Calling the roll of the River Ridge District Quiz Bowl qualifiers for the February 9 Region IV tournament:
2012 VHSL AA State Champion Cave Spring? Check.
2011 VHSL AA State Champion Christiansburg? Check.
Hidden Valley? Uh, say again?
Cave Spring topped Christiansburg twice to claim the District Championship in the January 23 tournament, and both teams moved on to the Region IV tournament. The Knights (6 straight berths) and Blue Demons (3 straight berths) are familiar faces in the Region IV mix.
But Coach Tom Spence’s Titans, led by captain Sachith Gullapali, upset Blacksburg 230-220 in sudden death overtime to claim the River Ridge’s third berth. This is the first time in school history that Hidden Valley has moved past the district level.
They will join Cave Spring and Christiansburg at the regional tournament at Bassett High School. The top two teams at the regional tournament qualify for the VHSL State Tournament; two River Ridge teams have qualified for the state tournament every year the regional tournament has been contested since 2008.
Quiz Bowl is a team competition in which 4 person teams buzz in to answer questions on history, science, literature, math, the arts, and popular culture. The VHSL matches consist of 3 rounds–two 15-question tossup rounds sandwiching a directed question round in which team members can consult with each other.
Cave Spring, 7-0 in VHSL play this year, came in as first seed in the double-elimination tournament, and proved too strong for the field. James Cole, junior captain for the Knights, averaged 123 points per game to lead all scorers in the tournament. After an opening round bye, they turned an early 30-10 deficit to Hidden Valley into a 100-40 lead after the first period. After the ensuing 295-175 victory, they moved on to face Christiansburg in a semifinal round match. The Blue Demons swapped answers with Cave Spring and edged to a 175-150 lead early in the final round. From there, the Knights went on a 120-20 run to close out the match 270-195. In that run, Cole had 60 points, senior Maddie Burton had 50 (including 40 in a row) and senior Brett Smith contributed 10.
In the final match, Cave Spring again faced Christiansburg, which had eliminated Hidden Valley to earn its way back. This time, Cole, Burton, Smith and Colin Rooney ran off to a 105-35 lead in the first round, and cruised to 270-175 victory.
While the host Knights rolled, the Titans won the match of the tournament, enduring two sudden-death questions to defeat Blacksburg and guarantee a third place finish. The teams entered the final question of the third round tied, and neither could provide the correct answer which would have earned the win. Gullapali took advantage of the overtime question, to give Hidden Valley the win. It was the second win-or-go home game they faced as they worked their way back through the consolation bracket.
The Titans started the day with a 230-170 win over Salem before falling to Cave Spring. That loss dropped them into the consolation bracket, where Gallipali, joined by Paras Patel, Soni Patolia, Rachel Rosenfeld, Anton Androsov, Aaron Sunil and Katherine Yang, eliminated Pulaski County 285-105. This put them into the consolation semifinal game against Blacksburg–a duplicate of their performance in the 2012 tournament. But, where last year’s season ended there, the 2013 version turned the tables on the Bruins to move into the consolation finals match. There, the day’s magic ran out, as Christiansburg notched a 304-145 win.
Still, Spence and his young team eagerly look forward to the regional tournament. It’s part of a progression, as Spence noted. “Sachith has been great, and we now have several younger players starting out to help us build the team in the years going forward.” In that, they are following the blueprint laid out by Cave Spring and Christiansburg.
Submitted by Ken Flint