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February 21, 2013

LIVE Thursday Blog at Scope!

11:30 PM: Well, Day 2 of the Eastern Region Tournament quarterfinals at the Norfolk Scope has come to an end and it matched, maybe topped, the exhilaration seen at the end of Day 1. We got to witness a buzzer-beater in overtime on Wednesday night, and then a double-overtime classic the next night.

Let's review the Finals from Thursday's action and take a look ahead to Sunday's semifinals.

Boys Quarters Final - - King's Fork 69, Norcom 59 (2OT's)
Boys Quarters Final - - Kecoughtan 77, Western Branch 66
Girls Quarters Final - - Lake Taylor 61, King's Fork 56
Girls Quarters Final - - Woodside 54, Grassfield 45

Which brings up to this lineup for the weekend as two Girls teams and two Boys teams will be trying to punch their ticket to the Group AAA State Tournament.

2:00 PM (Girls) - - #2 Maury (21-5) vs. #1 Princess Anne (26-1)
4:00 PM (Boys) - - #2 Hampton (22-6) vs. #1 Great Bridge (23-3)
6:00 PM (Girls) - - #1 Lake Taylor (24-0) vs. #1 Woodside (26-1)
8:00 PM (Boys) - - #2 King's Fork (23-4) vs. #1 Kecoughtan (24-4)

My picks over the last two days - - 8-0! For my predictions on Sunday's semifinals, be sure to tune in to High School Sports Talk Presented by VirginiaPreps.com from 10 AM to Noon on ESPN Radio 94.1. We'll have interviews and analysis all morning, too.

That will do it until Sunday for our Eastern Region Tournament Blog. I'll be headed to the 804 area code and Richmond for Friday night's Central Region Tournament semifinal clash between Henrico and John Marshall - - be sure to check back for Updates!

9:55 PM: It is now over, a dramatic and exciting double-overtime classic in the Eastern Region Tournament quarterfinals. The King's Fork Bulldogs outlasted the Norcom Greyhounds to advance to the Eastern Region Tournament semifinals on Sunday against Peninsula District Champ Kecoughtan.

Here are the Final Numbers from our pal Mike Whittington of STATVA (www.statva.com).

Final Stats: 2OT's

King's Fork Bulldogs 69: (23-4 Overall)
Rod Parrett - - 18Pts. 6-21FG, 3-8 3's, 3-4FT, 7Reb.
Jacorey Smith - - 17Pts. 6-18FG, 2-7 3's, 3-6FT, 6Reb.
Byron Taylor - - 14Pts. 5-10FG, 4-7FT, 16Reb.
Donte Ralph - - 9Pts. 2-6FG, 5-6FT, 6Reb.
Akanni White - - 8Pts. 3-12FG, 2-5FT, 7Reb. 3Ast. 2Stl.
Bulldogs - - 23-73FG, 5-18 3's, 18-30FT, 53Reb. 5Ast. 11TO's, 8Stl.

Norcom Greyhounds 59: (17-8 Overall)
James Whitaker - - 21Pts. 9-17FG, 1-4 3's, 2-5FT, 13Reb. 4Ast.
Malique Trent - - 18Pts. 7-15FG, 3-6 3's, 1-4FT, 7Reb. 2Ast. (Fouled Out)
Troy Locke - - 13Pts. 4-12FG, 5-8FT, 9Reb. (Fouled Out)
Antonio Parker - - 6Pts. 1-10FG, 4-6FT, 5Reb. (Fouled Out), 2Blk. 2Stl.
Greyhounds - - 21-60FG, 4-17 3's, 13-25FT, 51Reb. 10Ast. 18TO's, 7Stl.

Postgame Audio with King's Fork Head Basketball Coach Josh Worrell

Norcom's loss might've as hard to swallow if not tougher than Landstown's the night before to Hampton. Trent fouling out certainly hurt them for the overtime sessions. The Greyhounds have been through a lot this season, having to deal with Coach Stevenson's passing earlier in the year. Whitaker had some pretty good numbers, but the Greyhounds' 18 turnovers were a few too much and Coach Goolsby ended up having to play his bench probably more than he would've liked to due to foul trouble.

For King's Fork, it was another splendid comeback. They did it against Western Branch, rallying from 16 down in the fourth quarter to win the Southeastern District Tournament Championship. No deficit is too large for these guys. Parrett and White both rebounded well from the guard spot, combining for 14 of them, and Taylor was simply an energizer bunny and a beast with 14 points and 16 boards. Getting to the foul line and getting offensive boards allowed them to battle back and win the game along with their rock solid defensive play that made Norcom have to earn any points they got late.

9:52 PM: The King's Fork Bulldogs are moving on to the regional semifinals on Sunday at the Norfolk Scope against the Kecoughtan Warriors of the Peninsula District.

BOYS QUARTERS FINAL SCORE IN 2OT'S - - KING'S FORK 69, NORCOM 59

9:48 PM: In the second overtime session, King's Fork energizer bunny delivers with a big put-back, plus draws the foul. That's Byron Taylor with the three-point play to give the Bulldogs a 60-57 lead. The gas tank seems to have hit empty for Norcom and King's Fork has a little more left in the tank in this battle of attrition.

Taylor yanks down a key defensive rebound on a three-point miss by James Whitaker and then Donte Ralph comes through with a put-back. Taylor then comes up with a crucial steal and jam to push the Bulldogs' lead to 64-57. With 1:08 to go in the second OT, Akanni White goes to the foul line and makes 1-of-2 to push the advantage to 65-57.

Barring something unforeseen, King's Fork is going to continue its hot streak and win their 11th in a row. That will put the Bulldogs at 23-4 overall and in the regional semifinals against Peninsula District Champ Kecoughtan. Stay tuned for a Final Score and Final Stats in a few.

