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December 13, 2012

Balanced Stallions Handle Norcom

Two of the top-ranked teams in the Eastern Region squared off in Virginia Beach on Wednesday night when the Green Run Stallions welcomed in the Norcom Greyhounds for an out-of-district showdown. A near packed to capacity crowd witnessed the host Stallions dominate from start to finish, using a 14-0 run in the first half to go up by double-figures and they would lead by no fewer than 11 points over the game's final three quarters.

Ranked #14 in the latest VirginiaPreps.com AAA State Top 25, Green Run rolled to an 82-62 romp over the Greyhounds, who checked in at #10 in the rankings. It was a much different game than last year's 96-89 overtime battle in Portsmouth, also won by the Stallions. With the victory, Green Run improves to 5-1 overall and further solidified the belief that they are a team to be reckoned with this season in Tidewater.

"We came together. We had two good practices Monday and Tuesday, went hard and felt ready for this one," said Green Run senior point guard Lequan Thomas, a pest that caused havoc all game long with 22 points, six rebounds, nine assists and four steals.

Thomas set the tone in the opening quarter with his quickness and defensive activity, handing out three assists and making three steals to disrupt Norcom's offensive rhythm right away.

"That's our motto for the whole year," Thomas said of how the Stallions defend. "If we play defense, we create for our offense. Whether it's a steal or causing a turnover that gives us an offensive possession."

Norcom misfired on 20 of their first 22 shots, and even with 19 offensive rebounds on the night, couldn't cash in on a handful of second chance opportunities. They also were kept off the free-throw line, not attempting a foul shot until 1:46 remaining in the second quarter. The Greyhounds shot just 5-of-24 from beyond the arc, including 3-for-17 going into the fourth period.

Entering the matchup, Norcom had been averaging 87.3 points per game and scored 109 the night before against Wilson.

"One of the keys was getting out on shooters," said Green Run Head Basketball Coach Kenneth Harris. "They had been shooting the ball well and I explained to the team they have a high-octane offense. We wanted to make them think a little bit instead of giving them open shots."

To go with the superb play of Thomas, the Stallions got great all-around play from junior wing Keon Buchanan, whose athleticism and aggressiveness gave Norcom problems. Buchanan hovered the cup the entire contest, finishing with 10 points, eight rebounds, five assists and four blocks to shake off a slow start where he missed four three-pointers in the opening quarter.

"It's just about proving it and showing everybody that you can play instead of hearing potential all the time," Harris noted. "It's about can you step up in big games? I thought he did. In the beginning, he was kind of rushing, but I thought he calmed down and made some big plays."

Buchanan was one of eight different players to score at least six points for the Stallions. In fact, Green Run saw eight players score in the first half as they led by 16 compared to only three scorers for Norcom through that stretch.

"We've got a lot of people that can score, so I do whatever I need to do to help us to win," Buchanan stated afterwards.

Tyler Blount added 11 points, while Shaun James chipped in eight points and eight rebounds, and Jamaal Matin scored six points, drilling the game's first three-pointer. That balance played largely throughout.

Green Run made it a priority to contain the Greyhounds' top scorer, senior guard and D-1 prospect Malique Trent (23.3PPG). While James Whitaker, another D-1 caliber player for Norcom, got loose for 22 points, the Stallions did the job defensively that they wanted on Trent, who was limited to just four points on 2-of-8 shooting before fouling out.

Trent was scoreless in the first half and didn't get his first field goal until 3:08 to go in the third quarter with Green Run ahead by 20.

"Our whole intention was to stop Malique because he's the whole nucleus to their team and they can't run without him," Thomas went on to say.

Three Green Run reserves - - Marquise Williams, Demetri Wilson and freshman Sterling Carrington - - ended up with more points than Trent. The Stallions' bench outscored Norcom's 25-3 on the evening. That comes as no surprise to some of the starters.

"In practice we play a lot of situations where we're down or close out the game, and our second team really comes after us," Thomas pointed out.

It might be the deepest rotation for Harris in his five seasons at Green Run, which is picked to capture its first Beach District title since 1988-89.

"I felt we had a bench, but we had to prove that as well," Harris commented. "We had only about four or five guys scoring and weren't getting scoring from anybody else. I've been challenging them all week about stepping up. I thought the bench played well. Sterling, Demetri and Marquise, they stepped up."

Green Run next hosts Kempsville (1-6) on Friday. Meanwhile, Norcom falls to 4-1 and visits undefeated Maury (6-0) on Friday.


Rod Johnson's Photo Feature on Facebook
Postgame Audio with Green Run Head Basketball Coach Kenneth Harris


Stats:

Green Run 82:
Lequan Thomas - - 22Pts. 8-9FG, 6-7FT, 6Reb. 9Ast. 4Stl.
Tyler Blount - - 11Pts. 3-9FG, 5-6FT, 3Reb. 2Ast. 2Stl.
Keon Buchanan - - 10Pts. 4-12FG, 2-6FT, 8Reb. 5Ast. 4Blk.
Marquise Williams - - 10Pts. 5-8FG, 5Reb.
Shaun James - - 8Pts. 4-5FG, 8Reb. 2Stl.

Norcom 62:
James Whitaker - - 22Pts. 9-18FG, 2-8 3's, 2-3FT, 6Reb.
Antonio Parker - - 15Pts. 6-14FG, 2-6 3's, 1-4FT, 6Reb.
Troy Locke - - 11Pts. 4-15FG, 3-4FT, 7Reb.
Malique Trent - - 4Pts. 2-8FG, 4Reb. 5Ast. 3Stl. (Fouled Out)

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 hatfieldsports2k4@yahoo.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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