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February 24, 2013
LIVE Sunday Blog at Scope!
10:45 PM: Well, another day of Eastern Region Tournament Hoops is in the books and the 2013 tourney at the Norfolk Scope will come to a close on Monday night. Champions will be crowned, but regardless, four teams have moved on to the Group AAA State Tournament - - Great Bridge and Kecoughtan Boys, Lake Taylor and Princess Anne Girls.
Here's the lineup for Monday night . . .
PM Girls Championship - - #1 Lake Taylor (25-0) vs. #1 Princess Anne (27-1)
The Eastern Region Champions and runner-ups will face off against the Central Region in the State Tournament quarterfinals. Their title games are on Monday night as well with L.C. Bird playing Highland Springs in Girls for the Championship, followed by Henrico vs. John Marshall in the Boys Championship.
I'm 14-0 on my predictions on the Boys side in the Eastern Region Tournament and 41-5 in the entire state at the AAA level. Not included is my 4-2 mark on the Girls side. Below are my picks for Monday night . . .
What's interesting is that both of these matchups are re-matches from last year's regional tournament. A year ago, Kecoughtan defeated Great Bridge in the quarterfinals, 56-53. Kecoughtan has lost its last three Eastern Region Championship games (1994 to Churchland, 1995 to Indian River and 2012 to Hampton). The Warriors' last region title was in 1992.
Meanwhile, Princess Anne's Lady Cavs defeated Lake Taylor in the semifinals, 65-52. PA has won five straight meetings in the regional tournament over Lake Taylor, though the Lady Titans beat PA in their lone encounter in the State Tournament in 2010 in the State Championship game.
My VirginiaPreps.com colleague Rod Johnson, who has some Photo Galleries from these games you should check out on Facebook, will be Blogging Live on Monday night for the Eastern Region Championships while I do some TV work alongside John Castleberry for Cox 11.
9:30 PM: The Championship games in the Eastern Region are set for Monday night, before we get to that and a wrap-up let's review the Final Numbers from our pal Mike Whittington of STATVA (www.statva.com), one of the hardest working men in the business this week.
Kecoughtan Warriors 58:
Fork Bulldogs 48: (23-5 Overall)
Nothing is more impressive than Bullock's perfect 14-of-14 from the foul line. That's automatic, clutch, use whatever adjective you want to describe the highly skilled forward who's a matchup nightmare and a mismatch for whoever the Warriors play. Now, Kecoughtan's 16 turnovers, this coming one game after they turned it over 17 times in the quarters vs. Western Branch. However, their defense on the inside was great.
The Warriors out-rebounded King's Fork by a 2-to-1 ratio at 36-18 and gave the Bulldogs hardly any second chance opportunities. Having guys like Bullock, Kaelin Poe and Justin Lipscomb who are long and tall make it difficult to score in the painted area. Furthermore, Alexander's sharp second half along with Williams' spark off the bench for a second straight game gave the Warriors enough offensive punch.
King's Fork really had another fine season, losing for a second year in a row to a Peninsula District power in the regional semifinals that may go on to win the regional title and a State Championship. The Bulldogs had won 21 of their last 23 before this defeat ended their season. Foul trouble Taylor, Smith and Donte Ralph added up, and King's Fork couldn't get any easy baskets (only 2 fast-break points in the second half.).
9:22 PM: With 28.9 seconds to go, Greg Alexander drains two crucial free-throws for Kecoughtan, which is now up double-figures on King's Fork and appear headed to be State Tournament bound for a second year in a row. The Warriors are going to be moving on to Monday night's Eastern Region Championship against Great Bridge and improve their record to 25-4 overall. A wonderful season for King's Fork ends at 23-5 overall.
BOYS SEMIS FINAL - - KECOUGHTAN 58, KING'S FORK 48
Let's note that the crowd throughout the day here at Scope was much better than in the quarterfinals on Wednesday and Thursday. Overall, from the looks of it, the attendance was fairly strong.