One other tidbit - - in the Northwest Region Tournament semifinals, it was Battlefield surprising GW-Danville to move on to the title game, where they will take on Mountain View, which beat Stonewall Jackson. Mountain View owns the longest win streak among all AAA teams in Virginia at 23 games.

Also in the Central Region Tournament semifinals, John Marshall defeated Armstrong 65-53. That means the Justices will play one of the Eastern Region's two teams in the Group AAA State Tournament quarterfinals, either at ODU or VCU.

9:41 PM: With 11.5 seconds left in OT, Norcom's Antonio Parker makes 1-of-2 at the foul line to push the Greyhounds' advantage to 57-55. King's Fork's Jacorey Smith gets fouled with 6.1 seconds left. Smith calmly steps up and hits two pressurized free-throws to tie the score at 57. Norcom takes a fall-away three-pointer at the buzzer that's off the mark.

DOUBLE OT - - King's Fork 57, Norcom 57

This has been a wonderful game and the players as well as coaches, Josh Worrell and Leon Goolsby, deserve a tremendous amount of credit. You have to wonder with Malique Trent out for another four minutes can Norcom mustard up enough energy to pull this out? It's going to be mighty, mighty tough.

9:35 PM: With 1:26 to go in OT and King's Fork up two, Jacorey Smith heads to the free-throw line for the Bulldogs Smith makes 1-of-2 foul shots to extend KF's lead to 55-52. But Norcom has been through too much to throw in the towel now after all the adversity they've faced; James Whitaker with a put-back to slice the deficit to a point.

After that, Antonio Parker rejects a shot at the cup. Whitaker comes through again and puts Norcom back in the lead. It looked like it was going to end just a few moments ago for Norcom, but they are back in front at 56-55 with 47 seconds to play in OT.

Whitaker ties up Smith with 32.5 seconds to go and the possession arrow points to King's Fork. Coach Josh Worrell will call a time-out for the Bulldogs and draw up a play. I'm thinking double screen and an easy backdoor or isolation play for Smith. It's an iso J for Smith, it's no good, but Akanni White with a steal. That leaves Rod Parrett wide open for a three-pointer and it just pops out (it looked good). Norcom will shoot two free-throws with 11.5 seconds to play in OT.

9:30 PM: The Norcom Greyhounds led by nine in the fourth quarter before King's Fork staged one of their classic comebacks, rallying to tie the score at 52-all to force overtime. That means four minutes of action in OT.

Nearing the 2 minute mark, we're still searching for the first points in the OT as both teams have traded some close misses and the defense is really tough on both sides right now. Malique Trent, Norcom's senior star and the Eastern District Player of the Year, has fouled out with 2:02 to go and the Greyhounds could be watching this one slip away.

Donte Ralph makes two consecutive free-throws for King's Fork and the Bulldogs then draw a charge with 1:46 remaining, ahead by two on the Greyhounds, 54-52. Norcom is going to find it mighty difficult to win this game without Trent, their primary offensive option, down the stretch. They have to turn to James Whitaker and Troy Locke to key the charge.

9:24 PM: The foul shooting in this one leaves a lot to be desired. But that aside, this has been one heck of a ball game and fun to watch with both teams playing with a great amount of intensity and desire on both ends of the floor. It's sad that a really fine ball club will be going home and denied a shot at playing Kecoughtan, the Peninsula District Champ, in the regional semifinals on Sunday.

Norcom's Antonio Parker misses the first foul shot, and after a time-out, connects on the second to push the Greyhounds' lead to 52-50. With 15.3 seconds left, King's Fork senior guard and All-Southeastern District performer Jacorey Smith drives to the hole and scores to knot the score at 52. All I can say is WOW! The shot goes in with five seconds left. Coach Goolsby of Norcom gets a time-out with 2.4 seconds left to try and get a shot here or else we'll see OT in the quarterfinals for a second straight night.

Another crazy turn of event, Norcom turns it over underneath King's Fork's basket, giving the Bulldogs the ball with 2.4 seconds left and a shot to win the game. King's Fork gets a good look, but Troy Locke (who missed 2 key FT's earlier) comes to the rescue with a rejection. We'll play overtime, folks, for the second night in a row.

OT - - King's Fork 52, Norcom 52. Four more minutes of free basketball, who doesn't love it? Well, Norcom fans aren't because they had this game won and if they lose this will be a sick feeling for a long, long time.

9:19 PM: Just needing some free-throws to put this one away, Norcom fails to put this one on ice as they miss a pair with 53 seconds left.

King's Fork, usually a dependable free-throw shooting team (they made 11-of-11 at a game I saw earlier this year in the first half vs. Oscar Smith), misses two free-throws. But fortunately for the Bulldogs, they get the offensive rebound. The Bulldogs get another chance to tie it with 22.2 seconds to go.

Freshman guard Deshaun Wethington misses the first free-throw, and then makes the second. With 19 seconds to go, Norcom calls a time-out, barely ahead by a count of 51-50.

9:15 PM: A side note to point out here in the Blog - - a much better crowd this evening than on Wednesday night. Not a surprise as Norcom and King's Fork are two passionate fan bases, kind of like the modern day versions of Booker T. Washington and Nansemond River in terms of loyal crowds that support their team. Anyways, back to the action.

King's Fork moves within two points down at 46-44 with 3:36 to go as the junkyard dog starts to fire up his squad, Byron Taylor with the deuce. Norcom has to bring Malique Trent back in soon. Coach Leon Goolsby subs him in, and Trent goes to the basket and draws the foul. Troy Locke then scores and Antonio Parker denies a Bulldogs shot attempt at the rim. That gives Norcom a 49-44 lead with 2:30 to play.

