The Bulldogs (23-6) were eliminated in the Virginia High School League Group A boys basketball semifinals 46-34 by Altavista (18-5), which will be playing Madison County today for the Division 1 championship.
Jerrell Jordan, a 6-foot-4 junior forward, came out of the sick bed to grab 14 rebounds and score 13 points for the Colonels. He had practiced only once since last Saturday, yet Appalachia simply couldn’t box him out.
“Jerrell told us he wanted the ball,’’ winning coach Mike Cartolaro said. “He was active on the glass. His rebounding was huge.’’
Altavista had five of its players on the championship football team and didn’t start the season until Dec. 29.
“Our extended defense was really good,’’ said Cartolaro. “That was the difference.’’
How much it had to do with Appalachia’s poor shooting will never be known. The Bulldogs not only dug a hole for themselves, they excavated.
Appalachia made just 3 of 22 field goals in the opening half and finished the game hitting a meager 25 percent.
“As poorly as we shot, we managed to stay in the game,’’ Bulldogs coach Pat Jervis said. “We were not a good perimeter-shooting team. We made a living off our defensive schemes.’’
Forrest Stuart, Appy’s take-charge guard, went 4-of-15 from the floor and got just 13 points. He’d been averaging around 20.
“Stuart is an outstanding player,’’ Catolaro said. “We made it difficult for him to get shots. We wanted to make Appalachia work.’’
Jervis, whose teams over the last three seasons won a total of 65 games, had hoped to capture a boys title like he once did with the Appalachia girls.
“It’s sad when you have eight seniors, get this far and don’t win it all,’’ he said. “We were shooting for it all, so we’re naturally disappointed. Just one team can win it all.’
Appalachia hit the Colonels with a battery of defenses – to no avail.
“We tried everything we could,’’ Jervis said. “We trapped, we pressed, we played man-to-man and we used a zone.’’
Nick Ferguson also had 13 points to share scoring honors for Altavista.
“When you’re here in the Final Four,’’ said Cartolaro, formerly Virginia High’s coach, “you leave your guts on the floor. At this point, everybody battles.’’
Altavista outrebounded the Bulldogs 36-23. Josh Allen and Miaden Bogicevic each pulled down seven for Appalachia.
Bogicevic, a 6-7, 255-pound center, altered many of Altavista’s inside shots with his strong physical presence.