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March 8, 2013
11:59 PM: The 2013 VHSL Group AAA State Basketball Tournament is over. Next year, it'll be a new postseason format as several new playoff rivalries will be born, some renewed and conference realignment makes the move from the college ranks to the High School Sports arenas around the state of Virginia.
Congrats to the Henrico Warriors and Lake Taylor Titans on leaving their mark on High School Hoops history in the Commonwealth. Those two programs will forever be Champions and the trophy they captured on Friday night can never be taken away.
Girls State Championship Final - - Lake Taylor 56, Princess Anne 53
One game was close, the other wasn't. It was Lake Taylor's second title in four years, while Henrico won its first ever. The Central Region claims home to the State Championship in Boys Basketball for the first time since 2007, whereas an Eastern Region school has now won a state title in Girls Basketball for the ninth time in 13 years.
There will be some Group AA and Group A State Championships to be played out on Saturday at the VCU Siegel Center in Richmond. To best keep up with those, you'll want to find the game on a TV screen near you (I know the affiliate in Hampton Roads is Cox 11) and keep track of the action on Twitter (follow me at HatfieldSports).
Be sure to tune in to High School Sports Talk presented by VirginiaPreps.com on ESPN Radio 94.1 from 10 AM to Noon on Saturday morning as we'll be talking with Henrico Head Basketball Coach Vance Harmon around 11:25 AM and we'll have Lake Taylor's Saundra Sawyer and a couple of her standout players in studio on the show on March 16.
More Coverage in the days and weeks to come so be sure to check back periodically on VirginiaPreps.com, your home for Hoops in the state of VA!
11:00 PM: Well, we've got some excited Henrico Warriors, who are hugging fans, friends, family and more, even a few running in the hallway (one nearly knocked me over), but they have good reason to be excited as they capped a marvelous season by capturing the program's first ever state title in basketball, doing so in the final year of the Group AAA State Tournament as we know it before the new classification system goes into effect for 2013-14.
Let's go over the numbers from Henrico's victory over John Marshall in the AAA title game.
Warriors 72: (30-2 Overall)
Marshall Justices: 48 (26-6 Overall)
Well, we got the 72 points part right in our prediction of Henrico winning, but they didn't win by 12 and rather got the nod by 24 in one of the most lopsided State Championship results in a while. Who could've predicted that a freshman would lead Henrico in scoring in a state title win? Not to mention, Buckingham drew four charges and was superb on the defensive end, as was the entire team to hold John Marshall 18 points below what they had scored in each of the last two games.
The Warriors were in full command from start to finish, never trailing, and remarkably, prevailing without any fast-break points according to the stats. They shot extremely well from deep for the second game in a row (hit 7 3's vs. Woodson and 8 in this one), turned John Marshall over frequently, had nearly a 2-to-1 ratio in free-throws and finished +9 on the boards.
Going 3-for-24 from deep clearly isn't going to get the job done for John Marshall. Aaron McCrae was scoreless and he was an x-factor type for the Justices lately, finishing with nine points just four days earlier against Wakefield in the State Semis. Above all else, the main two starts for JM in White and Dean-McBride were held in check to 23 points total with six fouls and eight turnovers.
Coming into the matchup, one of the Keys to Victory for Henrico was 5 to outperform 2, meaning they needed their starting five to be at least +10 on John Marshall's main two scorers. Well, White and Dean-McBride had almost 50% of its team's points, but the Warriors put four starters in double-figures with those guys getting to the foul line 28 times compared to just 14 attempts for JM's two standouts.
10:48 PM: It is now in the books and the Henrico Warriors are the 2013 VHSL Group AAA State Tournament Champions in Boys Basketball, reaching the pinnacle after falling short in the 2012 tourney to Hampton in the State Semis. They overwhelmed John Marshall, which closes out a terrific year at 26-6 overall, in the first ever All-Central Region Final.