Rod Parrett hits a shot for King's Fork, but James Whitaker answers to make it 51-46 in favor of the Greyhounds. Whitaker misses a three-pointer the next trip down on what was a puzzling shot attempt, and King's Fork seizes the opportunity to move within a possession down. Jacorey Smith drains a three-pointer with 1:10 left, cutting the Norcom lead to 51-49.

Can the Greyhounds hang on? Their shot selection has to be very selective and wise or else King's Fork may steal this one in regulation or force overtime.

9:09 PM: With no shot clock, I'm a little surprised that Norcom isn't trying to slow the game down some because they don't need to rush. That plays into the hands of King's Fork somewhat. The Greyhounds are in a good rhythm offensively, though.

What's troubling for Norcom is that Trent will have to check out with 4:14 to play due to his fourth foul. King's Fork is on the bonus and they convert at the foul line to cut the Greyhounds' lead down to 46-40 approaching the midway mark. It's now 46-42 with 3:49 to play after Norcom misses three shots at the rim and King's Fork responds with a fast-break bucket by Donte Ralph.

Coach Josh Worrell calls time-out to set his defense up and his team has all the energy and momentum on its side, especially with Trent not in the game.

9:02 PM: The Greyhoudns are trying to continue their magical hot streak and they are leaning on their two perimeter standouts in Malique Trent and James Whitaker to carry them to the finish line. Whitaker hits a three-pointer and a jumper, followed by Trent's bucket. That increases the Norcom lead to 42-33.

King's Fork is not out of it at all, but they need to find an answer fast or else this will grow to a double-digit deficit.

8:58 PM: We've reached the end of three periods of play and the King's Fork Bulldogs have knocked down a couple of perimeter jumpers, a three-pointer from Jacorey Smith and a long two from Rod Parrett with a three-pointer from Norcom's Malique Trent sandwiched in, to draw closer entering the fourth quarter. Norcom's lead is only four.

End 3rdQ - - Norcom 35, King's Fork 31

King's Fork is hanging around, something they are notorious for and if Norcom doesn't put them away and gives them a chance to steal this game, they will do it without blinking.

8:51 PM: Norcom is starting to hit a bit of an offensive lull again and King's Fork is looking to capitalize and cut into that deficit. Rod Parrett buries a much needed three-pointer for the Bulldogs and they trail only 31-26 with 3:14 to play.

Coach Leon Goolsby asks a time-out as he knows his team is starting to play just a pinch out of control. He wants to settle them down and thwart any momentum for King's Fork before this third quarter comes to a close. If they don't, the dog pound here in attendance that came from Suffolk will start to bark loudly.

8:44 PM: King's Fork begins the second half with a three-pointer from guard Rod Parrett, much to the delight of Coach Josh Worrell, who recently called Parrett one of his favorite players to coach. After seeing that shot go in there, it's easy to see why. Coach Worrell is whistled for a rare bench warming.

Norcom stays on the attack though and they get to the free-throw line, playing a much smarter and under control brand of basketball than early on in the season when they were 8-7 overall. Of course, they've rallied around the tragic death of their assistant coach Barney Stevenson and they're playing with a lot of emotion during this postseason run.

The Greyhounds are still ahead, 30-23 on King's Fork with 5:02 to go, but Jacorey Smith has three fouls and will have to play the rest of the period without picking up his fourth or they'll be in serious trouble.

8:34 PM: Who will see Kecoughtan in Sunday's Eastern Region Tournament semifinals and join the Warriors, Great Bridge and Hampton? It'll either be the Eastern District Tournament Champion Greyhounds from Norcom or Southeastern District Tournament Champion King's Fork Bulldogs.

Through 16 minutes of play, it's Norcom in front. Here are some numbers courtesy of Mike Whittington & STATVA (www.statva.com) at the break.

Stats at the Half:

Norcom 26:
Malique Trent - - 10Pts. 4-8FG, 2-3 3's, 4Reb.
James Whitaker - - 6Pts. 3-6FG, 4Reb.
Troy Locke - - 8Pts. 3-4FG, 2-2FT
Greyhounds - - 10-22FG, 2-7 3's, 4-6FT, 14Reb.
(13Def.), 5Ast. 5TO's, 5Stl.

King's Fork 18:
Akanni White - - 7Pts. 3-7FG, 2Reb.
Byron Taylor - - 6Pts. 2-6FG, 2-4FT, 6Reb.
Rod Parrett - - 3Pts. 1-5FG, 1-2 3's, 3Reb.
Bulldogs - - 7-28FG, 1-4 3's, 3-5FT, 21Reb. (9Off.) 1Ast. 7TO's, 3Stl.

Norcom's two weapons from the outside, Whitaker and Trent, are explosive and showed a hot streak to close the first half. Another at any juncture in the second half will be enough in my opinion for the Greyhounds to hold on and win. This King's Fork team has a lot of fight in it and battled back from a 16-point fourth quarter deficit against Western Branch in the Southeastern District Tournament Championship a week ago.

King's Fork is +8 on the offensive glass, and if that continues in the second half, they can claw its way back. Keeping Smith out of foul trouble is vital, though.

8:27 PM: We're seeing much better offensive execution by Norcom against the King's Fork defense. After James Whitaker knotted the score at 12-apiece, King's Fork would take a brief 15-14 lead on Rod Parrett's three-pointer. Norcom came right back behind Eastern District Player of the Year Malique Trent, who is starting to get in a groove.

Trent scores to put the Greyhounds up, King's Fork answers with Akanni White's three-point play, but then it's Malique again with a jumper. Trent then sinks a three-pointer and Norcom takes total advantage of Bulldogs guard Jacorey Smith getting whistled for his second foul. Norcom closes out the quarter with a bang as Trent gets a steal, followed by two field goals from Whitaker.

