Blue Ridge Boys Basketball Blows Second-Half Lead to Tri-Point in Season Opener

GIBSON CITY, Ill. -- With only one varsity player (Tucker Johnson) remaining from last year's regional championship team, the Knights will count on some younger players to play big roles for the team.

With those younger players come growing pains, such as giving up second-half leads. In its season opener at the Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley Thanksgiving Tournament, Blue Ridge had a 47-38 halftime lead.

Tri-Point outscored the Knights 18-13 in the third quarter to cut the lead to 60-56. Then the Chargers stole the game with a 28-19 run in the fourth quarter, winning the game 84-79.

Tri-Point began the fourth quarter run with an 11-3 run that put the Chargers up 67-63 with 5:42 left in the game. The last two points of that run were scored when Terry Barnhart stole the ball and drove for a layup on the fastbreak.

According to Blue Ridge coach Kyle Watson, turnovers were one of the keys to Tri-Point's come-from-behind victory.

"They went man-to-man and pressured [us] in the second half, and they forced us into a lot of turnovers," Watson said. "With us being this young, I told them in the locker room it's gonna be something we have to learn from."

Tucker Johnson was Blue Ridge's leading scorer with 27 points. Jon Jones contributed 19 points, including six 3-pointers in the first half.

"He had a great first half, but then they really tightened up the defense in the second half," Watson said. "He hurt their zone in the first half."

For Tri-Point, Barnhart led the team with 30 points, including 16 in the first quarter. 

"He was a stud. He was a horse," Watson said. "We did a nice job on him [after the first quarter]; we attacked him and got him to foul trouble and fouled him out of the game."

Despite yielding only eight points to Barnhart in the fourth quarter, the Chargers were able to put up 28 points thanks to 18-of-25 shooting from the free-throw line. Jordan Tharp sank 10 of his 12 fourth-quarter free-throw attempts to finish with a total of 20 points.

With less than 30 seconds remaining and the Knights trailing 82-77, Tharp intercepted a Michael Plunk pass and was fouled on the fastbreak by Johnson, who fouled out of the game as a result. Tharp made one of his two ensuing free-throw attempts.

"They attacked the basket, and we turned the ball over, so that's something we need to learn from," Watson said. "We need to be the people that are attacking the basket. It's gonna be awfully hard to win games when you give up [more than] 80 points. We definitely have to build our defense a lot better than what it was tonight."

With the loss, Blue Ridge starts its season with an 0-1 record. The Knights will continue playing in the GCMS Thanksgiving Tournament on Tuesday against Prairie Central at 6:30 p.m.

"I told the kids in the locker room we did some really nice things," Watson said. "We've got to build on those nice things we did, take away some of the mistakes and use this as a learning point. I know it's early and we're young, so if we can use this as a learning point, then it's gonna be something where we'll have success down the road. But we can't make the same mistakes we made tonight, unfortunately. We have to build on this, and we'll have to do it within 24 hours. I'm sure Prairie Central's going to press us tomorrow night, too."

Tri-Point 84, Blue Ridge 79
Tri-Point (84)
Dylan Juergens 4 2-2 11, Jordan Tharp 4 10-12 20, Ryan DeFord 4 4-11 12, Timmy Crouch 1 0-0 3, Nathan Hoffman 2 2-2 8, Terry Barnhart 10 7-8 30. Totals 25 25-34 84
Blue Ridge (79)
Trenor Hildreth 0 1-2 1, Michael Plunk 4 3-4 12, Jon Jones 6 1-2 19, C.J. Bishop 1 0-0 3, Daniel Gilbert 1 0-0 2, Clint O'Neal 2 1-2 5, Travys Nichols 4 2-3 10, Tucker Johnson 10 7-10 27. Totals 28 15-23 79
Tri-Point    21    17    18    28    -- 84
Blue Ridge    25    22    13    19    -- 79
3-pointers -- Tri-Point 9 (Barnhart 3, Hoffman 2, Tharp 2, Crouch, Juergens). Blue Ridge 8 (Jones 6, Bishop, Plunk).

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