2013 BOYS BASKETBALL AAA STATE
CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL SCORE:
Henrico's season finishes at 30-2 overall. For Vance Harmon and his team, it's the first ever state title in basketball in the school's history.
We'll have more Final Numbers and a wrap-up to come!
10:37 PM: Everyone has settled down a good deal and Henrico continues to pour it on against John Marshall, leading 70-46 with 3:22 to go in the game. Let's note though that Henrico has played much of this period with two reserves, Ryan Pearson and R.J. Moses, on the court, so it's not like they have been 'running it up' against the Justices.
Both teams are in the double bonus, which means we'll be having some players fouling out and some subs that don't normally see the floor likely playing in the final couple of minutes. For seniors that aren't used to seeing the court much, it's their golden time to shin though.
But the story of the night has been how this Henrico team has transformed into a squad capable of beating opponents in a variety of ways - - playing fast, in the half-court, doing it with defense, shooting 3's or attacking the cup at will. Marvin Smith Jr. has really given them a lift with his rebounding and scoring, both close to and away from the basket. And the bench is better than some teams' starting five.
10:28 PM: Emotions are running high here at the Siegel Center as a couple of players for Henrico and John Marshall were pushing and shoving with some Technical Fouls being assessed on both squads I imagine. That's what happens when the score becomes lopsided and you have two rivals squaring off, and frustration boiling over.
Freshman De'Monte Buckingham of Henrico and senior Tristian Waller from John Marshall have been ejected. Buckingham played a wonderful game up until that point with 18 points, the high scorer in the ballgame. He's a ninth grader who'll learn better as he matures. Waller, meanwhile, hadn't been in the game and got disqualified from what we were told on press row for leaving the bench area and coming onto the court.
Another player or two might've received Technical Fouls, but not totally sure. Nonetheless, Henrico is in the lead at 66-43 with 4:45 remaining in what could be the biggest blowout in a State Championship game since Highland Springs defeated GW-Danville 79-52 in the 2007 AAA Final.
10:23 PM: It's been all Henrico from the very start as they bolted to a 9-1 lead and never looked back as they've been up by double-figures much of the evening. A Technical Foul has been called on John Marshall and after Jordon Talley connects on some free-throws, it's his senior backcourt running mate Timmy Jones scoring at the rim.
Unfortunately for John Marshall, a mighty fine season and their first trip to the state title game in 20 years is going to come to an end in disappointing fashion. They've taken some significant steps under Coach Ty White, but tonight they've just been out-classed by a savvier, better basketball team in Henrico, which is looking to up its record to 4-1 versus the Justices since the 2011-12 campaign.
10:15 PM: Oh my goodness, what a final offensive possession to close the third quarter for the Central Region Champion (and soon to be State Champion) Henrico Warriors. Sophomore Ryan Pearson, who not attempted a shot all night, threw up a prayer from just inside half-court and three-pointer went nothing but net.
It's just Henrico's night, and this evening is the culmination of all the hard work and extra hours of preparation they have put in to get to this point.
End 3rdQ - - Henrico 56, John Marshall 34
The most telling statistic to me is the fact that the Warriors have missed eight free-throws and lead by 22, largely because of how well they have spread out their scoring with five guys scoring eight points or more. Not to mention, they've got an 18-3 edge in points off turnovers. Henrico is doing to John Marshall what they did to L.C. Bird in the Central Region Tournament semifinals.
10:09 PM: John Marshall hasn't thrown in the towel just yet (although, it's getting closer to that happening). The Justices have trimmed that lead of 24 down to 18 at 50-32 as Jay Broaddus, a sophomore with promise who has gotten better as the season has gone on, is now in double-figures with 12 points for the Justices.
However, an intentional foul called on John Marshall with just under a minute to go in the third quarter is not going to help their cause of moving closer. That gets the Henrico lead back up to 21 at 53-32 and the Justices have nine team fouls, which means the Warriors will be shooting in the double bonus basically the entire fourth quarter.
