The Walsingham Academy varsity boys basketball team closed out the conference portion of their regular season schedule in front of a large crowd on Tuesday night. The Trojans hosted Norfolk Academy in a rematch of last year's TCIS Championship. Although the regular season championship was not on the line, the stakes were very significant for both teams.
Prior to the game, the Trojans honored the six senior members of their varsity basketball program. Managers Lisa Elfendahl and Christin Toth, and players Liam Miller, Braden Exton, Sam Jones, and Jaylin Stewart were introduced with their families in front of their home crowd for one final time in the regular season. A special ceremony also recognized Jaylin Stewart for reaching the 2,000 career points scored milestone last week.
The game started off with a quick 7-0 run by the Bulldogs of Norfolk Academy. A pair of baskets by Marcus Banks '21 and Lincoln Lubsen '21 brought the Trojans back into the game and the lead was down to just two points by the end of the first quarter. The Trojans briefly took a lead in the second quarter but a few late baskets by Norfolk Academy tied the score at 18 at halftime.
The second half started very similar to the first, as the Bulldogs opened the third quarter on a quick 6-0 run to build a lead. The Trojans would not go away though as Marcus Banks finished an old-fashioned three-point play followed by three-pointers by Sam Jones '19 and Henry Kalnius '21 to briefly give the Trojans a lead. This lead did not last long though as Norfolk Academy knocked down two late threes to take a 36-32 lead going into the fourth quarter.
After a slow start to the final quarter, the Trojans trailed by seven points with less than four minutes to play, tying their largest deficit of the game. Marcus Banks single-handedly brought the Trojans back by scoring their next 7 points, cutting the deficit to three with just over a minute to go. A pair of free throws by Braden Exton '19 cut the Bulldogs lead to just one point with less than a minute to go. The Bulldogs followed by going 1-for-2 from the line to put the lead at two with 35 seconds to play. Marcus Banks came through for the Trojans one more time with an incredible fadeaway three while drawing the foul! After knocking down the free throw to give the Trojans a two-point lead, the Trojans caused a quick turnover and forced the Bulldogs to foul. Braden Exton, Marcus Banks, and Lincoln Lubsen all knocked down free throws down the stretch to secure the lead and give the Trojans a 51-47 victory.
Marcus Banks led all scorers with 26 points, including 12 in the final quarter. Sam Jones scored eight points while adding nine rebounds and three assists. Braden Exton scored seven points while going 5-for-5 from the free throw line. Lincoln Lubsen and Henry Kalnius both finished with five points for the Trojans as well.
On Marcus Banks' heroic four-point play in the final minute of the game, he also reached a personal milestone. This shot gave Marcus 1,000 career points scored in his Walsingham career. He is the third Trojans' player to reach a career milestone this year as Sam Jones reached the 1,000-point mark in January and Jaylin Stewart reached the 2,000-point mark last week.
The Trojans are now 20-7 on the season, and finished 7-3 in the TCIS. This is the 10th consecutive 20-win season for Coach Billy Barnes and the Trojans. With the win, the Trojans secured the #2 seed in the TCIS tournament next week. The loss sends Norfolk Academy to 5-5 in the TCIS, putting them at #7 in the TCIS standings. This sets up a rematch between these two teams on Tuesday, Feb. 19, at Walsingham in the first round of the TCIS Tournament. The Trojans are also currently ranked #2 in the VISAA Division III State poll. The state tournament begins on Tuesday, Feb. 26.