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February 15, 2013

Knights Shine, Reach Beach Final

Knights Topple Tallwood: Following Green Run's win over top-seeded Landstown in the opening game of the Beach District semifinals at Ocean Lakes High School, the #2 Kellam Knights met the #3 Tallwood Lions in Thursday night's second game to determine who would play the Stallions for the district tournament title.


Led by Old Dominion commit Ramone Snowden, who scored 19 points, the Knights notched a 51-42 victory using tenacious defense, Snowden's superior playmaking ability and toughness down the stretch.



Scoring Summary:

Tallwood 6 17 9 10 - 42
Kellam 10 11 12 18 - 51



Player of the Game: Kellam senior Ramone Snowden. Snowden led the way for the Knights scoring 19 points, pulling down 13 rebounds, dishing out 8 assists and notching 4 blocks. More impressively, the future Old Dominion Monarch, who had only three points at the half (with six rebounds and six assists) took over the contest in the third quarter scoring ten of his team's twelve before adding another six in the final period.


"Tallwood plays good defense and has done that all year," Snowden said. "They put different people on me and I try to look for my teammates as much as possible and attack myself when I get the chance."


Coach Norman Hassell liked what he saw from Snowden, particularly in crunch time with the game on the line.


"He really finds his teammates well. We've been talking to him about trying to take games over, but it's his free-throws that he's really been trying to focus and concentrate on," Hassell noted. "Tonight, he closed it out with some big free-throws."



Keys to Victory:


#1 - - Kellam's Active Zone Defense: The contest started well for the Knights whose defense had Tallwood twisted a bit early forcing the Lions to make five or six passes before taking a shot that was usually contested as Kellam opened up a 7-3 lead. Though the Lions cut the lead to one with a three-pointer, Kellam stretched the lead back out to four by the end of the first quarter.


On the offensive side of the ball, Snowden wasn't scoring much for the Knights but he was having a big impact on their productivity as his one bucket and four assists accounted for 10 of their first 14 points.


Tallwood answered the Kellam zone pressure with a little defensive heat of their own getting back-to-back turnovers and buckets with the quick hands and feet of Tallwood guard Darius Horton causing problems for the Knights' ball handlers. Combined with their seven offensive rebounds and six forced turnovers at this point, the Lions knotted the game at 14 late in the first half.


"Believe it or not, we practice rebounding out of it and there's just times where we fail to identify a target. We know we're taller and longer, we try to use our size advantage, but that's a scrappy group. They don't care if you're tall or long, they're going to fight you for rebounds," commented Hassell on the zone and Tallwood's crashing of the glass."


With both teams playing solid defense, the Lions carried a 23-21 lead into the halftime locker rooms.


Key Halftime Stats:


Tallwood:
Will Howard 8pts
Darius Howard 6 pts, 5 reb, 3 ast
Tommie Flournoy 3 pts, 1-10 shooting



Kellam:
William Shook 8 pts off bench
Tyler Vinsand 6 pts two 3's
Ramone Snowden 3 pts, 1-7 shooting, 6 reb, 6 ast


#2 - - Emphasis on the Inside Game: Coming out of the break, it was clear that Kellam was intent on pounding the ball into the teeth of the Lions defense with Snowden working hard in the paint. Trailing 30-28 in the third, the Knights got back-to-back scores as Snowden hit a bucket in the paint then got fouled on the next trip and converted the ensuing free throws to put Kellam up 32-30 with just over a minute to play in the half.

The teams traded a two for a three as the quarter ended with Kellam leading 33-32 as Snowden scored 10 of the Knights' 12 points in the period.


"We knew we had a size advantage with him (Snowden), so we tried to put him in the post and let him go to work, understanding with everybody around him that going to work means I'm going to look for you if I get collapsed on, and he's always a pass-first kind of guy."



#3 - - Composure Down the Stretch: The game changed physically in the fourth quarter as the intensity picked up with the outcome on the line. Kellam landed the first big punches as they used an 8-0 run to run out to a 41-32 lead with just under six minutes to play.


However, Tallwood answered with seven straight points to cut the deficit to two with 2:40 to play in the contest. Though the Knights responded with a bucket, the Lions answered back with a trey from Will Howard from the corner making it a 43-42 game with 1:47 to go.


Coming out of timeout, Kellam responded to the Tallwood pressure using some tic-tac-toe passing resulting in an open layup for Kobe Copeland to go up three then the Knights defense forced a missed shot and got a pair of free throws from Snowden to lead by five effectively salting the game away.



Wrap Up: A back-and-forth battle of a game that saw both teams make runs but essentially play neck-and-neck for most of the contest resulted in an exciting battle won by the team with the best athlete on the floor as Snowden did everything that his team needed him to do in order to win and advance.


Early in the game, he concentrated on rebounding and involving his teammates in the offensive flow, but in the second half, he shouldered the team's offensive load by banging inside then salting the contest away by making key throws from the charity stripe.


Heading into the Beach District championship game, the Knights have to feel pretty good about how they are playing as they battled hard all evening and took everything that Tallwood could throw at them. Kellam split their regular season games with Green Run so the title game has a shot at being another tremendous test for both teams before heading into the regional tournament.


"It's a very big game," Snowden said. "We want to stay in Virginia Beach for the first round of [regionals], so we need to get that W."


Tallwood will hit the road next as they will meet #1 Great Bridge in the opening round of the regional bracket where they will be an underdog but not one that will be physically overmatched. If they continue to play hard and get a few more shot to fall, the Lions will pose a very serious threat to Great Bridge's title hopes.



Postgame Audio with Kellam Coach Norman Hassell


Key Stats:


Kellam 51:

Ramone Snowden - - 19Pts. 6-14FG, 7-12FT, 13Reb. 8Ast. 4Blk.
William Shook - - 10Pts. (SH) 5-7FG, 4Reb. 2Ast.
Tyler Vinsand - - 8Pts. 2-4FG, 4Reb. 4Ast. 2Stl.
Kobe Copeland - - 8Pts. 4-4FG, 3Reb.


Tallwood 42:

Darius Horton - - 17Pts. 5-12FG, 5Reb. 3Ast. 3Stl.
Will Howard - - 11Pts. 3-5 3's, 6Reb. 3Blk.
Tyler Peterson - - 7Pts. 2-5FG, 3-5FT, 4Reb. 3Stl.
Tommie Flournoy - - 5Pts. 1-19FG, 2Ast.


Records:

Tallwood 14-10

Kellam 19-5

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