Back with some Final Stats in a few . . . then we'll wrap up this Sunday evening!
9:15 PM: I must say that Kecoughtan is not closing this game on a vengeance like a State Championship caliber team should do as they continue to let King's Fork stay in this one. The Bulldogs trail Kecoughtan only 48-44 with 2:37 to go after Rod Parrett's two free-throws. It's not a matter either of the Warriors expended so much energy in the third quarter to get back in the game that fatigue is showing; they are just not handing the defensive pressure extremely well in terms of getting the ball in the right guy's hands.
Rajay Bullock makes two foul shots to push the Warriors to make it a six-point lead, followed by Greg Alexander's lay-up with 2:17 remaining. Jacorey Smith gets a steal though and King's Fork isn't out of it, but they're going to need a quick defensive stop or points off turnovers to stay in it with the Warriors up 56-48 now with 51.8 seconds left following two crucial field goals from super sub Lawrence Williams, who had a steal sandwiched in late here.
9:10 PM: The ball-handling and decision-making has been somewhat shaky for Kecoughtan's guards down the stretch here. They are letting King's Fork hang around in the game, and teams that do that (just ask Norcom the other night), tend to get burned every now and then. As long as the Warriors execute at the foul line though and get the necessary stops, they'll be in okay shape.
Kudos to freshman guard Deshaun Wethington - - love how the little guy, one of the area's football standouts to watch in years to come at running back - - competes. Sophomore point guard Marcell Haskett of Kecoughtan pushes the lead back to eight and then Rod Parrett makes two foul shots for King's Fork with 3:44 to go to make it 46-40.
Kecoughtan's lead is anything but safe right now. They have to continue to get the ball into the hands of Rajay Bullock to put this one away and clinch their State Tournament berth. Speaking of Bullock, he is headed to the foul line with 3:19 to play. Both Jacorey Smith and Byron Taylor, two of King's Fork's main seniors, have four fouls apiece. Taylor scores inside for King's Fork with 3:09 to play and the Kecoughtan lead is only six, 48-42.
9:05 PM: To start the fourth quarter, Kecoughtan's Rajay Bullock, the Providence signee and front-runner to be named Eastern Region Player of the Year, has started to take this game over. Bullock is affecting the game offensively, where he is scoring inside and outside, plus defensively, where he's making whoever shoots the ball for King's Fork have to fall away on their jumper.
Bullock scores the first two baskets of the fourth quarter and it's a 43-34 lead for Kecoughtan on King's Fork with six minutes to go. A basket here and the Warriors can probably ice this thing up double-figures nearing the five minute mark. They miss, Bullock blocks a shot at the other end, but Donte Ralph of King's Fork is Johnny on the Spot with the put-back. That trims the lead to 43-36.
Greg Alexander makes 1-of-2 at the foul line to push it up to 44-36. King's Fork really could use a three-point play, and it's Byron Taylor driving for the deuce and drawing the foul. Taylor makes the foul shot to cut the Kecoughtan advantage to 44-38 with 4:49 left. Taylor misses the free-throw. The Bulldogs are one basket away from making this thing very interesting. It's a long way from being over.
8:59 PM: Through three quarters, the Kecoughtan Warriors have taken the lead with a 18-7 spurt in that third period, keyed by their 1-2 punch of Rajay Bullock and Greg Alexander. The two future Division I players really stepped up their play like senior leaders are counted on during the postseason.
King's Fork has five seniors who have been here before and are hungry to get to the State Tournament, so they are sure to go on a run at some point in the fourth quarter. How Kecoughtan handles that and being able to keep their composure with the physical play, bump-and-grind style is vital to staying in front when the Bulldogs do go on a run.
8:54 PM: We're starting to see a much crisper looking Kecoughtan team this third quarter than the one we saw in the first half. Greg Alexander shows excellent elevation and a textbook release on a three-pointer that pushes the Warriors' lead to 35-30 with 2:22 to go in the third quarter on King's Fork.