John Marshall has been much better offensively in the third quarter, but as mentioned earlier, you can't win unless you get it done on the defensive end of the court and they've given up 25 points so far in this third quarter with the last offensive possession going to Henrico.
10:05 PM: Look up at the scoreboard here at the Verizon Wireless Arena at the Stuart C. Siegel Center on the campus of VCU and you'll see Henrico is leading John Marshall 47-26 with 1:50 to go in the third quarter. But take a careful view of it and you'll notice something deeper and that's that all five players on the floor for Henrico - - De'Monte Buckingham (18Pts.), R.J. Moses (8Pts.), Marvin Smith Jr. (8Pts.), Timmy Jones (7Pts.) and Jordon Talley (7Pts.) - - have seven points or more.
On the John Marshall side of things, nobody has reached in double-figures, and that's concerning since both Brian White and Gee Dean-McBride both came in averaging over 20PPG in the State Tournament.
Not to disrespect or discredit the season John Marshall has had, but you really get the feeling that the State Championship game for Henrico came in the quarterfinals when they rallied from nine down with 3:45 to go to defeat a Kecoughtan team with a pair of D-1 talents on the floor. That might've been their toughest challenge, given Kecoughtan's length, size and all-around talent.
Not to be forgotten is Doug Craig's W.T. Woodson team as the Northern Region Champions, a just a pinch short on athleticism and quickness, came out with a great game-plan and pushed Henrico for three-plus quarters before running out of gas and failing to hit enough shots to advance.
9:59 PM: There are just so many good parts for Henrico working all in sync as one, making them the type of team you need to be to win a State Championship. Unselfish play on the offensive end of the court, hustle on defense and not getting beat for the 50/50 balls to allow the opponent to go on a big run.
With 2:07 to go in the third quarter, Henrico has more than doubled up John Marshall 47-23, simply cruising to this point and they've kept John Marshall from getting to the foul line a ton, which they did so well in the State Quarters vs. Great Bridge and State Semis against Wakefield. Freshman De'Monte Buckingham has been nothing short of tremendous for the Warriors, putting up better production than either of the Justices' two stars.
I like how Tim Jones is helping instruct the freshman Buckingham on the floor; he along with their other senior leaders in Marvin Smith Jr. and Jordon Talley haven't had incredibly strong games to this point, but play with a great understanding of what needs to be done on the floor at all times, keeping their cool in the process.
9:54 PM: I never lie to our loyal readers here on VirginiaPreps.com and am not going to with 5:40 to go in this third quarter as this one looks to be over as Henrico has increased its lead to 21 points on John Marshall. The Warriors are up 38-17 on the Justices, who have yet to really doing anything effective offensively in the half-court or in transition against this Henrico defense.
Arguably the best player on the floor continues to be the freshman De'Monte Buckingham for Henrico as he's not only scoring points at will with a game-high 14 so far, but giving every ounce of energy he has on the defensive end of the floor, even checking John Marshall star Brian White on a few possessions. Senior Stephen Booker can't be forgotten about either as he's keeping White in check on several trips down the floor, too.
White hits a three-pointer for the Justices to cut the deficit down to 18, but back comes Henrico with a trey from senior guard Jordon Talley, one of the main components to their success over the past few seasons.
9:48 PM: Here are the numbers at the break as the Henrico Warriors lead the John Marshall Justices in the All-Central Region State Championship game at VCU.
Stats at the Half:
Henrico has done a great job of spreading the wealth on offense and their two leading scorers are a freshman and a reserve, which really speaks volumes, to how unselfish the guys in this program are as the three senior leaders don't care how many shots they put up. That's what has made them so unique throughout the season.
All Coach Harmon has to tell his players in the locker room is to keep their composure, poise and they will be State Champs around 11 o'clock or so this evening. It would take Henrico playing close to its worst and John Marshall having to play close its best for a stunning comeback to occur.
