Coming into the season as a favorite to make a run into the state tournament, the L.C. Bird Skyhawks had several chores to get done first. Winning the first ever Conference 12 tournament was one of those tasks. Bird defeated a surprising Prince George squad 75-57.
“Prince George was bigger, faster, stronger and more athletic than we expected,” said L.C. Bird head coach Troy Manns. “We tried to get it going on defense, knowing that the offense would come for us.”
That defense started off the game on the right foot, along with the shooting, as Bird connected on four threes early – two from freshman Mario Haskett and two from junior guard and All-Conference 12 first team honoree C.J. Miles.
“That got the crowd going, and it got us going,” explained Conference 12 Player of the Year, Kenny Williams.
After Williams and point guard Malik Johnson found themselves in foul trouble in the first half, two freshman, Haskett and Johquin Wiley, and a junior, Carlos Thrash, stepped in to fill the void. Haskett finished with a game-high 14 points. Thrash, who typically doesn’t get much playing time on a deep roster filled in almost perfectly for the Skyhawks, running the point.
“Carlos stepped up a lot,” said Haskett. “He might not have played as much all season but he stepped up when it counted.”
Bird controlled the game most of the second half, and punctuated that with a big-time alley-oop from Williams to center Thomas Taylor that rocked Chuck Tester Gymnasium.
“There’s nothing better than that atmosphere,” explained Williams. “You have your crowd cheering hard for you, and the opponent’s crowd cheering against you.”
Miles also finished with 14 points. Williams and Taylor had 12 each and senior Ellis Webster rounded out five players in double-figures with 10.
The boys advanced to play Deep Run on Tuesday in the 5A South Region Tournament.*
The L.C. Bird girls lost a tough, grind it out Conference 12 final game to the undefeated Prince George Royals 41-37. Both teams struggled for portions of the game, but neither gave in as it came down to four free throws in the final minute to sink the Skyhawks.
Junior guard and Louisville commit Taja Cole had 12 points for the Skyhawks while Quenswayla Story finished with 10 points. The ladies advanced to host Highland Springs on Tuesday in the region tournament.*
*region results available on twitter @VNewsSports