Rajay Bullock needs to stop reaching though because he picked up his second foul and almost got his third in this quarter alone. However, it does indicate the two fouls this quarter he's been more aggressive these past few minutes. Bullock is starting to give King's Fork's energy guy and junkyard dog Byron Taylor some problems in the high post; Taylor has three fouls now with 1:04 to go in the third period.
Akanni White gets a much-needed floater to fall for King's Fork to cut the Kecoughtan lead to 35-32. Rod Parrett makes a shot at the rim after two Bullock free-throws. The Warriors will hold for the final possession of the quarter.
8:51 PM: Coach Josh Worrell of King's Fork recognizes his Bulldogs need a time-out and gets one with 3:41 to go in the third quarter as his team trails Kecoughtan 32-29. The Warriors are starting to get backdoor plays, action in the post and get to the foul line to disturb the pesky King's Fork defense. All the Bulldogs have to do is settle itself down, make sure they take care of the ball and go at the Kecoughtan bigs to try to get them in foul trouble.
A turnover by King's Fork out of the time-out is now what they needed as the Warriors look to extend their 11-2 run to begin the half. At the same time for the Warriors, they can't relax now that they've taken the lead because King's Fork is one of the best at pouncing on a team when they sense a sign of weakness or a team getting comfortable.
8:45 PM: Coach Ivan Thomas has to like what he's seen the first few minutes of this third quarter with Rajay Bullock (Providence) making a couple of free-throws and Greg Alexander (ECU) nailing a three-pointer to slice the King's Fork lead down to 27-26 at the 6:58 mark of the third quarter. It was a great play run by Kecoughtan where King's Fork doubled down on the post and they had Alexander on the same side, free to strike from 3.
Sophomore point guard Marcell Haskett, who battled foul trouble in the first half, gets an offensive rebound off a Bullock missed 3 and puts it in for two. Defensively, Kecoughtan has also gone to its trademark 2-3 matchup zone that has worked wonders for them in the second halves this year late in the season. Bullock drills a pair of free-throws and the Warriors are now in front, 30-29 on King's Fork.
Remember though, King's Fork was down nine with under five minutes to play in regulation in the quarterfinals of regionals versus Norcom and rallied. The Bulldogs aren't going away without a fight.
8:39 PM: The King's Fork Bulldogs have been hot as of late, winning 21 of their past 23 games with the only losses in that stretch coming against Great Bridge (who they might face on Monday night for the regional title) and Suffolk rival Nansemond River. They lead the regional tournament favorite, Kecoughtan at the break. Here are the numbers . . .
Stats at the Half:
So far, the Bulldogs have done an incredible job on defense against Bullock and Alexander. Kecoughtan must get those two guys going or they'll be in serious trouble. King's Fork is getting to the foul line more and holding their own on the boards against a team that is bigger and longer than them.
Turnovers have been a problem for both teams, and the team that makes the most mistakes will ultimately come up on the short end of the stick. Those wondering about King's Fork's legs shouldn't because they got two days of rest following that double-overtime comeback win over Norcom.
Kecoughtan has to extend the game and up the possessions though in order to win. Getting Bullock to the foul line consistently in the second half is important as is finding other ways to get Alexander points with his jump shot not falling (i.e. moving without the ball, pull-up J, getting to the foul line).
8:32 PM: Although Kecoughtan has come out flat offensively, they are still within striking distance and have a chance to heat up and take the lead in the second half. Sharp shooter Greg Alexander finally gets one to go from long range after missing his first four behind the arc to start the game. That three-pointer with 1:07 left in the second period cuts the King's Fork lead to 25-21.
With 18 seconds to go in the second quarter, freshman point guard Deshaun Wethington attacks the goal and dishes to an open Wallace McDowney underneath for two. That pushes the Bulldogs' lead to six. Rajay Bullock then misses two shots from close distance to close the half, and he's visibly frustrated as he and his teammates head to the locker room.
