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March 1, 2013
11:55 PM: Another splendid night of basketball is over as Old Dominion University's Ted Constant Convocation Center in Norfolk saw Princess Anne Girls and John Marshall Boys move on to Monday's State Final Four.
Below are some results from around the state at the AAA level in the quarterfinals tonight.
Girls Quarters Final - - Stonewall Jackson 55, South Lakes 53
We'll be back Tweeting updates tomorrow of Group AA D-4 Boys State Tournament quarterfinals action of Grafton vs. Millbrook - - be sure to follow those on Twitter @ hatfieldsports.
11:35 PM: It'll be two teams from the Central Region taking on two schools from the Northern Region in Monday's AAA Final Four at the VCU Siegel Center after John Marshall defeated the Eastern Region Champion Great Bridge Wildcats, 66-55 on Friday night at Old Dominion University's Ted Constant Convocation Center in Norfolk.
John Marshall moves to 3-0 against the Eastern Region this year, also having defeated Kellam and Green Run out of the Beach District. For the first time since 2008 when T.C. Williams cut down the nets, a school not from the Eastern Region will win the state title. The Justices will be making their 15th appearance in the State Final Four, sitting just two wins away from capturing the school's first state title in 59 years.
Below are the Final numbers and some audio clips to check out.
Marshall Justices 66: (25-5)
Bridge Wildcats 55: (25-4)
"We're not good individually, but together, collectively, we're something to deal with," said John Marshall Head Basketball Coach Ty White afterwards. He's totally right. White and McBride were simply phenomenal as a tandem, combining for 56 points and the foul shooting from them and others for JM was stupendous. John Marshall didn't need a bunch of 3's to fall their way because they were operating well in the paint and converted at the foul line.
Madison and Banks were not hitting the same shots they made earlier this postseason and that 4-of-19 from three-point land really hurt the Wildcats, as did the foul trouble to Bienlien and Evans. Williams had a strong night, but Great Bridge couldn't really take away the inside play of John Marshall, who was the more physical team all night long.
The John Marshall/Wakefield matchup is pretty interesting to me as it could be a high-scoring, up-and-down kind of game on Monday night. We'll have more on that in the Preview later!
10:58 PM: The John Marshall Justices are moving on to Monday's State Final Four at VCU against Wakefield after defeating the Eastern Region Champion Great Bridge Wildcats in the AAA State Tournament quarterfinals at ODU's Ted Constant Convocation Center.
John Marshall moves its record to 25-5 overall, while Great Bridge's year comes to a close at 25-4 overall.
For the first time since 2002, the Eastern Region will NOT have a Boys Basketball team in the AAA State Final Four. The only other time it happened was in 1994.
AAA BOYS QUARTERS FINAL SCORE - - JOHN MARSHALL 66, GREAT BRIDGE 55
More reaction to come later - - stay tuned!
10:54 PM: Only 11.8 seconds left and John Marshall is about to end what has been a marvelous season for the Great Bridge Wildcats. The Justices are seconds away from moving on to the State Tournament Semis for the first time since 2009 as they lead it 64-55, sinking clutch free-throws late in this one.
The combo of Brian White inside and fellow senior Gee Dean-McBridee, an aggressive guard looking to get to the rack when he sees the situations present themselves, have done the job in the crucial moments of this one.
A nice gesture by the Great Bridge fans as Steve Bienlien fouls out with 9.5 seconds to go and the fans give him a standing ovation.
White makes two more at the foul line to give the Justices' a 66-55 lead.
10:45 PM: John Marshall is trying to hold on and move to Monday's State Final Four at VCU to play Wakefield. They're ahead 57-50 with under two minutes to play. Steve Bienlien had a monster rejection a few plays earlier for Great Bridge to get the Wildcats' faithful on their feet.
Great Bridge can't simply buy a bucket from beyond the arc late in this one. John Marshall has been able to push the pace to where they like it and defensively they've not allowed Marcus Evans to take this game by the throat in the closing minutes.
With 1:15 to play, it's Brian White throwing down a jam after John Marshall breaks the press. That pushes the Justices' advantage to 59-52. It's looking more and more like two Central Region schools are moving on to the Final Four at VCU on Monday, where the Siegel Center should be rocking.