For John Marshall, they have to scrap everything that they are doing on both ends of the court so far. I know that sounds a little on the outrageous side, but it's not working and they have to get it together with a fast, decisive start to the third quarter, which begins with taking better shots, making three or four passes before pulling the trigger, being fundamentally sound and out-hustling the Warriors for loose balls. It's about playing with passion.
9:44 PM: We have reached half-time and the Henrico Warriors are smelling their first ever state title in basketball, leading the north-side rival, the John Marshall Justices, by double-figures in front of a packed to capacity crowd at the VCU Siegel Center in Richmond.
The Warriors can even afford a lapse of say two or three minutes of subpar basketball and still walk out of here victories as State Champs at 30-2 overall. A John Marshall comeback might take the Justices playing their best basketball of the season over the next 16 minutes.
AAA State Championship at the Half - - Henrico 28, John Marshall 15
We'll have some stats coming soon!
9:40 PM: The triangle-and-two defense that Vance Harmon's Henrico Warriors has done a great job of frustrating John Marshall's two main offensive studs, Brian White and Gee Dean-McBride. Those two have combined for only seven points in the first half and can't get in a rhythm whatsoever after carrying the Justices to State Tournament victories over the likes of Great Bridge and Wakefield in the last two rounds.
Henrico gets a great block in transition after a turnover by freshman De'Monte Buckingham and let me tell you folks, the ninth grader is a name to watch out for in the Class of 2016 because he's pretty well put together already and has hops as well. They also drew a charge to prevent a John Marshall basket, and then it's Mr. Improved, senior forward Marvin Smith Jr. with a basket at the 1:10 mark to give Henrico a 13-point advantage, matching its largest of the game,
Unless John Marshall finds a way to combat this triangle-and-two and starts to play under control more in the second half, they are looking at a deficit that will only grow.
9:33 PM: Every time Henrico is on the verge of breaking this thing open increasing its lead to 15-plus, they either make a mistake with a long three-pointer that's off the mark or a turnover and John Marshall keeps them from putting this somewhat out of reach before half-time.
John Marshall is making a few key plays defensively with Jay Broaddus grabbing a steal and limiting Henrico to one shot on a few possessions, but they can't quit mount a run to pull any closer than eight down. One positive is that Brian White might've got his offensive game going with a couple of free-throws at the 3:17 mark to cut the Henrico lead to 23-15.
Timmy Jones, senior guard and All-Central Region First Team selection for Henrico, drills a three-pointer and the Warriors are comfortably in front at 26-15. John Marshall's shot selection has been rather poor thus far and that must change or else Henrico is eventually going to go on a surge that puts this one out of reach.
9:26 PM: Let us point out that this place is absolutely jam-packed. I'm talking, there might not be an empty seat one can spot in the Siegel Center as some people have to stand along the railings up top it's that crowded here. That's what happens when you get two Central Region teams separated by a mile from each other together playing for a State Championship.
To begin the second quarter, Henrico picks up where it left off with freshman De'Monte Buckingham draining a three-pointer. The Warriors are getting great spacing and John Marshall has yet to disrupt their timing and looks from outside.
Brian White, signed to play his College Hoops at The Citadel, has been fairly quiet to this point, but a blocked shot might get him going as the Justices are down 11, though can't draw any closer on a missed three-pointer. Stephen Booker pushes the lead back up to 11 after a John Marshall basket as it's 22-11 nearing six minutes to go in the second period.
9:20 PM: Henrico hasn't let up at all and the best way to describe their start is relentless. They've come out with passion and they are getting quite a lift off the pine courtesy of senior sub R.J. Moses; the Clover Hill transfer has seven points to lead all scorers. Who had that pegged coming into this one?
End 1stQ - - Henrico 17, John Marshall 9
Henrico is off to an outstanding start shooting the ball at 7-of-16 from the field and 3-for-7 from beyond the arc. John Marshall has not matched them with Brian White held two just two points and Gee Dean-McBride with only a free-throw to this point. The Justices are in danger of getting blown out if they don't get some stops and play a smarter, more disciplined brand of basketball on the offensive end.
