Ashburn, Va. (January 23, 2014) – With January’s icy grip holding fast over Ashburn, the Spartans and Bulldogs took their Battle inside.
The new year’s first edition of the Battle Of the ‘Burn was fought in the gymnasium at Broad Run High School – but it was the guys in the Stone Bridge uniforms who captured the glory over their rivals from 2.7 miles away.
The Bulldogs (11-2) soundly triumphed over the Spartans (9-3) by a 77-55 score Thursday night, marking the 11th consecutive victory under first-year head coach Corey Stitzel.
“I come from college basketball where it’s impossible to win on the road. So every time you go on the road, it’s a battle,” said Stitzel. He joins the high school ranks after several stints as a collegiate coach, including top-assistant positions with Division I programs James Madison and Marist.
He found out from his players that Stone Bridge hadn’t beaten Broad Run in boys’ basketball for two years.
“To come out here with this crowd against a 9-2 team that’s playing as well as anybody in Northern Virginia, I think this is the next step that our program needs to take.”
No matter what the temperature outside, inside the Bulldogs were making their own heat as the rivalry tilt got underway. Jason Jolly was on fire from beyond the arc, nailing four 3-pointers before the game was six minutes old.
“I felt good. My teammates found me in open space, and I was able to knock a few down,” said Jolly, a diminutive but quick point guard receiving interest from Division II programs in his senior season.
Nick Barnes, the Bulldogs’ athletic 6-foot-7 center, got loose for eight early points. Julian Albizo held a personal parade to the foul stripe, drilling six early freebies.
The onslaught had Stone Bridge up 20 in the first quarter, which ended with a 28-10 score.
The Spartans closed the gap in the second, hitting a few free throws after missing their first six. Bryce Humphrey, matched up against Jolly all night, displayed some slashiness of his own. He found room at the rim for six rapid points, bringing Broad Run within 11 by halftime.
Early in the third, that margin quickly shrunk to nine but just as quickly grew back to 15, then 22, before settling back to 15 by the start of the fourth quarter.
It was all over but the shouting at that point, and the Bulldogs cruised to a rare win in their rivals’ house.
“We got going early, and I think that gave us the confidence to come in and beat a really quality opponent,” Stitzel said.
The three-headed monster of Jolly, Barnes and Albizo handled scoring duties, led by 23 from Albizo. Jolly dished five assists and put in 20 points, while Barnes had 19. John Bohanon had the only Stone Bridge 3-pointer not authored by Jolly.
Colin Jachimowski was active on the boards, hauling in nine rebounds. The junior guard added four assists and four steals to his six points.
Broad Run was led offensively by a triumvirate of its own. Humphrey laid in 17 points, while Tyriek King had 16 and Jaleel Robinson contributed 13. Drew Johnson put in the Spartans’ sole 3-pointer.
Free throw shooting was among the contest’s most telling statistics. Stone Bridge hit 20 of 23 from the line, including Albizo’s 13 of 14. Broad Run struggled, connecting on just 10 of 22.
The crammed schedule means that both teams return to action Friday night. The Bulldogs face another road challenge when they travel to Potomac Falls, while the Spartans square off against their other intra-Ashburn rival, the Briar Woods Falcons.
The Battle Of the ‘Burn is set to return Jan. 30, when the Bulldogs host the Spartans.
Stitzel relishes the neverending series of challenges he’s facing as a high school head coach.
“I’m having as much fun coaching these kids as I’ve ever had as a coach,” he said. “I’ve coached in some big games in some big arenas, but coaching these kids has been a joy.”