The Greyhounds end the first half on a 9-0 run to take a 26-18 lead into intermission. We'll have some numbers in a few minutes, be sure to check back!

8:19 PM: King's Fork is really digging in well defensively. It's looking as if playing in this environment and atmosphere at the Norfolk Scope, on a big floor, just one year ago is paying dividends for the Bulldogs compared to Norcom, which is making its first trip here since that fantastic trio of Dorian Finney-Smith, DeCarlos Anderson and Jeremy Canty departed.

The Bulldogs have gone to a 2-3 zone defense and trapping the corner really well. It has Norcom a little befuddled for the time being. All Norcom needs to do to adjust is overload one side and there will be a cutter down the middle. Let's say if they recognize that as the game progresses.

Norcom is starting to get out of its early offensive funk and North Carolina A&T commit James Whitaker ties the score at 12-apiece with 5:39 before half-time.

8:11 PM: It has been a somewhat ugly opening quarter with both teams trading some turnovers, a couple early baskets and with 1:29 to go in the period it's King's Fork leading Norcom 8-6. An offensive rebound and stick-back by Wallace McDowney, a player that has progressed as the season has gone on, pushes that lead to 10-6.

Norcom isn't getting the outside jumpers to fall early and it'll be interesting to see how Coach Leon Goolsby gets them to adjust or counter that in the second quarter. Troy Locke, a junior, has four of their six points so far. For King's Fork, Byron Taylor has four points, mostly off his activity and non-stop motor, and Akanni White has contributed four points. The good news for King's fork is their two best scoring weapons at the guard spot, Jacorey Smith and Rod Parrett have yet to get hot, and they normally do,.

On the flip side, Norcom has yet to get Malique Trent or James Whitaker on track shooting the ball and those are two of the streakiest, most explosive perimeter wings/shooters around.

8:04 PM: We are underway in the nightcap on this Thursday of the Eastern Region Tournament quarterfinals in Boys Basketball, where the Eastern District Champion Norcom Greyhounds (17-7) take on the Southeastern District Tournament Champion King's Fork Bulldogs (22-4) with a date against Kecoughta in Sunday's regional semifinals the prize.

Norcom got eliminated by King's Fork in the opening round of last year's Eastern Region Tournament, but beat the Bulldogs earlier this season in Suffolk. Who wins this time? It's very close to call and tough to say. Both teams rely on their perimeter play greatly with the Greyhounds asking their guards to strike from behind the three-point line more and the Bulldogs looking for theirs to attack off the dribble.

Whichever team can get a lift from its bench and maximize its possessions via the offensive glass will have a great shot at pulling it out.

7:20 PM: It's in the books and the Kecoughtan Warriors are headed to the Eastern Region Tournament semifinals for a third time under Coach Ivan Thomas in four seasons. The Warriors improve their record to 23-4 overall, and despite some sluggish moments late, the Warriors were outstanding at times.

Western Branch's fine season comes to a close at 18-9 overall.

BOYS QUARTERS FINAL SCORE - - KECOUGHTAN 77, WESTERN BRANCH 66

Some numbers from Mike Whittington & STATVA (www.statva.com)

Kecoughtan Warriors 77: (23-4 Overall)
Rajay Bullock - - 27Pts. 10-23FG, 7-7FT, 15Reb. 4Ast.
Greg Alexander - - 23Pts. 9-15FG, 2-5 3's, 3-4FT, 5Reb.
Lawrence Williams - - 16Pts. 7-10FG, 3Reb. 2Stl.
Kaelin Poe - - 9Pts. 4-4FG, 6Reb. 3Blk.
Warriors - - 31-57FG, 3-8 3's, 12-16FT, 39Reb. 12Ast. 17TO's, 4Blk. 9Stl.

Western Branch Bruins 66: (18-9 Overall)
Demonte Burns - - 19Pts. 8-12FG, 2-4 3's, 2Reb. 5Ast.
Jashad Jamison - - 19Pts. 9-17FG, 9Reb. 2Blk.
Desmond Johnson - - 12Pts. 5-13FG, 2-2FT, 4Reb.
Nigel Ribeiro - - 9Pts. 3-14FG, 1-7 3's, 2-2FT, 6Reb. 3Ast. 8Stl.
Bruins 28-66FG, 4-23 3's, 6-9FT, 31Reb. 12Ast. 11TO's, 2Blk. 10Stl.

Postgame Audio with Kecoughtan Coach Ivan Thomas
Postgame Audio with Kecoughtan's Greg Alexander

Western Branch ordinarily wins when they score 66 points, but they couldn't get enough defensive stops against a Kecoughtan team that got 50 points combined from their two main guns, Bullock and Alexander, and 16 points off the pine from Williams on an efficient 7-of-10 shooting. Western Branch cooled off considerably shooting it from deep with just four makes from deep after seeing C.J. Thomas drain six from downtown vs. Kellam on Monday.

Kecoughtan knows they must play better defensively moving forward to continue to advance. With the way Bullock is dominating games and the length the Warriors have on the front-line, it's a problem for any team they face moving forward.

7:10 PM: As much as the defensive lapses hurt Kecoughtan early, the offensive mistakes are preventing them from getting any separation from a Western Branch team that simply won't quit. The Warriors just turned it over for a 19th time this evening, and that came after a Demonte Burns three-pointer trimmed the Kecoughtan lead to 71-64.

Western Branch looks for another long shot to make it just a two possession game, but it's off the mark and Will Askew grabs the board.