9:10 PM: It has been a very focused and determined start for Vance Harmon's Henrico Warriors, trying to add State Championship to their Central Region title from earlier in the season.
Henrico jumped put to a 9-1 lead less than five minutes to play on John Marshall in what has been a semi-defensive battle in the early going. R.J. Moses comes in off the bench and sparks the Warriors with a three-pointer to push that advantage to 12-3 with 1:35 to go in the first quarter.
Somewhat ineffective in the half-court thus far, John Marshall gets a three-pointer from sophomore guard Jay Broaddus and the up-tempo action is waking them up some offensively. It's now raining 3's at the Siegel Center as freshman De'Monte Buckingham gets in on the act for Henrico with a trey, followed by sophomore Nate Williams showing the touch as the 6-foot-7 forward nails one from long distance.
9:05 PM: We are just about to get underway in the VHSL Group AAA Boys Basketball State Championship between the Henrico Warriors (29-2) and John Marshall Justices (26-5). This is the fifth meeting between these two schools and Henrico has won three of the past four, including both times this season. Can the third time this year be the charm for John Marshall? Let's find out - - strap in and enjoy a good one as we've got a sellout crowd on hand from the Siegel Center.
8:40 PM: It's in the books and the Lake Taylor Titans edged the Princess Anne Lady Cavaliers in the 2013 VHSL Group AAA Girls Basketball State Championship in what was a well-played matchup from two Eastern Region powers that was competitive throughout.
Here are the Final Stats from this one . . .
Taylor Lady Titans 56: (28-1 Overall)
Anne Lady Cavaliers 53: (30-2 Overall)
8:35 PM: Out of the time-out, Princess Anne goes for a game-tying three-pointer in the corner with junior guard Justyce Swango firing up a pretty good look, but it doesn't fall through. Lake Taylor gets the rebound and they break into jubilation and celebration, claiming their second State Championship in Girls Basketball in four years.
It also means Coach Saundra Sawyer wins a state title in the same calendar year as her husband Hank Sawyer's football team.
2013 GIRLS BASKETBALL AAA STATE
CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL SCORE:
We'll be back with Final Stats and more reaction, plus tip-off set for approximately 9:00 PM in the Boys AAA State Championship between Henrico (29-2) and John Marshall (26-5) in a highly anticipated All-Central Region Final.
8:30 PM: A beautifully executed play out of the time-out by Princess Anne as star guard Morgan Cooper, playing this one with four personal fouls, drives to the rack and scores. That cuts the Lake Taylor lead to 54-53 with under 44 seconds to play in this one.
Lake Taylor star Feyonda Fitzgerald then scores two at the free-throw line to give her 33 points and 96 points for the tournament, setting a new VHSL State Tournament record. That also pushes the Lady Titans' lead to three. On the next trip down for Lake Taylor on offense, it's Fitzgerald misfiring and that gives Princess Anne one more chance to tie it up on a three-pointer and force overtime.
Coach Darnell Dozier calls a time-out with 9.9 seconds to go and he'll probably look for their top perimeter shooter, Justyce Swango, in the corner or running off a screen.
8:26 PM: Boy, the action sure is HEATING UP in this Girls AAA Basketball State Championship. With 1:41 remaining, it's Feyonda Fitzgerald, needing just two points to break the State Tournament scoring record, dishing it to Endia McKinney for the deuce to put Lake Taylor up 54-49. Princess Anne answers back behind senior captain Morgan Cooper showing an awful lot of heart and fight inside for the bucket.
Unless Lake Taylor succumbs to the defensive pressure, which I doubt they will since they apply so much and are used to that fierce style, they will just have to hit free-throws to salt this away. They miss one with 51.6 seconds to go and that gives Coach Darnell Dozier to draw something up with his team trailing by only three.
