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January 16, 2013
Neighborhood rivalries don't get much better in the Eastern Region than Landstown and Green Run. The two schools are separated by 2.5 miles and have been known over the years to produce some thrilling finishes on the basketball court.
For whatever Tuesday night's matchup lacked in terms of excitement and crisp play, it made up for with dramatic moments and competitive spirit by both squads in the closing minutes as host Green Run rallied from seven points down with four minutes to play in regulation, forced overtime and held off the reigning Beach District Champion Eagles, 60-57.
It was Green Run's first overtime win at home since January of 2008.
"I love the atmosphere and how my guys stepped up, played hard D' and it came down to the wire, which is the way you love to watch a game," said Green Run Head Basketball Coach Kenneth Harris afterwards.
"I knew this year we had to be challenged. And for us to play hard, we have to be challenged. I told them this was a game where we needed to get hot and get going because we don't want to put ourselves in a hole and out of the race completely."
Green Run, which improved its record to 12-4 overall and 3-2 in league contests, got a heroic performance from junior guard Tyler Blount. Small in stature, Blount performed in a big-time way and did so in crunch time, scoring a game-high 28 points drained eight three-pointers. Ten of his points came in the fourth quarter or OT.
"We just had to stay patient," said Blount, sensing much of the offensive load would be on his shoulders with three teammates battling the flu. "We had to limit our turnovers and get them back to our game, which is what we had in the beginning. A lot of people were getting tired at the end, but we were able to grind this one out."
Blount's eight three-pointers matched a career-high he set as a freshman against Ocean Lakes. Unlike the last time he did it though, this one was much sweeter for him because it resulted in a Stallions victory.
"It's unbelievable he made eight 3's," Harris said of Blount, the second leading scorer in the district at 19.8 points per game. "This kid has been with me since he was a freshman, working hard every day in the gym on that jump shot. Even when guys are preparing for him, he's still finding a way to score."
Behind a pair of three-pointers in the game's first minute, Green Run jumped out immediately on Landstown in claiming a 10-0 lead.
Eagles Head Coach Dwight Robinson called his first time-out at the 6:47 mark of the opening period with his team already down double-figures on the road and appeared to be headed for a long night. However, his bunch would settle down not only to make it a game, but were in position to win. That came as no surprise to Green Run.
"I knew when we went up 10-0 that was just us coming out with intensity and that Landstown would come back and play with some heart because that's what they do. It's a Landstown/Green Run battle," remarked Harris, who's in his fifth season at the helm of the Stallions.
It was a sloppy first quarter with both teams committing seven turnovers. The second period didn't feature much more impressive offense, and the Stallions actually went a stretch of 7:32 in the first half scoring just two points. While Green Run went into an offensive funk following their fast start, Landstown couldn't quite capitalize before half-time, converting just three field goals out of 15 attempts.
Blount's fifth three-pointer at the 5:47 mark of the third quarter pushed Green Run's lead to 25-14. At that point, Landstown had as many turnovers as points. The Eagles chipped away at the deficit though behind the 1-2 punch inside of sophomore Darius Bolstad and senior Andre Stanley.
Bolstad and Stanley combined for 21 points. The 6-foot-8 Bolstad also swatted away four shots. Suddenly, the game was tied at 28 entering the fourth quarter when speedy point guard Jordan Roberson found Rod Nicholson for a bucket to cap a 14-3 run.
Landstown carried that momentum into the fourth quarter, and even when Green Run looked to make a run, the Eagles answered with Cameron Alston drilling a three-pointer with 1:58 remaining to push their advantage back up to five.
Down two with 16 seconds to play, Green Run turned to their money shooter Blount to bail them out and he did, giving the Stallions the lead before Landstown hit a foul shot to send it to overtime.
"It was a flare. I just waved my hand, Laybay (Lequan Thomas) looked my way and threw it to me. I thought I got fouled and they might call one, but they didn't call it and fortunately the shot went in," stated Blount, who gave Green Run the lead for good when he connected on a three-pointer 25 seconds into the extra session.
"Basically, it was about getting our confidence back. We can't play to other teams' tempo because we're better than that and have to put people away."
Each of Green Run's previous four losses on the year all were by six points or fewer. Breaking through with a nail-biting win should serve them well moving forward.
"In some of those close losses, it was tough because we had some minor mistakes that prevented us from winning and we know from here on out it's about closing out games and playing all four quarters," said Green Run junior wing Jamaal Matin, who came through defensively with five blocks and a pair of steals.
"On this team, defense creates offense and we just want to get out and run as much as possible. This was a real big win, especially being at home and the crowd got real rowdy. We needed this one."
Landstown drops a game behind district leads Kellam and Tallwood in the standings. The Eagles are 11-4 overall, 3-1 in league play.
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 info and updates. To contact Matthew, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, and don't forget to listen to High School Sports Talk every Saturday from 10AM to Noon on ESPN Radio 94.1 and watch him on the Cox 11 Sports Report
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