Moments earlier for Kecoughtan, ECU signee Greg Alexander threw down big-time jam that was SportsCenter worthy as well. Rajay Bullock rejects a driving lay-up attempt for Western Branch, but the Warriors are missing some opportunities at the foul line to put this away and giving up some offensive boards. Coach Ivan Thomas can't be pleased with how Kecoughtan has finished this game as they had a great shot to go up and win by 20-plus, but are stuck up only nine with 34.5 seconds to play.

Regardless of some sluggish moments in the fourth quarter, Kecoughatn will move on to Sunday's semifinals of the Eastern Region Tournament it appears and play the winner of the next quarterfinal between King's Fork and Norcom.

6:58 PM: Every time Western Branch thinks they are right back in it and they get a fast-break opportunity or lay-up at the rim, Kecoughtan comes right back to dash those hopes with a basket, either in the painted area or a wide open jumper.

With 3:48 to go though, Western Branch has whittled down a Kecoughtan lead that was as many as 16 to 11 at 66-55. It's hard to envision them completing a comeback because of how Rajay Bullock has taken over; the Providence signee and tri-Player of the Year in the Peninsula District has 24 points. He's got plenty of help from the supporting cast with Greg Alexander and Lawrence Williams chipping in 16 points apiece.

Western Branch has to create a couple turnovers with their press, and be very mindful of where Bullock is at all times because the 6-foot-7 forward is so unique because of his ability to handle the basketball.

6:49 PM: It's becoming an Xbox360 three-point shoot-pout in here at the Norfolk Scope. Lawrence Williams, the game's super sub coming off the bench for Kecoughtan, drains one from deep, but Western Branch's Nigel Ribeiro says right back at you with the long distance connect.

The Warriors are getting their big man involved heavily in the offense now though as Rajay Bullock scores on back-to-back trips in the paint; he's got 22 points through three periods. Defensively though, Kecoughtan is having some mental lapses that could cost them later on at some point in the postseason if they don't correct.

Will Askew closes out the third quarter for the Warriors with a gorgeous alley-oop feed to senior Kaelin Poe for the flush. Folks, that slam was simply a thing of beauty and should be on SportsCenter later.

End 3rdQ - - Kecoughtan 60, Western Branch 47

The Bruins, fresh off their first region playoff win since 1999, need a special comeback and it's not likely going to happen here because the Warriors have too many weapons to try to stop to slice into this lead all the way in my opinion.

6:42 PM: This game has kind of turned into a defense optional affair, at least compared to last night. Both teams are getting up and down the floor with regularity and scoring on the other fairly easily. With 4:08 to go in the third quarter, Kecoughtan is still up, but it's not as comfortable as it was earlier.

The Bruins have trimmed the Warriors' advantage to 42-33. Jashad Jamison and Demonte Burns, two of Western Branch's seniors that have been through the tough times, losing seasons and some great battles in the past couple years, have combined for 23 points. Kaelin Poe's block led to a Greg Alexander lay-up at the other end.

Coach Chris Fuhrmann has to like that his Bruins are starting to chip away, but Ivan Thomas has the secret weapon in Rajay Bullock, who throws down a monster jam.

6:30 PM: We've reached half-time and Kecoughtan is in firm control. Fortunately for Western Branch, they don't go to the locker room down quite as much thanks to Demonte Burns' three-pointer to take the deficit from 16 to 13.

Half - - Kecoughtan 36, Western Branch 23

Here are some numbers of note thanks to our pal Mike Whittington of STATVA (www.statva.com):

Kecoughtan 36:
Lawrence Williams - - 11Pts. 5-8FG, 2Reb. 2Stl.
Rajay Bullock - - 10Pts. 4-12FG, 2-2FT, 10Reb. 3Ast.
Greg Alexander - - 9Pts. 4-6FG, 1-2 3's, 2Reb.
Kaelin Poe - - 4Pts. 2-2FG
Warriors - - 16-31FG, 1-4 3's, 3-4FT, 20Reb.
6Ast. 5TO's, 5Stl.

Western Branch 23:
Demonte Burns - - 9Pts. 4-5FG, 1-2 3's
Jashad Jamison - - 7Pts. 3-6FG, 1-2FT, 1Reb. 1Blk.
C.J. Thomas - - 5Pts. 2-4FG, 1-3 3's, 2Reb.
Bruins - - 10-24FG, 2-9 3's, 1-4FT, 11Reb. 3Ast. 7TO's, 2Stl.

The Bruins aren't doing that bad of a job offensively and getting a lot of good looks at the basket, but defensively is where they are getting eaten up as the Warriors are shooting 51.6% from the floor and it seems like 60%. Kecoughtan's offensive rebounding has allowed them to make it seem higher, plus the Warriors have 11 points off turnovers. Bullock's 10 boards alone is nearly as much as the Bruins have.

Western Branch just has to take better care of the ball to start the second half. If you're Kecoughtan, stomp on their throat early and take away any doubt and increase the lead over 20 to where it puts the nail in the coffin. That's the difference between good teams and great teams, Championship caliber ones and the Warriors aspire to be that this postseason.

6:25 PM: A nice drive by Western Branch's Demonte Burns allows the Bruins to cut the Kecoughtan lead down from 11 to nine midway through the second quarter, but they can't find an answer defensively for the Warriors. Lawrence Williams is driving to the cup at will, Greg Alexander is scoring inside and outside, and Rajay Bullock's length and skill level is slowly but surely starting to take effect in this one.

Kecoughtan's lead is back up to double-figures, 32-19 with just under two minutes to go in the first half, and Ivan Thomas has to feel this is the best first half showing his team has shown at the Scope in the Eastern Region Tournament yet since his arrival to the program from T.C. Williams, where he won a state title back in 2008.

Bullock is starting to heat up; he now has eight points to go with Williams' 11 and Alexander's nine. Western Branch trying to put its first guy in double-figuers.