Half - - King's Fork 27, Kecoughtan 21
We'll have some stats in a few, stay tuned!
8:28 PM: As poor as Kecoughtan has played and as well as King's Fork has played, the Warriors are only down a point, 17-16 with three minutes to go in the first half, after junior reserve Brandon Tabb gets a steal, and Will Askew finds Kaelin Poe underneath for an easy deuce. On the play before that with 3:47 to go in the first half, Rajay Bullock gets his first points of the game at the free-throw line.
King's Fork takes momentum right back with senior guard Jacorey Smith scoring, then getting a steal and making 1-of-2 at the foul line. Another senior guard, Akanni White, makes perhaps one of the biggest shots of the first half with a three-point from straight away distance to push their lead back up to seven at 23-16 with 2:06 left in the second quarter.
Kecoughtan's Greg Alexander, one of the best shooters the state has to offer, still can't find the touch from deep. That will have to change for Kecoughtan to get back in this game and win to take on Great Bridge on Monday night for the region title.
8:22 PM: Major props to Coach Josh Worrell and company at King's Fork. The Bulldogs are playing some really physical, scrappy defense and Kecoughtan is totally out of rhythm offensively. The Warriors need someone other than Lawrence Williams (7 of their first 10 points), believe it or not, to give them some scoring punch. Will Askew hits a jumper near the top of the key to close the gap to 15-12.
The Bulldogs are continuing to pile up the fouls, the second coming no Williams and Ivan Thomas will leave his energizer in the game with 5:29 to go before intermission. King's Fork's energizer, Byron Taylor, continues to shadow Bullock, both on the perimeter and when he goes into the paint. Akanni White got his second field goal of the game moments ago and Rod Parrett converts a pair of free-throws to push the King's Fork lead to 17-12 with 4:50 to play in the first half.
8:15 PM: If you told Kecoughtan that neither Rajay Bullock (Providence signee) nor Greg Alexander (ECU) would have scored in the opening quarter, they might tell you that they are down a dozen. But the Warriors only trail by four as it appears King's Fork will hold for the quarter's final shot. The bad news is that Kecoughtan has turned it over at least eight times, which is more than they have points to this point.
Lawrence Williams is keeping Kecoughtan in the game, nabbing a steal and scoring a lay-up, cutting the King's Fork lead to 11-9. Driving to the cup before the horn sounds is King's Fork senior point guard Akanni White for a lay-up to push the Bulldogs lead up to four.
End 1stQ - - King's Fork 13, Kecoughtan 9
Bulldogs Coach Josh Worrell has to be pleased with the start and how Byron Taylor is defending Bullock, keeping him off the glass and getting in his chest early. As discouraging of a start as it has been for Kecoughtan, they are only down four with eight turnovers and neither of their two studs scoring.
8:11 PM: Needing some kind of offensive spark, guard Lawrence Williams gives it to Kecoughtan off the bench with a three-pointer as he continues to do his best Vinnie Johnson (ex-NBA player that was a super sub for the Detroit Pistons) or better yet, Travis Berry (going back to Coach Thomas' days at T.C. Williams) impression. Williams' three-pointer trims the King's Fork lead to 9-5 midway through the opening quarter.
King's Fork is doing a masterful job defensively of keeping the Kecoughtan bigs away from the basket, and in particular, tri-Player of the Year in the Peninsula District Rajay Bullock, who is scoreless thus far. Williams gets a lay-up to cut the Bulldogs' advantage down to 9-7, but the Warriors continue to turn it over. To beat King's Fork, you can't keep turning it over because they will capitalize.
Sophomore point guard Marcell Haskett picks up his second personal foul with just over two minutes to go in the first quarter and that will force Coach Thomas to go back to his bench.
