LYNCHBURG, VA. – Freshman Jay Melendez hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer on Friday night as the Apprentice School pulled out a 98-95 win over Virginia University of Lynchburg in a key U.S. Collegiate Athletic Association contest in the Lynchburg City Armory.
In a contest that saw nine ties and eight lead changes, the Builders jumped out to a 19-13 lead with 9:48 left in the half on a Darrell Fenton jumper. The hosts fought back into the contest and took a 25-24 lead with 7:11 left on a pair of free throws from Lakuan McPhaul. Apprentice School (15-8) pushed back and grew the lead to seven points on two occasions, the last being on a Fenton layup with 1:49 left to go up 44-37. They took a 47-43 lead into the half after the Dragons' Dennis Gravely nailed a jumper with four seconds left in the first half.
The second half saw the Builders get a little cushion and take a 12-point lead on a Lance Darden 3-pointer with 15:16 left to lead 62-50. Virginia University of Lynchburg made a run to cut the lead to two on a 3-pointer from Martin Sheffield with 8:48 left to trail 75-73. Apprentice School worked the lead back to six points on three occasions, the last being on a Tevin Andrews jumper with 5:43 left to lead 84-78.
A quick 6-0 spurt by the Dragons tied the game for the sixth time at 84-all on an Egor Shakhmetov jumper with 4:47 left. Melendez hit a 3-pointer to put the Builders back up 87-84 nine seconds later, but the hosts rallied and took their first lead since midway in the first half on a Dennis Gravely jumper with 2:33 left to lead 90-89.
The teams traded the lead as McPhaul's three-point play with 1:36 left put the hosts up 93-92. On the ensuing possession, Lance Darden was fouled shooting a 3-pointer which gave him three free throws. He drained them all to put the Builders up 95-93 with 1:32 left. After a pair of missed shots by each team, Gravely hit a jumper with 32 seconds left to tie the game for the ninth time at 95-all.
The Builders came down and worked a play to get Melendez an open look at a 3-pointer which he drained at the horn for the road win.
Andrews paced five Builders in double figures with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Melendez was next with 18 points and seven boards. Fenton added 17 points and two blocked shots while Darden had 16 points and Terrence Palmer threw in 10 points and four assists. The Builders hit 50% from the field (38-of-76) for the game and were 19-of-35 in the second half (54.3%). They were even warmer from 3-point range in the second half hitting 7-of-12 (58.3%).
Shakhmetov topped six in double figures for VUL (11-22) with 25 points and 10 rebounds. They were 36-of-70 from the field for the game (51.4%) and were even hotter in the second half at 20-of-31 (64.5%) and hit 6-of-10 from 3-point range (60%).
Apprentice School now ventures north to Media, PA to face Williamson Trade at 4 pm on Saturday.