His coach, however, was a little more concerned.
“I knew they were going to go in,” Whitaker said after hitting both shots from the line with 25 seconds remaining against Grundy and boosting the Generals to a 55-54 win in the opening round of the Grand Home Furnishings Holiday Classic basketball tournament at Virginia-Wise’s Prior Convocation Center.
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While the senior was confident in his shots, first-year Lee coach Kevon Honeycutt was admittedly holding his breath.
“I was a little nervous. I’m not going lie,” Honeycutt said. “These guys have hit some big shots throughout the year. These guys have responded in every game we played and they’ve made big shots and those were two of the biggest shots of the season so far.”
Lee (5-1) trailed Grundy for most of the game but never went away. Down 47-40 after three quarters, the Generals battled back and with 2:18 remaining took a 51-50 lead on a basket from Whitaker.
That triggered five lead changes over the final two minutes.
Logan Grace scored 16 points, Whitaker had 11 points and 11 rebounds and Dylan Fannon added 11 points for Lee.
Grundy’s Cade Looney played his way into the tournament record book by blocking 11 shots, breaking the record of 10 set by Honaker’s Alec Anderson in 2016. The Golden Wave (4-1) had 12 blocked shots total, a team record, and broke the tournament mark of 11 set by Honaker in 2016.
Looney finished with a triple-double after scoring 23 points and grabbing 14 rebounds. Jake McCoy added 16 points for Grundy.
Lee advanced to Friday’s 4 p.m. quarterfinal against Virginia High. Grundy dropped into the consolation bracket and plays Chilhowie on Saturday at 5:30 p.m.
RIDGEVIEW 73, NORTHWOOD 62
Junior Gabe Brown and freshman Cannon Hill recorded double-doubles to lead the Wolfpack (6-2) to the win. Brown finished with 23 points and 13 rebounds and Hill had 21 points and 16 boards.
Ridgeview also got 11 points and eight rebounds from Joey Yates.
Northwood (2-3) got 27 points from Luke Carter. Eli Carter scored 23 points and Mike Frye snagged 11 rebounds.
Ridgeview advanced to face defending tournament champion Eastside at 7 p.m. in Friday’s quarterfinals. Northwood plays Rye Cove on Saturday at 4 p.m. in the consolation round.
RICHLANDS 80, RYE COVE 44
Richlands (3-2) held a 23-19 advantage after the first quarter but outscored Rye Cove 26-6 in the second to build a comfortable lead at halftime.
Luke Wess led the Blue Tornado with 14 points. Ethan Shreve added 11 and Cade Berry had 10.
The Eagles (4-2) got 14 points apiece from Ethan Chavez and Mason Hardin. Chavez also grabbed nine rebounds.
Richlands moved on to a quarterfinal matchup with Honaker on Friday at 5:30 p.m. Rye Cove plays Northwood on Saturday at 4 p.m. in a consolation game.
J.I. BURTON 71, CHILHOWIE 58
J.I. Burton (5-1) picked up the big win despite the absence of senior starter Mikey Culbertson, who missed the game because of the flu.
The Raiders were up by just five, 39-34, at halftime before outscoring Chilhowie (4-5) by an 18-6 margin in the third to pull away.
Burton had four players hit double-figure scoring. Zac Campbell put up 23 points, Jonah Cochrane had 16, Isaiah Kinser scored 14 and Trevor Culbertson finished with 10.
Chilhowie (4-5) got 11 points from Ray Berry and Lucas Doss had 10.
Burton advanced to meet Union at 8:30 p.m. on Friday in the quarterfinals. Chilhowie plays Grundy on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. in the consolation bracket.