6:20 PM: With 6:15 to play, Western Branch is trying to inch its way back in it and might be able to do so to a certain degree now that sophomore point guard Marcell Haskett of Kecoughtan has to go to the bench with his second foul. C.J. Thomas hits a three-pointer for Western Branch; he's drained 12 over his last two games, including six in the first quarter alone vs. Kellam.

Right now though, Western Branch's defense does not have an answer for Lawrence Williams' penetration. At times, the Bruins are over penetrating and settling for some 3's, leading to fast-break opportunities for Kecoughtan. The Bruins do want to play up-tempo, and while the Warriors are effective at doing that, Kecoughtan has to be careful not to let Western Branch make it a speedy and sloppy game that allows them to crawl back into it little by little.

Kecoughtan leads 22-15 with 4:47 to go in the second quarter, and Williams, who has 10 points off the pine for the Warriors, heads to the foul line to shoot a pair.

6:14 PM: At the end of the first quarter, it's all Kecoughtan, comfortably ahead 18-8 on Western Branch and doing a great job of executing its offense in the half-court. They are driving pretty much whenever they want, and while Jashad Jamison of the Bruins has done a pretty solid job defensively on Providence signee Rajay Bullock of the Warriors, Kecoughtan is starting to open up the defense by spreading the floor and getting really good perimeter looks.

6:07 PM: Out of the gate, Western Branch has shown some good energy and responded from a 4-0 deficit and two quick Kecoughtan baskets by Providence signee Rajay Bullock and East Carolina signee Greg Alexander, who I might add has one of the purest shooting strokes in all of Virginia. The Bruins answer with baskets by Jashad Jamison and C.J. Thomas.

Kecoughtan's lead is only 8-6, but the Warriors are playing at a patient pace that makes you think a run is coming very soon.

5:50 PM: The Boys Eastern Region Tournament quarterfinals tonight between the Western Branch Bruins (18-8), the #3 seed out of the Southeastern District, and the Peninsula District's top seed, the Kecoughtan Warriors (22-4). That'll be followed by Eastern District #1 seed Norcom vs. Southeastern District #2 seed King's Fork.

Before we get to that tip, let's review the numbers from Lake Taylor's 61-56 victory over King's Fork in the Eastern Region Girls Basketball Tournament quarterfinals.

Final Stats:

Lake Taylor Lady Titans 61: (24-0 Overall)
Feyonda Fitzgerald - - 24Pts. 6-27FG, 4-7 3's, 8-12FT, 10Reb. 9Ast. 2Stl.
Endia McKinney - - 14Pts. (12 in 2nd Half), 7-11FG, 8Reb.
Kyara Cooper - - 8Pts. 3-10FG, 2-7 3's, 5Reb.
Jordan Mitchell-Harmel - - 8Pts. 2-12FG, 3-5FT, 14Reb. 4Ast. 2Stl.
Courtney White - - 7Pts. 3-6FG, 2Reb.
Lady Titans - - 21-69FG, 8-20 3's, 11-18FT, 49Reb. 14Ast. 12TO's, 7Stl.

King's Fork Lady Bulldogs 56: (23-4 Overall)
Khadedra Croker - - 14Pts. 7-12FG, 9Reb. (9Def.), 3Ast. 6Blk.
Chantel Roberts - - 12Pts. 6-13FG, 9Reb. 6Ast.
Julissa Riddick - - 11Pts. 5-10FG, 3Reb. 4Ast. 2Stl.
Adrienna McCrary - - 9Pts. 3-8FG, 1-5 3's, 4Reb.
Lady Bulldogs - - 24-52FG, 2-13 3's, 6-9FT, 33Reb. 17Ast. 17TO's, 6Stl.

Postgame Audio with Lake Taylor Lady Titans Coach Saundra Sawyer

5:15 PM: Needing to foul down a deuce, King's Fork finally does and Lake Taylor heads to the foul line with 22.7 seconds to go. The Lady Titans miss the front-end of a one-and-one opportunity, but get the offensive board and will shoot a one-and-one again with 19.6 seconds left. King's Fork still has life after the miss, except Lake Taylor gets the offensive rebound AGAIN.

With 16.3 seconds to go, Feyonda Fitzgerald makes two free-throws to push the Lady Titans' lead to four. They then steal the inbounds pass and Fitzgerald makes 1-of-2 at the foul line. Another King's Fork turnover will do it, and a valiant effort by the Lady Bulldogs comes up short. Lake Taylor's Girls squad has been tremendous and they keep their record unblemished, moving to 24-0 overall.

GIRLS QUARTERS FINAL SCORE - - LAKE TAYLOR 61, KING'S FORK 56

Final Numbers coming momentarily, and don't forget, we've got two Boys Basketball games in the quarterfinals upcoming with Western Branch vs. Kecoughtan followed by Norcom taking on King's Fork.

5:09 PM: King's Fork is starting to get better movement against that usually difficult to solve 1-3-1 zone defense of Lake Taylor. It's still tied with 2:38 to play in a game that has gotten extra scrappy, physical and aggressive for Girls Hoops, a real good one here at the Scope.

A missed three-pointer that would've given King's Fork the lead with 2:05 to go turns into a Lake Taylor three-point lead with 1:52 left as Feyonda Fitzgerald feeds sophomore guard Kyara Cooper for a trey. Credit the Lake Taylor offensive execution with great spacing, spreading the floor and finding the open shooter consistently this afternoon.

With 1:29 to go, Julissa Riddick makes 1-of-2 from the foul line for King's Fork to trim the Lake Taylor lead to 58-56. It's Lake Taylor ball with 45.2 seconds to go and up two, so King's Fork will have to get a turnover or foul here.