8:05 PM: The action is underway here at the Norfolk Scope between Kecoughtan and King's Fork in the Eastern Region Tournament semifinals, where the winner gets to face Great Bridge. King's Fork is hoping it's an All-Southeastern District Final and to deny Kecoughtan a second straight State Tournament berth.
The Bulldogs are the aggressor in the opening minutes, up 8-2 on Kecoughtan barely two minutes into play as the Warriors have come out very sloppy and sluggish. Byron Taylor hits a three-pointer out of the gate and the Warriors' main three-point shooting weapon, Greg Alexander (ECU signee), has missed his first two from long distance. All-Southeastern District First Team selection Jacorey Smith adds to that lead with three points and Taylor gets a steal and deuce.
Kecoughtan is a turnover machine early on and Coach Ivan Thomas doesn't like what she's seen, taking his jacket off immediately. The Warriors have to settle down or else they'll be down double-figures.
7:50 PM: We've got Kecoughtan (24-4) vs. King's Fork (23-4) in the Eastern Region Tournament semis coming up in about 10 minutes here from the Norfolk Scope. The winner takes on Great Bridge, who knocked out last year's State Champ Hampton earlier today in the regional semifinals, in tomorrow night's Eastern Region Championship, which can be seen on television later on Cox 11 TV by the way.
Some Keys to Victory for this game for King's Fork - - keep Providence signee Rajay Bullock off the boards and out of the paint, crowd Greg Alexander's shooting space and get back in transition defensively.
For Kecoughtan, their Keys include - - make King's Fork a three-point shooting team, don't let them get to the foul line regularly and put Bullock or an integral starter in foul trouble and force the Warriors into some turnovers via the 2-2-1 full-court press.
Tip is 10 minutes away - - we'll be back momentarily!
7:15 PM: So Lake Taylor's Girls remain undefeated, edging Woodside in a thriller here at the Norfolk Scope in the Eastern Region Tournament Semis. The Lady Titans next take on Princess Anne's Girls, Monday night at 6:00 PM, in the Championship game of the Eastern Region.
Here are the numbers from Mike Whittington of STATVA (www.statva.com):
Taylor Lady Titans 52: (25-0 Overall)
Lady Wolverines 51: (26-2 Overall)
The three-point line was big for Lake Taylor, finishing +15 in that category despite losing the battle in Points in the Paint and Fast-Break Points to Woodside. Additionally, Lake Taylor turned it over just nine times and got a great effort on the offensive glass with 20 boards, 34 in total.
In the battle between stars in Motley and Fitzgerald, Motley had more points, but Fitzgerald made hers matter late with the go-ahead three-pointer and her team's undefeated season on the line. She deserves a ton of credit for her playmaking all year long. A great career in Motley, one of the best players in PD history, comes to a sad end. In the end, Fitzgerald's supporting cast with McKinney scoring and Mitchell-Harmel rebounding proved to be pivotal.
It's Lake Taylor moving on to play Princess Anne yet again in the regional title game. Those two programs have met several times over the years in the postseason, including back in 2010 when PA defeated them for the regional title and then Lake Taylor won when they squared off again for the state title. That rivalry will be renewed!
7:08 PM: WOW! An amazing sequence of events here and big shot making in this Woodside vs. Lake Taylor battle in the Girls Eastern Region Tournament Semis at the Norfolk Scope.
With 1:25 to play, Adrienne Motley buried a jumper to give Woodside a 51-49 lead on Lake Taylor. Back came Lake Taylor's star, Feyonda Fitzgerald, with a gigantic three-pointer with 1:07 remaining to give the Lady Titans a 52-51 lead.
Back-to-back steals by Courtney White of Lake Taylor and Ainna Kelly for Woodside, but then the Lady Wolverines are called for travelling with 28.8 seconds to go.
