Lions

Coaches and player of the Halifax Middle School boys basketball team celebrate with middle school principal Dawn Miller after capturing the Jr. Piedmont District Tournament Championship.

The Halifax County Middle School boys basketball team captured their first district tournament championship since moving to the Junior Piedmont District defeating Westwood 55-51 on Thursday evening at Westwood Middle School.

It was a close game that saw Westwood fight back several times, but each time the Lions were able to hold them off and win the tournament championship. Halifax never trailed in the game, but Westwood tied the game for the first time all night with 1:55 seconds to go. It only took 15 seconds for Halifax to retake the lead at 52-50 and they did not relinquish it.

Halifax was led again by Kanya Caddle and Josh Miller. Caddle scored 16 points, and Miller scored 13 for the Lions. Atavion Mabins added eight points, and Shamar Davis had a big game off the bench, scoring eight points as well.

Halifax took a 16-10 lead after the first quarter and finished the first half up 30-24. Halifax saw its first half lead grow to double figures, but Westwood would not go down without a fight, coming back each time that it looked as if the Lions were going to run away with the game.

As the second half got underway it was apparent that the game would go down to the wire, with Westwood going on a 5-0 run to cut the Halifax lead to 1 early in the third quarter. Halifax would then go on a 6-0 run of their own to put a little distance between them and the Tigers.

Westwood would again cut the Halifax lead to two at the start of the fourth quarter, before Halifax would get the lead back up to 6. Westwood's full court press caused several turnovers for the Lions, and with 1:55 to go in the game, Westwood would go on a 6-0 run to tie the game for the first time all night.

On the ensuing possession, Halifax turned the ball over to Westwood who had a chance to take the lead. Westwood missed the shot, Halifax got the rebound and with 1:40 to go Josh Miller coasted for the layup to put the Lions back on top 52-50. Miller scored two transition baskets in the final minute of play to guarantee the victory.

Halifax also held Westwood to only one point after they tied the game with a little less than two minutes to go. A Kanya Caddle steal with 9.3 seconds to go and the Lions up 54-51 would all but seal the game for Halifax. Westwood fouled Caddle who hit one of two at the foul line to give Halifax a two possession lead. A late free throw would give the Halifax Lions the 55-51 win and the title Jr. Piedmont District Tournament Champions.

"We played good team defense, they executed the game plan well," head coach Nelson Baskervill said. "This is a really special team and all the hard work paid off," he added.

When asked about the eighth graders on the team that have been with him for three years, Baskervill had this to say to them: "Your future is bright, keep your head down in the books and work hard in practice. Love you all just like you are my kids," he said.

It takes months of practice and hard work to achieve the goals set out at the beginning of a season, and for the Halifax County Middle School boys basketball team, the ultimate goal was achieved on Thursday night when they were crowned champions.

Johnathan Kirland is a sports writer for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact himĀ jkirkland@gazettevirginian.com.