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June 23, 2010
By JOHNNY BUCK - Bulletin Sports Editor

Tuesday's "Border Bash" 7-on-7 passing tournament attracted eight football teams from outside the Piedmont District, and yet the title game featured two very familiar schools.

Magna Vista's "Team A," made up of skill players expected to start on the varsity this fall, downed Bassett 29-22 in the championship game Tuesday at the Smith River Sports Complex.

The Warriors, who began the morning by losing their first two games, played spoiler to Bassett, a team that entered the title game with a 7-0 record and the event's top seed.

"I don't think we were awake," said MVHS head coach Joe Favero when asked about his team's slow start. "I said, ‘I hope we don't ever play a real game in the morning,' because we were terrible. But we got better as the day went. Harvey (Taylor), he was on fire all afternoon. The guys caught the ball well, and the defense played well."

Interceptions by Magna Vista's Keon Mabin and Tyshawn Mitchell proved to play a big part in the outcome of the title game.

Mabin's interception came on the first possession of the game and halted a BHS drive. Mitchell's pick came near the end of the 20-minute contest, when he jumped a route along the sideline and intercepted a ball to give his team a 27-22 lead.

On offense, MVHS quarterback Harvey Taylor completed a short touchdown pass to running back T.C. Carter, an over-the-shoulder score to Carter and a long TD pass down the right sideline to Trevor Kellam.

After falling behind early, Bassett, which alternated between quarterbacks Mason Maples and Dashaun Valentine, took a 20-18 lead on a short touchdown pass to receiver Shaq Finney in the middle of the end zone.

It was Finney's second TD of the game, and one of many on the day for the rising senior, according to BHS head coach Jay Gilbert.

Gilbert also added that Finney had perhaps 20 total catches in the eight games played and "six or seven interceptions" while manning his cornerback position.

MVHS retook the lead, 24-20, on the long pass to Kellam. Following a BHS first down that pulled the scored to 24-22, Mitchell, a former Carlisle quarterback, pulled in the game-sealing interception for the Warriors' defense.

Despite the title-game loss, Gilbert was very pleased with his team's play.

On June 12, the Bengals finished with a 2-3 record in a similar passing tournament at George Wythe High School, failing to make it out of the first round.

That poor finish made Tuesday's 7-1 record, not to mention his team's 271 total points scored, look all the better.

"This was a big improvement over the George Wythe tournament," said Gilbert. "We went to George Wythe and didn't play well at all. ... That's what you look for in the offseason, is improvement, and we've definitely improved a lot since George Wythe."

Gilbert is undecided about who will start at quarterback this fall for BHS, but he did say he does not want to split the starting spot between Valentine and Maples, as he did last year.

"I've told them both that come (early August), one of them will be the starter," he said.

In addition to scoring on passing touchdowns, teams could also receive 3 points for a defensive interception, 9 points for an interception returned for a TD, 2 points for a first down, 2 points for forcing a turnover on downs and 1 point for completing an extra-point conversion pass after a touchdown. Franklin County (4-3) lost to Bassett, 28-12, in the semifinals, while Cummings High School (6-1) of Burlington, N.C. lost to Magna Vista in the semis, 28-25.

Other schools in the 12-team field were Alleghany (4-3), James River (3-3), G.W. Danville (3-4), Magna Vista's junior varsity team (2-4), Eden (N.C.) Morehead (2-4), Bartlett Yancey (2-4-1) and William Campbell (1-5).

Tunstall finished 0-6 in the tournament, though it did lose two games on last-second, long-bomb touchdowns.