10:40 PM: Senior guard Gee Dean-McBride is making some 'step up' plays for John Marshall to complement their standout forward Brian White in this fourth quarter. Dean-McBride hits foul shots with 3:58 left to give the Justices their biggest lead of the night at 51-46. Great Bridge is in some serious trouble, but the Wildcats have shown great composure late games all year and never crack under pressure. They need stops above all else.
John Marshall gets two more free-throws from Dean-McBride, and then Mark Madison misses the front-end of a one-and-one opportunity at the foul line. Marcus Evans sinks two foul shots with 3:05 to go to cut the John Marshall lead to 53-50. White comes back with a bucket underneath and then Great Bridge misses a long range shot, followed by even worse, Evans' fourth foul.
If Great Bridge was in some serious trouble before, this is danger time now. Aaron McRae makes two at the foul line to push the JM lead to 57-50 nearing two minutes to play.
10:35 PM: With 5:57 to play in the game, Eastern Region Player of the Year Marcus Evans of Great Bridge makes a really difficult pull-up jumper at the top of the key to give the Wildcats a 46-45 advantage. John Marshall comes right back to their bread and butter, that's senior forward Brian White in the low block and he operates with great success.
White gives John Marshall a 49-46 advantage with 4:57 left in the game on a deuce. Quite honestly, White has been the Player of the Game for either side to this point, but still plenty of basketball to play to decide a victor and who faces Northern Region Champion Wakefield on Monday night in the State Final Four at VCU's Siegel Center.
10:29 PM: Before we go back to the fourth quarter action here at ODU's Ted Constant Convocation Center between Eastern Region Champion Great Bridge and Central Region runner-up John Marshall, let's tell you what happened up at Robinson Secondary School in Fairfax in the AAA State Tournament quarterfinals with Northern Region Champion W.T. Woodson and Northwest Region runner-up Battlefield.
Final in AAA Quarters at Robinson - - W.T. Woodson 65, Battlefield 52
Now back to the fourth quarter action here at ODU . . .
With 7:30 to go and the score deadlocked at 44-apiece, John Marshall Coach Ty White decides to go to the 'stall tactic.' Great Bridge waits about 15-20 seconds or so before going out to the ball and making John Marshall have to move. Things are looking a little on the dicey side for the Wildcats at the 6 minute mark as center Steve Bienlien picks up his fourth foul. The Wildcats sub him out, but it may not be for too long.
10:24 PM: A back-and-forth, seesaw third quarter sees Great Bridge go back in the lead at 43-42 with 59.8 seconds to go in the period on Marcus Evans' free-throws. Evans had a great stretch late in the first quarter, but other than that, has been relatively quiet in terms of shot attempts and scoring. That could change when the fourth quarter rolls around.
John Marshall will hold for the final shot of the third quarter and it's a good one with senior point guard Gee Dean-McBride scoring against contact in the lane. Dean-McBride really stepped up in the regional semifinals against Armstrong for the Justices to punch their ticket to the State Playoffs; they need him to be the reliable Robin to Brian White's Batman in this fourth quarter to win on the road.
End 3rdQ - - John Marshall 44, Great Bridge 43
10:20 PM: After losing that seven-point lead earlier in the third quarter, Great Bridge has bounced back by going back in front thanks to a three-pointer from somewhat unheralded senior Byron Williams with 4:14 to go in the period. The Wildcats lead of 38-37 might not be safe unless they find an answer for Brian White inside. Great Bridge has contained the John Marshall guards fairly well though, but inside is where the Justices are doing their damage.
With 2:20 to go in the third quarter, John Marshall leads Great Bridge, but it's only by one, 42-41. The Wildcats are right there as long as they get to the fourth quarter without Bienlien or Evans picking up that fourth foul. They have shown a great ability to close opponents out in the fourth quarter this year and really get better during the game's final eight minutes.
10:12 PM: To start the second half scoring Great Bridge, center Steve Bienlien returns to action and makes his presence felt with an amazing move inside for a deuce to extend the Wildcats' lead to seven at 35-28. John Marshall would respond with a 9-0 run, however, sparked by senior forward Brian White; The Citadel signee has been an absolute handful in the low block.
The bad news for Great Bridge is that Bienlien picks up his third foul on an and-one play by White, but the Wildcats elect to leave him in there. You know John Marshall will continue to pound the ball inside to White if they're smart and use that matchup to their advantage.
