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February 16, 2013

Kellam Wins Beach Tournament

Kellam Rolls, Silences Stallions: In front of a near packed to capacity crowd at Ocean Lakes High School on Friday night, the #2 seeded Kellam Knights had about as flawless a performance as a team could enjoy in capturing their second Beach District Tournament Championship in three years. Playing the fourth-seeded Green Run Stallions, Kellam jumped on them immediately in building an 18-6 lead after the first quarter and never looking back from there in a 55-38 rout.

It was textbook execution for the Knights from their passing, shooting and patience on the offensive end to the rebounding and contesting of shots defensively.

One player recorded as many rebounds for Kellam through three quarters of play as Green Run's entire team. The Knights also shot 59% from the field in the first half, got assists on nine of 11 field goals and converted four of their first eight three-pointers. There was little to nothing they could do wrong.

"It's a good time to peak," commented Kellam's Norman Hassell, the Beach District Coach of the Year. "Everybody wants to get on a streak before you get into regionals with a chance to go to Scope, and you want to play your best basketball at the end of the year. We put together one decent game. I'm very proud of the guys.

With the win, Kellam moved to 20-5 overall. Green Run dropped to 19-6 overall, suffering its second defeat to the Knights in three meetings this season.

Player of the Game: Kellam senior forward Ramone Snowden. It was truly one of Snowden's finest hours yet in a Knights uniform. The future Old Dominion Monarch fully embraced the mantle of being 'the man,' posting 22 points, 19 rebounds, six assists, three blocks and three steals.

Consecutive losses to Landstown within a three-day span humbled the Knights. That setback kept Kellam from capturing the outright Beach District regular season title and securing the #1 seed for regionals. Above all else, it served as motivation to fuel Snowden and his teammates.

"We were all kind of angry about giving up the #1 seed to Landstown, and we went at it in practice, down on the ground and everything," stated Snowden, who was selected as the Beach District Player of the Year on Saturday. "It was about being tougher. Last night, we won, but this one we just wanted it. If everybody stays focused, we're good to go."

Keys to Victory:

#1 - - Erase All Doubt, Beat the Press: Some teams come in with the mindset of it's relatively easy to get Kellam out of their comfort zone. Get the ball out of Snowden's hands, double him when he does touch it so that he has to give it up and pressure their guards since they have a sophomore playing the point in Janai Raynor-Powell.

"That's the one thing we work on every single day," Hassell said about preparing for presses. "Janai's a sophomore guard, but 25 games later he's seen it all at this point. We try not to let pressure bother us. Their pressure means we slow down and do our thing."

Through one half of play, Kellam turned it over just four times.

#2 - - Strike from the Perimeter:
To beat a Green Run team with talented guard play and athleticism, the Knights knew they had to counter by capitalizing on their outside shooting opportunities. When Snowden drove into the lane, he collapsed the defense and opened up wide open looks for his teammates from deep.

Tyler Vinsand and Alex Ratajczak struck on their open looks to help widen the lead to as many as 21 before intermission.

"I tell Ramone big-time players step up in big-time games," Hassell added. "When we're going to hit 3's from other people outside of him, it's going to be tough to guard. We got to the rim and that takes a lot of pressure off everybody just running at Ramone, so that helped a whole lot."

#3 - - Thwart Any Run:
Even though they were up 17 at the break, Kellam didn't sit back and relax with that lead. They were able to increase it by continuing to play fundamentally sound basketball, and when the reserves checked into the game for brief stretches, they maintained that same energy and momentum that got established in the first half.

By doing that, the Knights kept a dangerous Green Run team from going on a vintage run to make a comeback.

"We know that they are fierce competitors and that this is a game of runs," Hassell pointed out. "Everybody makes a run, so we were just trying to really caution ourselves about getting comfortable, lazy and allowing a big run to happen. We haven't done very well in the third quarter and don't really do well keeping our foot on the pedal. That was what most of our conversation was to try to keep everything going the way it was going and don't let up."

Regionals Set: One mission is complete for Kellam and that's capturing the Beach District Tournament crown. Now another one begins and that's getting back to the Norfolk Scope for the second time in three years.

Back in 2011, the Knights were a perfect 27-0 and lost a heart-breaker to eventual State Champion Norcom in the regional semifinals, a game that will stick with Snowden and others that were on that team.

"It means a lot. I'm determined to get us back there," Snowden commented.

Kellam will take on the #3 seed out of Southeastern District, Western Branch, at 6:00 PM at Princess Anne High School on Monday. The Bruins haven't won a region playoff game in 14 years and they are also smarting from blowing a 16-point fourth quarter lead to King's Fork in the Southeastern District Tournament Championship.

How does Kellam come down from cloud nine and get ready to play the Bruins?

"That high will be down real soon," Hassell answered. "You've got two days to go by, we're out of school Monday, will get together Monday morning early some point and we'll have a very detailed conversation about what's going on. That's a chance to go to Scope, and that's what we're all trying to do. If I've got to get you excited to get ready to go to Scope, you shouldn't have been on this team."

Postgame Audio with Kellam Coach Norman Hassell

Final Stats:

Kellam 55:
Ramone Snowden - - 22Pts. 9-15FG, 3-8FT, 19Reb. 6Ast. 3Blk. 3Stl.
Tyler Vinsand - - 12Pts. 4-8FG, 3-6 3's, 2Reb. 2Stl.
Chris Smith - - 11Pts. 4-6FG, 3-5FT, 5Reb.
Kobe Copeland - - 7Pts. 3-5FG, 6Reb. 2Ast.

Green Run 38:
Tyler Blount - - 8Pts. 3-15FG, 2-10 3's, 2Reb. 2Stl.
Demetri Wilson - - 7Pts. 3-9FG, 1-3 3's
Shaun James - - 6Pts. 2-3FG, 2-2FT, 4Reb.
Lequan Thomas - - 3Pts. 1-4FG, 1-4FT, 5Reb. 5Ast. 4Stl.

Matthew Hatfield serves as AAA 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 [email protected], and don't forget to listen to him on the VirginiaPreps.com Hour every Saturday at 11AM on ESPN Radio 94.1 and watch him on the Cox 11 Sports Report.

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