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December 8, 2012
The first showdown between two teams ranked in the VirginiaPreps.com AAA Hoops Preseason State Top 10 came on Friday night between a couple of Capital at Highland Springs High School when the ninth-ranked Springers played host to the #2 ranked Henrico Warriors.
Expected to be a fast-paced battle for 32 minutes, it started out as an up-tempo clash, but things slowed down in the second quarter with Henrico winning a lower scoring game than they're accustomed to playing, 58-51 to improve their record to 3-0 overall on the season.
"It's a tremendous win because it's a district win, and second of all because it was against a rival. That had something to do with the score and the conditions of being hot and kids cramping up," remarked Henrico Head Basketball Coach Vance Harmon afterwards.
"Both teams came out, rolled their sleeves up and we got stops when we needed. We held them to 1-of-16 from the three-point line, which I thought was tremendous as well as winning the rebounding battle by +11, two pretty big stats to me."
After grabbing a 15-5 lead going into the second quarter, Henrico then outscored Highland Springs 14-4 over the next eight minutes to go up double-figures at intermission. The Warriors led by as many as 16.
Highland Springs didn't score a field goal the last 5:27 of the first half. The Springers also didn't attempt a single free-throw through two quarters of play. Led by senior guards Jordon Talley and Tim Jones, the Warriors' emphasis was to keep Highland Springs floor general C.J. Wiggins in check. That objective was accomplished, holding Wiggins to four points on 1-of-8 shooting on the night.
Highland Springs would make a run in the second half, pulling within two with 57 seconds remaining. Talley, who scored a game-high 23 points on 10-of-15 shooting, stepped up in crunch time with a basket to make it a two possession game, followed by a pair of free-throws.
"I just felt like I had to make a play and then make a big stop on the defensive end. We did what we had to do," Talley commented.
"The whole week, we were practicing defense and Coach kept preaching defense. We wanted to play good help defense and keep C.J. out of the paint. Some nights we win it at the offensive end and other nights we can win it with defense. For the last two years, we've led the state in scoring, so we know if we play good defense we can win every game."
Henrico got contributions from all over with 6-foot-6 senior forward Marvin Smith posting a double-double, 13 points and 13 rebounds, and Stephen Booker collecting 13 rebounds to go with seven points. Smith, long and active in the front-court, was a major factor against Highland Springs' Ralph Stovall, who nearly recorded a double-double as well with 19 points, nine boards and six steals.
"Marvin's a big part of the team and he's the third captain along with Tim and me," Talley pointed out. "We've been on the team for four years and we've all known each other since we were little."
That chemistry is a big plus for Henrico. Their other starters, Jones and freshman De'Monte Buckingham, added 11 points and four assists on the night.
Even after graduating Capital District Player of the Year Evan Thorpe, who's now playing his College Basketball at Christopher Newport University, Henrico continues to boast a balanced attack with several different weapons capable of striking.
"No matter what happens in the game, it's what we do and that we're trying to have success. Whether it's points, rebounding, defending, it doesn't make a difference who does it as long we do it together. On any given night, any one of us can do it and I think that's carried over throughout the years," Harmon stated.
"Our guys are interchangeable to me. Our seniors, particularly Smith, Jones, Talley, Booker, whoever's hot, they just tend to rise to the occasion. The great thing is they don't have egos, they're happy for each other, which is rare for young kids. It's kind of a next man up mentality. That's one reason why we can have a decent program."
Henrico, which finished 28-3 overall last season and made it to the State Final Four before being eliminated by eventual Champ Hampton 74-60, has grand expectations. Their seniors are looking at it as State Championship or bust this year.
"It's a well-rounded team. We're just trying to get better game-by-game. If we don't win it, then it's a season of failure. We want to leave it all on the court."
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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