8:23 PM: It took a while, but the Lady Cavs of Princess Anne finally have good 'ol Mo on its side. That's momentum as they got a great lift from junior guard Justyce Swango on a three-pointer make with 2:28 left to play to cut the Lake Taylor lead to 50-49.
The Lady Titans have wasted a few possessions here in the fourth quarter with a lead that hovered around 5-6 points, and missed a couple free-throws that might end up being costly. They do have the star player of the tournament on its side in guard Feyonda Fitzgerald; the Temple-bound player has 29 points tonight and needs just four more to raise her tourney amount to 96, which would break the State Tournament mark of 95 held by West Springfield's Kara Lawson in 1999.
Lawson went on to play her College Basketball at Tennessee. Fitzgerald heads to the foul line with 2:24 left to go and her team up a point. She makes two and that extends the Lake Taylor lead to 52-49.
8:17 PM: Once again, Princess Anne can't quite seize the chance to get closer against Lake Taylor here in this fourth quarter as they unable to score down four and then it's Feyonda Fitzgerald for Lake Taylor sinking a pair at the foul line to push the Lady Titans' lead to 50-44 with 3:45 to play.
Coach Saundra Sawyer calls a time-out and kudos to her and the coaching staff for doing a much better job of defending without fouling in the third quarter and first couple minutes of the fourth quarter so that Princess Anne doesn't get freebies at the foul line.
A couple of foul shots for PA cuts the Lake Taylor lead down to 50-46, and in crunch time, it'll be about who can step up for the Lady Cavs on offense and being able to get the ball out of the hands of Fitzgerald, who is beating defenders off the dribble with relative ease.
8:12 PM: To start the fourth quarter, you can tell the intensity here at the Siegel Center has risen for a myriad of reasons. One, a State Championship is on the line and these two teams entered the fourth quarter separated by only one possession. Lake Taylor is trying to win its second state title in a span of four seasons, while Princess Anne is on the Drive for Five, their fifth crown in seven title game appearances.
Janyla White scores inside for Princess Anne with 6:18 to go to cut the Lake Taylor lead down to 44-41. Back comes Lake Taylor behind its standout in Feyonda Fitzgerald, who scores on a put-back to increase the Lady Titans' lead to 48-42.
Princess Anne is not taking advantage of its opportunities as they are whistled for a travel, miss a lay-up and can't quite put pressure on Lake Taylor to where they might be able to crack. That youth with six freshmen and two sophomores is starting to show against a team with quite possibly the best guard in the state in Fitzgerald.
8:07 PM: Through three quarters of play, Lake Taylor is on top of Princess Anne and trying to do the unthinkable, which is beat the Lady Cavs twice in a four-year span in the Girls Basketball AAA State Championship.
Feyonda Fitzgerald is carrying Lake Taylor in this one with 25 points, including a three-pointer and tough shot inside the arc. Princess Anne was able to tie the score for a brief moment with 1:27 to go in the third quarter on Danyael Goodhope's basket; Goodhope is the younger sister of ODU's Galaisha Goodhope. But they can't stop Fitzgerald right now as he's on a mission it looks like.
End 3rdQ in Girls AAA State Championship - - Lake Taylor 42, Princess Anne 39
8:03 PM: Interesting wrinkle as it appears Lake Taylor, which usually uses a 1-3-1 zone on defense, has dropped into a 2-1-2 matchup zone that is similar to a 2-3 zone. It is doing a rather solid job of forcing Princess Anne into some long, occasionally ill-advised shots.
But with game on the verge of getting away from PA as they trail 37-32 after Endia McKinney's basket and Jordan Mitchell-Harmel draws a charge (something she seems to do at least once per game), Princess Anne gets a pivotal three-point swish from junior guard Justyce Swango.
Princess Anne needed that in the worst of ways and now they have to hold that three-point shooting of Lake Taylor in heck to get to the fourth quarter with a chance to pull it out. Morgan Cooper has there fouls and that has hurt the Lady Cavs some on both ends of the floor.