5:03 PM: To counter the 2-3 zone by King's Fork, Coach Saundra Sawyer has turned to a 1-3-1 zone defense to bottle up the Lady Bulldogs' offense in the half-court. But Lake Taylor is giving up some offensive rebounds and that's allowing King's Fork to hang around, trailing only 52-51 with 5:04 remaining after their latest put-back.

Lake Taylor has to feel confident because their star guard Feyonda Fitzgerald has thrived in so many close games before, but King's Fork is playing like a very live underdog and the Lady Bulldogs are trying to notch arguably the biggest win in school history. One or two mistakes late may ultimately determine the outcome of this game.

4:59 PM: Utilizing a 2-3 zone defense, King's Fork has stayed within striking distance of Lake Taylor, trying to stay unbeaten and move on to the regional semifinals on Sunday vs. reigning Eastern Region Champ Woodside.

Endia McKinney of Lake Taylor had 10 of her 12 points in the third quarter for the Lady Titans to really spark their offense, getting most of those points off feeds from star guard Feyonda Fitzgerald, the Temple commit. Sophomore Kyara Cooper hit a huge three-pointer to break a 47-all tie with King's Fork with under a minute to go in the third quarter.

King's Fork missed two lay-ups underneath that would've drawn them closer before the end of the third period. Khadedra Croker has been a factor with 14 points, but the Lady Bulldogs have to keep the tempo up to have a shot in this one because scoring in the half-court has been tricky at times vs. this Lake Taylor defense.

End 3rdQ - - Lake Taylor Girls 50, King's Fork 47

This has been one of the best games of the tournament so far.

4:47 PM: King's Fork comes out of the second half very inspired and sharing the basketball exceedingly well. They move it around and get a three-pointer from Adrieanna McCrary to take a 39-37 lead less than two minutes into the third quarter to answer Feyonda Fitzgerald's tying bucket for Lake Taylor.

After Lake Taylor gets two offensive rebounds, one leading to a basket, and it must be pointed out that Jordan Mitchell-Harmel is hustling really well on the offensive glass, the Lady Bulldogs come back for a deuce again. Lake Taylor ties it at 41-all on Endia McKinney's bucket and this has a very exciting, up-tempo pace about it that reminds you of a Boys game.

McKinney is warming up and giving Lake Taylor that second, reliable scorer to complement Fitzgerald; she's got six of her eight points this half and the Lady Titans are on top 43-41 with 5:10 left in the third quarter.

4:39 PM: Here are some numbers at the break in this Girls Eastern Region Tournament quarterfinal match between undefeated Lake Taylor and King's Fork.

Stats at the Half:

Lake Taylor 32:
Feyonda Fitzgerald - - 17Pts. 5-21FG, 4-6 3's, 3-4FT, 7Reb. 4Ast.
Courtney White - - 7Pts. 3-5FG, 2PF
Jordan Mitchell-Harmel - - 4Pts. 1-7FG, 3Reb.
Lady Titans - - 11-40FG, 6-12 3's, 4-6FT, 22Reb. 6Ast. 5TO's, 5Stl.

King's Fork 32:
Khadedra Croker - - 8Pts. 4-9FG, 8Reb. (8Def.), 1Ast. 2PF
Chantel Roberts - - 8Pts. 4-6FG, 7Reb. 3Ast.
Adrienna McCrary - - 4Pts. 2-6FG, 3Reb.
Lady Bulldogs - - 14-31FG, 1-7 3's, 3-4FT, 24Reb. 10Ast. 10TO's, 2Stl.

Lake Taylor has done a great job shooting from behind the arc. Fitzgerald is on pace to shoot 42 shots, which would be some kind of record or something. I see her being more of a distributor this half though and getting to the foul line when the opportunities are there.

For King's Fork, they have to like how they are rebounding and getting the ball in deep, but they must continue to hit the offensive glass and keep the turnovers to a minimum; if that total grows above 20 they are in trouble.

4:27 PM: Wow, it's been an entertaining second quarter to say the least here at the Norfolk Scope between the Lady Titans of Lake Taylor and King's Fork. King's Fork tied the score at 16 early in the period on Adrienna McCrary's bucket and then Lake Taylor revved up its offense behind star guard Feyonda Fitzgerald.

The Temple-bound guard lit it up from beyond the arc and you could hear some chants of 'Fey for 3.' Fitzgerald isn't just a scorer either; she's a great playmaker, who on the break had the presence of mind to stop, pull up on her dribble and feed it to an open teammate in Courtney White, who scored five straight points in a key sequence in the second quarter.

King's Fork didn't flinch one bit though and came back from Fitzgerald's back-to-back three-pointers and the five straight points from White. Junior Shanell Pope drained an important three-pointer, the lone one of the half for the Lady Bulldogs, and McCrary's hoop before the horn tied the score at the half.

Half - - King's Fork Girls 32, Lake Taylor 32

We'll have stats in a little bit!

4:15 PM: Through one quarter of play, it's deadlocked at 12 between King's Fork and Lake Taylor. Coach Maurice Fofana of the Lady Bulldogs has to be pleased that his team is hanging in there against the tenacious full-court press of Lake Taylor. However, let's point out that press is built to wear teams down over 32 minutes as much as force turnovers that translate into easy buckets.

King's Fork has gotten the ball inside effectively to Khadedra Croker, who got called for an early charge, but responded with some key buckets inside, plus an elbow area jumper. Chantel Roberts and Adrienna McCrary are getting some high percentage looks in the painted area as well.

