Three quarters of Friday night’s boys basketball game between Altavista and Nelson County was a defensive duel, similar to a chess match between two teams tied for second place in the Dogwood District.

By contrast, the fourth quarter was more of an offensive battle played at a furious pace, with the visiting Colonels (8-2, 3-1 Dogwood) holding on for a 57-53 victory. That was despite being outscored 34-25 in the final eight minutes, the last four without senior big man, Jerrell Jordan, who fouled with Altavista leading 34-24.

Nelson senior Trevor Martin, who scored 12 of his game-high 23 points after Jordan picked up his fifth foul, sank two free throws following his fourth with 4:15 to play. He then finished an athletic backcourt steal and behind-the-back save by Jerome Glover, drawing the Governors (5-6, 2-2) back within 44-38.

“It was kind of hard because everything wasn’t going our way so we had to get our team momentum up,” said Altavista’s Devin Woodruff, who scored 13 points and drew three charges. “Everybody’s heads kept going down because we kept fouling. We just had to fight through it and keep our heads up. Once we got our momentum going and everybody was on the same page, we were good to go.”

Martin, who added 11 rebounds and three steals, cut the deficit to 48-46 with a three-point play with 2:36 to go. He nearly forced another back-court steal with a diving effort moments later, deflecting an inbounds pass and diving head-first as if he was pouncing on a fumbled football before rolling over on it out of bounds.

He made it a one-point game, 51-50, with a minute left after getting a roll on a driving shot on the right baseline, but missed the bonus foul shot that could have tied it.

Altavista’s Mike Robinson, who scored 14 of his team-high 18 points from the foul line, hit one of two free throws with 50 seconds left and two more 20 seconds later after the Colonels grabbed the offensive rebound, extending the lead to 54-50. Martin then missed both of his foul shots with 23 seconds to go and Robinson sank one of two three more times down the stretch to seal the win.

“It was a great win on the road,” Altavista coach Mike Cartolaro said. “We had three starters foul out and we didn’t have one starter here, Hunter Shelhorse, due to the death of his grandmother. So we played an awful lot of the fourth quarter without four starters and managed to hold on. To foul out three and not have a fourth one here and to play most of the fourth quarter on somebody’s floor and you’re trying to survive the flurry, I was proud of that.”

Nelson County had four players foul out as well as it was forced to foul to stop the clock.

“I thought we fought real hard in the fourth quarter and just came up a little bit short,” Governors coach Brandon Garrett said.

The Governors took Jordan (five points, six rebounds) out of the offense by using a sagging man-to-man, with Martin matching up on him.

“We did a good job on Jerrell,” Garrett said. “That was our game plan. He had like five points, but the other guys hurt us.”

Nelson’s offense fed off its defensive intensity in the fourth quarter.

“We got the lead and once they got down, we had the lead at 12 or 13, they started picking up full-court pressure and it got a little bit hectic,” Cartolaro said. “It was really a tale of two games, the first three quarters and the fourth quarter.”