7:56 PM: Out of that time-out Coach Dozier called, Princess Anne has responded nicely with senior and captain Morgan Cooper, who was a role player on that title winning team just a couple years ago, scores three straight points. PA applies the press at the right time to force a turnover, and then Janayla White scores inside to give the Lady Cavs the lead back.
White breaks on a pass and gets a steal and right now PA has done what they've needed to do offensively to get back in this thing. Endia McKinney strikes with a three-pointer in the corner and those perimeter shots can do wonders for Lake Taylor to halt a PA run. The Lady Titans are back on top 32-30 with just under five minutes to go in the second quarter.
7:50 PM: To begin the second half, Lake Taylor gets off to a much better start than they did in the game's opening period when Princess Anne built a nine-point lead. The Lady Titans have a very decisive look about them right now offensively as Courtney White bangs home a three-pointer and then it's Feyonda Fitzgerald adding to her constantly growing point total.
Princess Anne Lady Head Coach Darnell Dozier has seen enough, calling a time-out at the 6:45 mark with his team trailing 29-25. Dozier is so upset that a vein or two might've popped in his neck (hard to tell if that's true, but not ruling it out).
7:44 PM: It's been a really exciting battle so far in the Girls AAA Basketball State Championship at the Siegel Center. We've got 16 more minutes to play, unless we get overtime and then have to go four extra minutes to decide a victor.
Let's take a closer look at the statistics in this one.
Stats at the Half:
Princess Anne's defense has come up with eight steals and the likes of Swango, Cooper and freshman Gadiva Hubbard all have multiple steals. Another 12 turnover first half will spell doom for Lake Taylor. But if the Lady Titans can keep Princess Anne off the foul line, where they made 10-of-13, I feel their chances of pulling this out aren't too shabby.
PA is going to need more offensive production from Cooper and Hubbard to win this because six points between those two main weapons won't likely be enough. Meanwhile, Lake Taylor has to find a #2 option they can count on consistently to complement Fitzgerald, who has been the best player on the floor, maybe by far, too. McKinney and Mitchell-Harmel are going to need to be in position to catch those dump-off passes and finish when Fitzgerald penetrates.
Like we hope a game would between these two programs would, I figure this goes right down to the wire.
7:40 PM: At the break, it's been as good as advertised between these two Eastern Region powers. It has been a physical, yet clean game with each team being called for eight fouls, bodies hitting the floor for the loose balls and both teams competing extremely well like you would anticipate Hey, it's the State Championship and you expect nothing less.
Through 16 minutes of play, it's Princess Anne on top, but only by a whisker.
Girls AAA State Championship at the Half - - Princess Anne 25, Lake Taylor 24
We'll have some half-time numbers in just a few minutes, so stay with us!
7:34 PM: Missed opportunities on the fast-break are plaguing Lake Taylor and preventing them from overtaking Princess Anne for the lead. The Lady Cavs have gone into a rather cold shooting spell in this second quarter, but the free-throw line has been mighty kind to them; they were a perfect 7-for-7 in the opening quarter there and they are keeping that pace up in this second period.
Kyara Cooper however does tie the score up at 22-all with 1:25 to go in the half as the sophomore delivers a giant three-pointer for Lake Taylor. Endia McKinney gives Lake Taylor a brief 24-23 lead on a basket inside, but then it's Briana Jackson, a junior reserve guard for Princess Anne, scoring to put the Lady Cavs back on top. Janayla White with a huge rejection for PA late in the first half and they will try to hold onto the lead before the buzzer sounds to end the half.
7:28 PM: To put it simply, Temple-bound guard Feyonda Fitzgerald is carrying Lake Taylor and trying to guide the Lady Titans to a second state title in four years, which may be enough to make her the logical choice for State Player of the Year.
Fitzgerald has 12 of Lake Taylor's 16 points as the Lady Titans have rallied back from nine down to knot the score at 16 with Princess Anne with 5:16 to go in the first half.