4:05 PM: We're underway in the second Girls Basketball quarterfinal matchup in the Eastern Region Tournament at the Norfolk Scope. Unbeaten Lake Taylor, which won a state title back in 2010, has another group capable of making a deep run in the tournament like that squad did. Coach Saundra Sawyer watched her husband Hank led the football team to a football state title back in December and the Girls Hoops team has its eye on a second trophy come March.

King's Fork is led by its interior star, junior center Khadedra Croker, who can score, rebound and block shots with the best of them. Lake Taylor has the Eastern District Player of the Year in guard Feyonda Fitzgerald, who'll play her College Basketball at Temple. They have a host of others that are able to fill it up with Fitzgerald.

3:25 PM: It's in the books and the Woodside Lady Wolverines are heading to Sunday's Eastern Region Tournament semifinals. The reigning Eastern Region Champs await the winner of Lake Taylor/Kings' Fork.

GIRLS QUARTERS FINAL SCORE - - WOODSIDE 54, GRASSFIELD 45

Here are the Final Stats courtesy of Mike Whittington & STATVA (www.statva.com):

Final Stats:

Woodside Lady Wolverines 54: (26-1 Overall)
Adrienne Motley - - 20Pts. 5-21FG, 10-12FT, 8Reb. 3Ast. 2Stl.
Aianna Kelly - - 18Pts. 6-14FG, 6-9FT, 10Reb. (8Off.), 3Ast. 4Stl.
Kemonei Earp - - 6Pts. 2-5FG, 2-4FT, 11Reb.
DaQuila Washington - - 6Pts. 3-4FG, 5Reb.
Lady Wolverines - - 18-48FG, 0-1 3's, 18-27FT, 42Reb. 8Ast. 11TO's, 8Stl.

Grassfield Lady Grizzlies 45: (21-5 Overall)
Derika Sims - - 10Pts. 5-7FG, 5Reb.
Nola Anderson - - 10Pts. 5-14FG, 0-7 3's, 3Reb. 2Ast.
Felise Keys - - 10Pts. 4-10FG, 2-5 3's
Cortni Williams - - 9Pts. 4-12FG, 1-3Ft, 3Ast. 2Stl.
Lady Grizzlies - - 21-51FG, 2-14 3's, 1-4FT, 25Reb. 11Ast. 10TO's, 5Stl.

Postgame Audio with Woodside Lady Wolverines Coach Mike Tallon

Certainly the difference in the game for Woodside besides having two stars in Motley, a Top 100 prospect in the nation, and Kelly who can create their own shot was rebounding. They crashed the offensive glass for a 17-2 second chance points advantage and played really sound defensively down the stretch, committing only five personal fouls for the whole game. Their experience of playing in big games shined through down the stretch.

Up next it's undefeated Lake Taylor (23-0) taking on King's Fork (23-3) in a battle between the Eastern District Champion, both regular season and tournament, and the Southeastern District tourney Champ. Stay tuned!

3:15 PM: It looks like the reigning Eastern Region Champion Woodside Lady Wolverines will be moving to 26-1 overall and playing in the regional semifinals on Sunday against the winner of the next game between Lake Taylor/King's Fork.

It was deadlocked at 39-all in the fourth quarter with just under five minutes to play when Woodside closed strong on a 15-4 spurt, keyed by their two D-1 standouts in Adrienne Motley (Miami) and Ainna Kelly (Presbyterian). Those two combined for 38 points, 16 of which came from the free-throw line, as well as 18 rebounds, six assists and six steals.

Grassfield put three players in double-figures with Derika Sims, Nola Anderson and Felise Keys, but couldn't make enough outside shots to keep pace, going 0-for-4 in the second half from long distance.

My National Hoops Expert sitting next to me here courtside, Jonathan Watford, tells me the difference was second chance points. Woodside got 19 offensive rebounds, turning that into a 17-2 second chance points advantage. Once again, Jay was spot on with that analysis.

So Woodside gets a 54-45 victory. Back with some final numbers in a few . . . stay tuned!

3:00 PM: We're Baaaaack! It's Day 2of the Eastern Region High School Basketball Tournament quarterfinals at the Norfolk Scope, where the action will try to match what was a wild Wednesday, especially in the nightcap that saw an overtime thriller and a buzzer-beater.

Before we get to today's slate, here are the scores from Tuesday's quarterfinals in case you missed them.

Boys Quarters Final - - Hampton 50, Landstown 49 (OT)
Boys Quarters Final - - Great Bridge 54, Maury 42
Girls Quarters Final - - Princess Anne 70, Wilson 38
Girls Quarters Final - - Maury 51, Western Branch 42

See Wednesday's Live BLOG Here

As always, the region playoffs at Scope means we have some exciting basketball in store and you can stay tuned here to the site and my Hatfield Sports Twitter feed for Updates, Analysis, Stats and tons of reaction.

Let's go into the schedule and then go through the picks I have set. For the first round of the AAA Region Playoffs around the state, I went an unprecedented 28-0. That was followed by a rough 7-5 record in Round Two for the Central, Northern and Northwest Region, bringing my total mark to 35-5. Yesterday, I went 4-0 to go to 39-5 overall.

Thursday's Eastern Region Tournament Quarterfinals Schedule:

2:00 PM (Girls) - - #1 Woodside (25-1) vs. #3 Grassfield (21-4)
4:00 PM (Girls) - - #1 Lake Taylor (23-0) vs. #2 King's Fork (23-3)
6:00 PM (Boys) - - #3 Western Branch (18-8) vs. #1 Kecoughtan (23-4)
8:00 PM (Boys) - - #1 Norcom (17-7) vs. #2 King's Fork (22-4)

Hatfield's Picks:

Woodside Girls by 6, Lake Taylor Girls by 15
Kecoughtan Boys by 12, King's Fork Boys by 2

 

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 hatfieldsports2k4@yahoo.com, 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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