One thing that hurts Great Bridge in this second half is the fact that Coach Gary Obenour ever since that Technical Foul before the game (which we believe was a book error, but haven't confirmed), it means he cannot get up off the bench to give instructions to his players. That rule really handicaps a team greatly, and the Justices have found their mojo, trying to put two Central Region teams into Monday's Final Four if they can continue to get points in the painted area.
10:10 PM: Some quick numbers at the break as Great Bridge leads John Marshall by seven to start the second half.
Stats at the Half:
We apologize for the late numbers and less detailed stats than usual, but for some odd reason, the people behind the scenes here at ODU decided not to use STATVA (www.statva.com) for their numbers, which was a bad move. But anyhow, we'll find a way to manage.
10:01 PM: To close the half, Great Bridge extended its lead from four to seven on a gigantic three-pointer by junior guard Mark Madison with under a minute to go in the second quarter.
Wildcats Coach Gary Obenour has to be as happy as a little lark to lead by seven, despite seeing arguably their two most important players, Marcus Evans and Steve Bienlien, sit practically the whole second quarter in foul trouble. Byron Williams really steadied them and Madison's three-pointer might've been as big as the one he hit in the regional semis to break a tie vs. defending State Champ Hampton.
HALF - - Great Bridge 33, John Marshall 26
9:55 PM: Great Bridge senior Byron Williams, who Coach Gary Obenour called their "most improved player," is proving so with back-to-back three-point plays, one on an absolute pure jumper that forces John Marshall's Ty White to call a time-out.
After trailing by four at the end of the first quarter, Great Bridge now leads 29-22 on the Justices and Williams gets a steal with a chance to increase that lead even more. They miss a lay-up inside and the Wildcats have had several good looks around the basket not go their way or else they'd be up double-figures. We're really seeing the Great Bridge offense rise to the occasion so far and their coaching staff has to be thrilled with the efficiency to this point.
John Marshall has struggled to attack this zone defense Great Bridge has gone to in the second quarter, which looks like a 3-2 to me, but might be more of a 1-2-2 in the half-court when the ball is up top. Guys are staying in position, and fortunately for the Wildcats, they didn't let JM get into the bonus until the 4:16 mark after being called for six fouls in the opening quarter.
9:50 PM: A terrific start to the second quarter for Great Bridge as sophomore guard Aaron Ferguson, who transferred to the Wildcats from Deep Creek, drives to the basket for a deuce and is fouled. He convers the three-point play at the foul line.
Moments later, it's Mark Madison calling glass for a bucket. Byron Williams, a real secret weapon for this Great Bridge team even though he's kind of quietly their second leading scorer at 14PPG and a First Team All-Southeastern District performer, nails a corner jumper and the Wildcats are up 23-20 and back in control, despite foul trouble bothering them with Marcus Evans and Steve Bienlien on the bench.
John Marshall has to get the dribble drive going on offense here and find a way to feed the post or else they're in trouble.
9:45 PM: It was a strong flurry to close the first quarter for John Marshall as they get a three-pointer from sophomore reserve Taqqi Muhammad to take a four-point advantage into the second quarter.
End 1stQ - - John Marshall 18, Great Bridge 14
Without Bienlien on the court to protect the rim, Great Bridge may have to switch defenses and get out of the man-to-man because John Marshall will be shooting free-throws the rest of the half. The Justices have to remain persistent attacking the rim and not settle for some outside shots with this lead or else it'll be brief.
9:40 PM: John Marshall is doing a nice job of running and speeding up Great Bridge maybe a little more than they'd like. Granted, the Wildcats have played some fine transition squads this year and more than held their own, but they don't want this to be a track meet.
Brian White continues to do work in the paint for John Marshall with seven of their first 11 points and he's drawing fouls as well (believe Steve Bienlien has two fouls so far and that's why he's on the bench). Bette than that for Coach Ty White and the Justices is they've drawn seven fouls on Great Bridge in the opening period.
Kaleaf Salder has given Great Bridge some good minutes off the bench, including swatting away a shot. Keying the Wildcats' offensive attack has been junior guard and Eastern Region Player of the Year Marcus Evans making two tough shots, one from long range. Byron Williams delivers with a basket and the Wildcats are weathering the John Marshall storm in the early going.
A quick update on the other AAA State Tournament Quarters at Robinson Secondary School . . . W.T. Woodson leads Battlefield by seven with 1:25 remaining in the ballgame.