It hasn't been a matter of Lake Taylor has made some grand adjustment as they have taken a little bit better care of the basketball and made Princess Anne have to work to get shots off, and they are low-percentage looks. At the 4:30 mark of the second quarter, Princess Anne scores its first points of this second period off a steal and lay-up from junior guard Justyce Swango.
Princess Anne has to be careful not to let Lake Taylor carry this momentum into half-time and be trailing by multiple possessions. Their second period is very similar to the first quarters they had in the State Tournament semis against Stonewall Jackson and Eastern Region semis vs. Maury, both games they won. But Lake Taylor has a star and tenacious defense to make them pay for a long offensive drought.
7:22 PM: At the end of the first quarter, it's Princess Anne in the lead and inching closer to perhaps a fifth state title under longtime Head Coach Darnell Dozier
End 1stQ - - Princess Anne Girls 16, Lake Taylor 12
The stats show that Princess Anne didn't shoot that great, only 4-of-14, but they were a perfect 7-for-7 from the foul line and that wins ballgames, especially in a postseason setting. Lake Taylor has gotten eight points from its star Feyonda Fitzgerald, though she needs the supporting cast to step it up and they have to take better care of the ball with seven turnovers compared to just one assist through that first stanza.
7:17 PM: Princess Anne has come out the much looser team, whereas Lake Taylor looks a little tight here under the bright lights at the Siegel Center in front of this jam-packed crowd. The good news for Saundra Sawyer's Lady Titans of Lake Taylor is they have time to settle in and make this lead shrink for Princess Anne.
Lake Taylor just does that with senior Courtney White drilling a 3 followed by Feyonda Fitzgerald's steal that results in a lay-up. Justyce Swango has done a pretty decent job to this point for PA defending Fitzgerald, but Coach Darnell Dozier doesn't like a PA turnover at the other end and gets all over Swango.
Princess Anne's lead that was once nine is down to 16-12 with 21.5 seconds left in the opening quarter.
7:12 PM: Kind of like how they played in stretches in the State Tournament semifinals against Colonial Forge, Lake Taylor is being too sloppy with the basketball and those turnovers and missed opportunities, including a couple of lay-ups that normally fall not going in, is helping Princess Anne increase its lead.
Justyce Swango, a junior guard rated among the nation's top prospects in the Class of 2014, is off to maybe her best start in the postseason with five points in the opening quarter, including a three-pointer that has the Lady Cavs on the verge of grabbing a double-digit lead.
7:05 PM: With 5:38 to go in the opening quarter, Princess Anne has grabbed control with a 6-2 lead as their ball movement is very solid to start and defensively they aren't giving lake Taylor any easy looks or allowing penetration.
Feyonda Fitzgerald, the Temple-bound guard for Lake Taylor, was able to can a pull-up jumper for the Lady Titans, but Princess Anne came right back with junior center Janayla White scoring right around the foul line area off the glass. Those are the kind of shots that if they are falling for Princess Anne, they're awfully tough to beat.
6:55 PM: Good evening and welcome to the Verizon Wireless Arena at the VCU Siegel Center in Richmond for the VHSL Group AAA State Championships! It's the final ones before next year we go to a new classification system at the VHSL.
We have two terrific matchups with an All-Eastern Region Girls Final as Princess Anne battles Lake Taylor in a re-match from the 2010 State Championship, followed by an All-Central Region Boys Final with Henrico against John Marshall in the fifth meeting between the two schools over the past two seasons.
Tip-off is about 10 minutes away from the Girls AAA title game. The place in Richmond here is absolutely packed as tickets are sold-out. For those who are unable to be here tonight, tune on the television and follow along with us here on the Blog and on Twitter at ESPN Radio 94.1 for the Girls game and Hatfield Sports for the Boys game.
Let's go through today's slate and the Predictions . . .
Picks: (10-0 in State Playoffs)
Cool Links: * Indicates Premium Content
Preview of Henrico/John Marshall (Boys) *
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.