Knapp denied 500th win by Whitesboro

All was set for a grand celebration last Thursday night when the undefeated Vernon-Verona-Sherrill boys basketball team took on Whitesboro in front of a packed house in the VVS "Pit".

With a victory, not only would the Red Devils go to 11-0, it would also give long-time head coach Al Knapp his 500th career victory, a mark gained over 31 seasons on the bench at both VVS and Brookfield.

But the Warriors had no intentions to be a historical footnote.

Instead, with hot shooting all night and lots of poise down the stretch, Whitesboro stunned the state Class A no. 17-ranked Red Devils 78-73 and, by doing so, threw the Tri-Valley League race wide open.

With a noticeable size advantage, Knapp and his players were determined to play closer to the paint in order to negate the Warriors' quickness and speed.

However, VVS didn't count on Whitesboro getting red-hot from the perimeter. For the night, it sank nine of 14 3-point attempts, six of them by Junior Woodard, who finished with 23 points.

That hot touch allowed the Warriors to trade baskets with the Red Devils all through the first half, and take a 36-35 edge to the break, causing a lot of concern among the red-clad faithful all set for a celebration.

VVS inched in front, and appeared to be in great shape when Whitesboro's leading scorer, Joe Bushey, went to the bench with four fouls and sat most of the second half.

However, the Warriors kept on charging and used an 8-0 run to surge in front for good early in the fourth quarter, capped (naturally) by yet another Woodard 3-pointer.

Almost by himself, Evan Croll kept the Red Devils in sight, as he scored 13 of his career-best 28 points in the fourth quarter.

Pushed by Croll, VVS moved within two, 75-73, in the final minute of the game before Woodard and Brandon Rothdeiner combined on a trio of free throws to seal Whitesboro's huge win.

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