JAMES CITY — As Ryan Jones sat on the sidelines, attended by a trainer 14 seconds into the second half of a tie game, the contents of his upset stomach visible just a few feet away on the court, Smithfield High's chances of clinching a first-ever Bay Rivers District boys basketball title Friday appeared grim.
Jones missed only a half-minute of play, but he and his teammates continued their poor shooting, and by the end of the third quarter the situation was even more dire as the Packers trailed Jamestown by 11 points. Then Jones, the Packers' senior point guard, showed why many consider him the best player in the district.
He began the fourth quarter by scoring the first eight points in a 10-1 run that pulled the Packers to within two points. Ignited by his spark, the Packers scored on their final 12 possessions to rally past Jamestown 62-56.
The victory gave Smithfield (17-2, 16-0) its first championship in the 25-year history of the Bay Rivers District. Jamestown (14-3, 12-3), the surprise team of the district this season, is left to battle Grafton — its opponent Wednesday — for the second seed behind Smithfield in the upcoming Conference 18 tournament.
"It feels great," Jones, who scored a game-high 23 points, said of winning the BRD title. "We've come a long way from my freshman year to now.
"I don't know what happened: I think I drank too much water. But I had to come back and take over the game.
"Jamestown wanted to pick up the energy, so we picked it up right back."
After the teams battled to a 24-all halftime tie, the Eagles played with non-stop hustle in the third quarter. Diamonte Brown and Evan Wang gave them the lead midway through the quarter with consecutive 3-pointers.
That lead continued to grow as Michael Schmidt, who tallied 16 points and 12 rebounds, led the Eagles' effort inside.
Everyone contributed to a Jamestown defense that smothered the Packers, who were just 14 of 45 from the field after three quarters. Jamestown led 46-35 entering the final quarter.
"I didn't think our guys were giving effort, and were a little stunned by Jamestown's surge," Smithfield coach Richard Pullen said. "I told them, 'Let's forget the score, get the energy and effort going, and finish it off.' "
Following a Schmidt basket on a pass from Evan Wang that increased the Eagles' lead to 49-45 with 4:14 left, Nick Turner (11 points) began a key nine-point run for the Packers with a 3-pointer. Kendell Shepherd scored the next six points for the Packers — on a floater, a steal-and-basket and two free throws — to make it 54-49.
The Packers, who were 16 of 17 at the free-throw line in the fourth quarter, held off the Eagles by making 10 consecutive free throws in the final minute. What should've been a joyous celebration turned ugly as the head coaches exchanged heated words afterward and fans from the opposing sides yelled at each other on the court.
No punches were thrown, but there appeared to be shoving among fans before things settled down. The policeman on the scene reportedly called for backup quickly, and the incident did not spread outside.
Jamestown coach Donovan Bridgeforth said he initiated the verbal exchange with Pullen because a Smithfield player ran to the Jamestown student section and taunted Eagles students following the final buzzer.
"It was about sportsmanship," Bridgeforth said.
Pullen said, "There was a little bit of an incident — one of our players may have facilitated that. We just need to be careful we treat teams with respect."
Concerning the district championship, Pullen said, "It's a credit to the guys. They sold out to the team effort. We've been building to this."
SMITHFIELD 62, JAMESTOWN 56
SMITHFIELD (17-2, 16-0): Shepherd 14, Moore 2, Turner 11, Jones 23, Stafford 12. Totals 19 17-19 62.
JAMESTOWN (14-3, 12-3): Green 4, M. Wang 6, Brown 7, E. Wang 7, Schmidt 16, Lipscomb 5, Swain 11. Totals 21 8-11 56.
Smithfield11131127 — 62Jamestown7172210 — 56
3-point goals: Smithfield 7 (Jones 3, Turner 2, Shepherd 2), Jamestown 6 (M. Wang 2, Green, Brown, Lipscomb, Swain). JV: Smithfield won.