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November 13, 2012
Justice was served on Wednesday nights in the Hampton Roads Fall League at the Boo Williams Sportsplex. The John Marshall Justices from the Central Region made the weekly trek in September and October to take on some of the best competition the Eastern Region has to offer and was the last one standing out of 16 teams, winning 17 of the 18 games they played.
John Marshall defeated Green Run 52-48 in double-overtime of the Fall League Championship. They trailed the entire game until Brian White's basket at the buzzer tied the score and forced overtime. White hit the game-winning basket in the semifinals of the Fall League playoffs to help the Justices edge King's Fork, 61-59.
"It's a big sacrifice that our parents, our players and our coaches made every single week, but at the end of the day, it's worth it," said John Marshall Fall League Coach Michael Blackwell. "We did it as a team, as a unit. Our key thing every single day and every single week is to stay hungry. You never get full off of any game, any quarter and as long as this team stays hungry, we're going to position ourselves to accomplish our goal at the end of the day."
White led the way in the Championship with 18 points and 11 rebounds. To go with White's scoring inside and outside the paint as well as his rebounding, the Justices got stellar guard play throughout, most notably from seniors Dominique Terry and Gee Dean-McBride. Terry provided them with perimeter shooting, while Dean-McBride pushed the ball up the court and got into the teeth of the defense.
Dean-McBride scored 11 of his 14 points after half-time. Terry chipped in 12, nailing big shots all Fall League long and proving to be a zone buster against teams that didn't go man-to-man against them.
"For the last two months since school has started it's just been about working together, continuity and working as a team," Blackwell added. "We're obviously not as talented as some of the state contenders are, but we know if we work together as 15 players, stick together, we're going to accomplish a lot more than what people think we are. We want to be the last time playing as far as AAA at the Siegel Center, and our goal is a state title."
Green Run, which beat Great Bridge 48-38 in the other semifinal, relied heavily on its terrific backcourt tandem of Lequan Thomas and Tyler Blount. Blount had 20 points against Great Bridge and followed that up with 14 versus John Marshall. Thomas consistently used his quickness to get to the basket or penetrate and find an open man, finishing with 11 points and four assists in the Championship.
Giving the Stallions a lift in the front-court was freshman Sterling Carrington with nine points as he battled a D-1 talent in White (Citadel commit) quite well for someone who has yet to play a game on the varsity level.
Even after the senior trio of White, Dean-McBride and Terry that are the headliners for John Marshall, they have a solid rotation of underclassmen that'll play vital roles for them this year and in the future. They include 6-foot-7 sophomore Nate Williams, junior guard Quaman Burton, sophomore guard Taqqi Muhammad and freshman guard Jeremy Sheppard.
Clearly, the Justices have a good enough mixture to be a factor in both the Central Region and on a state scale at the Group AAA level. That's even after seeing a pair of 20-plus point per game scorers graduate in Jestin Lewis (Wallace State CC in Alabama) and Willie Mangum (Western Nebraska CC). This year's squad may be more balanced in the long run.
"With the 70 points per game we graduated from last year, it basically came from three players. For other teams when they defended us, that let them focus on the three players," Blackwell noted.
"This year we're focusing on involving all five players on the floor on the offensive end. That was our goal in this Fall League, and I think we accomplished that and it showed every week that we came down here with balanced scoring. Our motto is to stay ready so we don't have to get ready, and that's kind of what our guys have been doing."
Marshall 2013 F Brian White
Matthew Hatfield serves as State Basketball Analyst for VirginiaPreps.com, part of the Rivals.com Network. Check out Hatfield's Twitter page for more sports related updates, and you can also read his work in the Suffolk News Herald. To contact Matthew, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, and don't forget to listen to him Saturdays from 10AM to Noon on ESPN Radio 94.1 plus watch him on the Cox 11 Sports Report.
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