelle’s squad regained momentum to start off the third period and took a 38-30 lead when Caldwell hit a three pointer for the 998th, 999th and 1,000th points of his career.

The game was stopped briefly so that Mizelle could award a game ball to Caldwell for his accomplishment.

Victory hit two straight buckets to end the quarter and trailed Bethel 38-34 after three quarters.

Despite a moderate height advantage, Eagles center Stephen Miller dominated the boards early in the fourth quarter as the Bethel held on to a four-point advantage with seven minutes remaining in the championship.

A free throw by James River’s Crownover gave the Panthers a 41-40 lead with just over four minutes remaining.

Frank Feher’s lay up at the 3:58 mark put the Eagles back on top 42-41 and Mizelle’s team would not give up the lead again as Caldwell and Freeman scored 10 of the final 15 points to secure the 55-44 victory.

Caldwell, and Miller were named to the All-Tournament team along with MVP Freeman who had 19 points, 11 rebounds five steals and four assists in the championship game.

Bethel (55): Josh Freeman – 19, Larry Caldwell – 17, S. Miller – 9, F. Feher – 6, J. Hoggard – 4

James River (44): Steven Crownover – 17, Ethan Acree – 12, Hunter Byrum – 10, D. Joslin – 3, B. Fearing – 2