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December 29, 2012
In a battle between one of the state's top private schools and one of the best public school programs in Virginia, the Cape Henry Collegiate Dolphins pulled out a 57-56 win over the host Warriors in what was a wild finish at the Kecoughtan Holiday Classic on Friday night.
The victory brings Cape Henry's record to 10-1 overall. Kecoughtan, which had won six in a row after losing to Oak Hill in early December, drops to 7-2 overall. It was yet another close triumph for Cape Henry, which is nothing new to them, coming one night after a double-overtime battle against Flora MacDonald.
"The guys have been through this and we scheduled a pretty tough schedule, been in a lot of fights up in D.C. Nobody was going to get flustered," declared Cape Henry second-year Head Basketball Coach Mark Hall.
"There was some sloppiness on both sides and usually we have more points in the first half. Some shots didn't fall, but it turned into a defensive battle. Basketball is like a roller coaster. There are some ups and some downs, but I like my chances with the ball in a close game, and we've been fortunate enough to come away with some wins."
Trailing Cape Henry by a point at the half, 25-24, Kecoughtan caught fire to close the third quarter. Cape Henry was in front 40-34 when the Warriors scored eight straight points to end the period, capped by a three-pointer from swingman and East Carolina signee Greg Alexander.
Senior forward and Providence signee Rajay Bullock, the game's leading scorer with 19 points for Kecoughtan, helped push that lead up further with a bucket to start the fourth quarter, and that was followed by a couple of field goals from sophomore guard Marcell Haskett. In fact, Kecoughtan was up 54-47 with 4:15 to play following Alexander's there-pointer.
Perhaps one of the memorable moments during the stretch came in the closing seconds of the third quarter. Cape Henry standout guard Devon Hall and Kecoughtan Head Basketball Coach Ivan Thomas were seen jawing back-and-forth in for a couple of minutes following a technical called on the Dolphins' bench.
"Yeah, it fired me up," Hall admitted. "He was one of my AAU coaches. But it was all talking in the heat of the game. Getting a win like this helps us a lot."
In the end, it was Hall who got the last word. Hall would get a tap-back with 2:12 to play to cut the Kecoughtan lead to just three, and they got closer when Chris Clarke nailed a pair of free-throws. The Warriors would then turn the ball over to give Cape Henry a shot at grabbing the lead.
Cape Henry would get the go-ahead basket they needed with 11 seconds remaining when Hall drove in the lane and laid it in for two.
"I just try to get in the lane regardless of the situation," said the future UVA guard who had seven assists to go with his 10 points. "They were pressing real hard, and if I can beat my man and get him on my hip and another guy draws, I'm looking to drop it off for a lay-up each time. We kept doing it, and we messed up a few times, but in the end we won the game."
On the night, Cape Henry got balanced scoring with six players scoring at least six points. To go with Hall and Clarke's double-figure points, Terry Morris and Andrew Langston each gave the Dolphins a lift off the bench, combining for 15, and in the case of Morris, several important hustle plays.
The difference in Cape Henry's eyes was their defensive play and attention to detail down the stretch, limiting a high-octane Warriors team to just two points over the final four minutes and change.
"I asked Devon to guard Rajay, and if Rajay puts the ball on the ground, Devon's a better defender on him and he has size," Coach Hall pointed out.
Bullock, who scored 39 points in a game recently and leads the Peninsula District in scoring, was effective offensively, but had just four points in the game's final quarter with Hall being the primary defender on the future Big East player.
"I was going to stay under him," Devon added. "He and Greg are their best players and our key and plan was to try to stop them two."
Both teams will be in action in a showcase again coming up on Saturday, January 5th at Virginia Wesleyan College as part of the Fifth Annual VirginiaPreps.com Basketball Classic Presented by Cox 11 Sports. Cape Henry takes on Miller School at 4:30 PM, while Kecoughtan plays L.C. Bird at 7:30 PM.
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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