9:33 PM: Out of the gate, John Marshall is awarded two free-throws on a Technical Foul for some reason (guessing a book error before the game or something) and senior guard Aaron McRae sinks two at the foul line. The Justices have a 2-0 lead before we even tip - - can't say I ever recall seeing a team lead in a State Tournament game before a second elapsed in real action.
Great Bridge doesn't flinch one bit though as they score five straight points with the 6-foot-7 center Steve Bienlien, a senior that was tremendous during the Eastern Region Tournament, scoring inside and hearing a roar from the Wildcats' fans.
John Marshall comes back with power forward Brian White, signed to play his College Hoops at The Citadel, hits two free-throws to put the Justices back in the lead at 6-5 with 3:32 to go in the opening period in what has been a defensive struggle in the beginning stages of this game.
9:15 PM: We're just a few minutes away from tip-off between the Eastern Region Champion Great Bridge Wildcats (25-3) and Central Region runner-up John Marshall Justices (24-5).
Let's go over the Final Stats from Princess Anne's 50-41 triumph over L.C. Bird in the AAA State Tournament quarterfinals.
Anne Lady Cavaliers 50: (29-1 Overall)
Bird Lady Skyhawks 41:
Although Coach Dozier of PA won't be pleased with the 21 turnovers and not winning by double-figures like they were capable of doing, one can only marvel at how this Princess Anne team with so much youth (six freshmen and two sophomores) has won 29 of 30 games to this point. Woodside is the only team to beat them this year and they have a star headed to the ACC and the University of Miami in Adrienne Motley. They controlled the backboards once again, finishing +15 in that category.
L.C. Bird had a rough outside shooting night and Princess Anne's stifling defense can do that to teams, rushing some long distance shots. Cole is going to be a dynamite player in years to come; she's one of the best guards I've seen and she's only a sophomore. There wasn't another playmaker to disrupt what PA did defensively. I got a feeling we're going to see a Chapter II of Princess Anne vs. Lake Taylor in the AAA State Final a week from tonight.
8:58 PM: It's now over and the Princess Anne Lady Cavaliers move their record to 29-1 overall after defeating the L.C. Bird Lady Skyhawks, who see a terrific season come to an end at 21-7 overall.
GIRLS AAA QUARTERS FINAL SCORE - - PRINCESS ANNE 50, L.C. BIRD 41
We'll be back with some Final Stats and the Boys AAA Quarters matchup with John Marshall taking on Great Bridge - - stay tuned!
8:45 PM: Well, L.C. Bird's Lady Skyhawks aren't throwing in the towel just yet as Taja Cole drains a three-pointer to trim the Princess Anne lead to 44-35 with 2:23 remaining. Princess Anne does have an awful lot of youth on this team, so Coach Darnell Dozier knows that is a contributing factor to their lulls at time. They do have six freshmen and two sophomores on the roster. Among the freshmen, Gadiva Hubbard has a chance to be really special according to Dozier.
Bird has a chance to get closer after a steal from Shaniya McLaughlin. Quenswayla Story hits the offensive backboards twice, but they can't get a field goal inside to get within five after cutting the double-digit lead down to seven. Morgan Cooper scores at the other end, and as long as PA doesn't get sloppy at the foul line or have some lapses shooting free-throws, they're going to hang on for the victory.
8:33 PM: A great surge to end the third quarter by Princess Anne's Lady Cavaliers, showing why they are considered to be the elite Girls Basketball program in the state at the AAA level. They use their defense to create offense, something they have done over the years time after time.
Late in the quarter, Briana Jackson strikes on a three-pointer in the corner and is fouled. PA goes from leading by only seven to closing on an 8-0 run to claim a 15-point lead entering the fourth quarter. Bird is clearly shook up from it and a fine season for Coach Chevette Waller's team appears to be coming to an end.
8:20 PM: Credit L.C. Bird for hanging in there in this third quarter as the Central Region runner-up has played Princess Anne pretty much evenly. In fact, they have outscored them 8-6 so far after another basket by Taja Cole, who is going to be a good one. But Bird can't get any closer as they've missed several shots close within 10-15 feet, plus continue to fail to find the touch from outside.
You get the feeling that Princess Anne is only one scoring run away here from putting this thing out of reach, and with the way they rebound inside with Morgan Cooper, Janayla White and Alexis Platt, they will get a chance to get on a hot streak if Bird can't get things going from the perimeter.
