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November 29, 2012
Wednesday night marked the non-district openers to the 2012-13 High School Basketball season for both the Granby Comets and Deep Creek Hornets. At home in Norfolk, Granby pulled away for a 56-47 victory after leading by only a point at half-time.
"We definitely tried to emphasize defense. Coming out of half-time, we wanted three strong possessions and defensively we wanted to get some steals, rebounds and push the ball," said Granby 6-foot-5 senior center Aaron Meredith.
The Comets opened the third quarter on a 12-5 spurt, getting three-pointers from junior guard Qua Edwards and senior forward Laguna Foster. Those outside makes were timely, particularly for a Granby team that shot only 1-of-11 from beyond the arc in the first half.
Edwards then pushed the lead to double-figures at 46-35 in the early moments of the fourth quarter with a steal and transition bucket. Granby turned blocks and steals all night into hustle points at the other end.
Leading the way for that effort was Meredith, getting recruiting interest from a host of Division I and Division II schools. On the night, Meredith finished with 11 points, seven rebounds and a career-high seven blocks, swatting away shots every time the Hornets penetrated.
"We want to protect the rim, and if a man gets beat, it's my job," said Meredith, one of the players the Comets are most counting on for production after seeing their top three scorers from a season ago graduate. "We lost a lot with seniors graduating, especially Kareem Thompson, who was a big player for us. I felt like I had to fill that void."
Granby controlled the interior much of the game between Meredith and John Nixon, a 6-foot-6 senior center that came off the bench to score four points and grab five rebounds.
"It's almost like a two-headed monster. I've got ten fouls at that spot," admitted Granby Head Basketball Coach Mike Donovan. "Aaron and John are going to be really significant for us this year. Hopefully we're going to get a lot of mileage out of the both of them."
Deep Creek actually had the game's leading scorer in guard D'Andre Mullen, who finished with 16 points on 4-of-9 shooting from behind the arc to follow up a 21-point effort in a season-opening loss to King's Fork. The Hornets also led by a point, 14-13 after one quarter of play.
But Granby shook off a poor shooting start from three-point distance and ratcheted things up defensively to wear down their visitors from Chesapeake. As a result, the Hornets shot only 23% (6-of-26) from the field in the second half.
"I thought we got a number of good plays from a lot of people, and thought the difference in the game for us was we defend really well. Obviously, we gave up a few looks to the Mullen kid, who's a really nice shooter, but for the most part everything that they had to do offensively was a struggle because I thought we got up and defend them, got in the passing lines and pretty much didn't give up too many second shots," noted Donovan.
"I tell my guys all the time, it's nice to win going away. That's easy. If I could draw up a script for a game, I would like it to be a tough game all the way down to the end and make enough plays that get you to the line, you make your free-throws, you take care of the ball, defend. Those are the kind of games where I get a lot of satisfaction. "
To go with Meredith's 11 points, the Comets had two others in double-figures with Edwards' 11 and junior guard Willie White's 10 points. White and Edwards combined to dish out nine assists as well. Foster chipped in nine.
Deep Creek now falls to 0-2 before taking on resurgent Lakeland (2-0) on Friday and battling Northeastern High School out of North Carolina in the Hornet Tip-Off Classic to benefit the American Cancer Society.
Meanwhile, Granby, which has its sights on making the regional playoffs for the third straight year under Donovan, faces its main Eastern District rival in Maury on Friday. An upset of the Commodores would serve notice to the rest of the district that the Comets may be a contender in a league that is always one of the more competitive in the state.
"We like flying under the radar, though," Meredith said. "We just have to take our time, not go too fast and stay patient. They definitely pressure the ball, so we don't want to turn the ball over because that's their game and gets them going."
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 on High School Sports Talk from 10AM to Noon on ESPN Radio 94.1 plus watch him on the Cox 11 Sports Report.
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