Coach Darnell Dozier of PA, a man seeking his fifth state title at the helm of the Lady Cavs, leaves Platt in with four fouls with 4:47 left in the third quarter. Dozier has confidence though and his reserves are interchangeable with some of his starters.
8:08 PM: At the half, it's Princess Anne on top of L.C. Bird and in firm control of this one as they look to push their record to 29-1 overall.
We know who the winner here will be facing on Monday's State Semis at 7:00 PM. Northwest Region Champion Stonewall Jackson has defeated Northern Region runner-up South Lakes, 55-53. PA is pretty familiar with Stonewall Jackson, having routed them in the AAA title game 65-39 two years ago.
Some numbers at the break . . .
Stats at the Half:
Anne Lady Cavs 26:
Bird Lady Skyhawks 17:
Turnovers have not been either team's friend, but L.C. Bird has gotten absolutely no pints from the three-point line or from the foul line. Throw in no transition baskets and that means they are getting no easy, cheap, free points.
PA is continuing to assert itself inside as the more dominant team, and as long as that continues in the second half, they should keep a working 9-16 point mark, maybe even get it above that if they knock down three or four shots from long range.
8:01 PM: Although Princess Anne has seen Alexis Platt get a couple fouls as well as one on Janayla White and Morgan Cooper, who had a wonderful fast-break basket after getting a rebound, L.C. Bird can't quite inch closer in this one. The deficit continues to grow for the Lady Skyhawks, trailing Princess Anne 22-11 with 2:35 to go in the second quarter.
Princess Anne's depth is starting to wear Bird down, something that also happened for the Lady Skyhawks in their loss to Central Region Champion Highland Springs on Monday night.
Keep in mind that the winner of this game plays in Monday's State Final against the winner of Stonewall Jackson/South Lakes. In the other Final Four game on Monday in VHSL AAA Girls State Tournament basketball action, it'll be Eastern Region runner-up Lake Taylor against Northwest Region runner-up Colonial Forge.
7:55 PM: Guard Justyce Swango, rated among the Top 60 prospects in the nation by HoopGurlz for the Class of 2014, just nailed another DEEP three-pointer to push the Princess Anne lead to 17-9 early in the second quarter on Central Region runner-up L.C. Bird, which is going to need to send another defender at her or a second defender.
On the defensive end, PA is making things happen as well as senior forward Alexis Platt does her best Jordan Mitchell-Harmel impersonation from last night with Lake Taylor by drawing a charge. It was a great job there sacrificing her body with the defender driving to the hole.
L.C. Bird is struggling to get its offense going and won't get any closer in this one unless someone helps take the scoring load off the shoulders of the sophomore Cole.
7:48 PM: At the end of one quarter of play, Princess Anne pushes its lead up to five thanks to a three-pointer on the right wing from junior guard Justyce Swango. That was some terrific spacing to end the period by PA as they are starting to get their offense humming after a slow start.
Remember, PA scored only two points in the first quarter versus Maury in the regional semifinals and trailed before warming up in the second half and winning by double-figures.
7:39 PM: Out of the gate, Princess Anne is playing its trademark suffocating defense, forcing L.C. Bird into some low-percentage shot attempts from the field and grabbing rebound after rebound to get scoring opportunities at the other end.
Justyce Swango swipes the ball from a L.C. Bird ball-handler and then scores to make it 6-2 with 5:32 to go in the first quarter.
One player for the Lady Skyhawks that has caught my attention is sophomore point guard Taja Cole, who had 15 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists in the STATVA Girls Classic in a close loss to Maury. Cole has some very solid ball-handling skills for a sophomore is already rated #16 in the country for the Class of 2015.
7:30 PM: We're back, though I'm not sure we'll be better than ever. Nonetheless, we're Blogging LIVE from the Ted Constant Convocation Center at Old Dominion University in Norfolk for the VHSL Group AAA State Basketball Tournament quarterfinals, where the Eastern Region Champions face the Central Region runner-up.
First up, it's Princess Anne's Girls taking on L.C. Bird, followed by a Boys matchup with Great Bridge against John Marshall.
Below is the schedule with picks and some links to other basketball related content to check out on the site.
Also in action up at Robinson Secondary School tonight in Fairfax is Northern Region Champion W.T. Woodson (24-4) taking on Northwest Region runner-up Battlefield (19-9).
AAA Quarterfinals Preview of Great
Bridge/John Marshall *
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 email@example.com, 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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