A Lake Taylor turnover occurs with 15.1 seconds left and that gives Woodside a chance to win it with the clock ticking down at the end. Motley pulls up on her jumper and it is short, but Kelly is there for the rebound, she can't get the shot to and then the ball flies out of bounds with 0.8 seconds left. Lake Taylor inbounds it down the court to Fitzgerald, the hero in this one, and the Lady Titans pull it out to stay undefeated.
GIRLS SEMIS FINAL - - LAKE TAYLOR 52, WOODSIDE 51
Back with some Final Stats and more . . . plus the nightcap in the Boys Eastern Region Semis with Kecoughtan taking on King's Fork - - stay tuned!
7:04 PM: Just a like a star is supposed to do and expected to do, Woodside's Adrienne Motley is taking charge down the stretch, hitting a three-point to knot the score up at 49-apiece with undefeated Lake Taylor in the Eastern Region Tournament Girls Semis.
Give credit to Ainna Kelly looking for her teammate for the big shot with the team down three. Jordan Mitchell-Harmel has given Lake Taylor some hustle points inside and at the free-throw line to keep Woodside at bay during this fourth quarter surge.
7:00 PM: Coach Mike Tallon of Woodside has seen enough and needs a time-out as undefeated Lake Taylor is taking control early in the fourth quarter, his Lady Wolverines 45-39 with 5:37 remaining.
Lake Taylor has scored seven straight with Courtney White draining a three-pointer and Feyonda Fitzgerald going coast-to-coast for a pretty lay-up. Adrienne Motley will need to take charge and bring her team back in this one against a stingy Lake Taylor defense.
Both teams survived tests in the quarterfinal round here at Scope with Lake Taylor getting past King's Fork in a tight battle, while Woodside outlasted Grassfield. Woodside has to get some second chance points and slow the game down by getting to the free-throw line to cut into this deficit.
Don't look now, but Woodside is slicing into that deficit and only down a whisker, 45-44, with 4:54 left after Kemonei Earp's put-back and Aianna Kelly (Presbyterian signee) gets a steal, drives for the bucket and draws the foul, where she converts a three-point play.
6:55 PM: What a great finish to the third quarter as the two stars in this one, Adrienne Motley for Woodside and Feyonda Fitzgerald of Lake Taylor, are starting to take over in this game.
Motley has 24 points and Fitzgerald has 18 points. But it's Fitzgerald hanging on to a slim lead over Woodside going to the fourth quarter.
End 3rdQ in Girls ER Semis - - Lake Taylor 38, Woodside 37
This game truly could go either way and it's hard to find an edge for either team that will decide the outcome. If a key player fouls out, that may swing the game. The battle on the boards in this last period is going to be crucial, too. Don't expect much to happen in transition because at this point the game will be won in the half-court for either squad.
6:48 PM: Breaking the tie for Woodside's Lady Wolverines is standout guard Adrienne Motley; the Peninsula District Player of the Year gets a bucket to give her 19 points and Woodside a 32-30 advantage. It's clear this afternoon why she's one of the Top 100 recruits in the country from the Class of 2013.
Woodside is having trouble getting stops though as Feyonda Fitzgerald calmly drives through the 2-3 zone defense for a stop-and-pop floater. The scored is deadlocked again, 32-all, with just under three minutes to go in the third quarter.
Lake Taylor converts a couple of free-throws and that gives them a 34-32 lead. The difference to me is that Fitzgerald has a #2 option to complement her better than Motley does at the moment. Aianna Kelly, battling foul trouble for Woodside, must step up in the fourth quarter. Endia McKinney has been a real key for Lake Taylor with 12 points and altering a few shots in the paint.
6:42 PM: Just three minutes into the third quarter and Woodside is still up five, 30-25, on Lake Taylor. The Lady Titans are starting to pick Woodside's pocket defensively as Endia McKinney gets a steal and then feeds it to Feyonda Fitzgerald for a bucket, plus the foul. Even worse for Woodside is that Aianna Kelly (Presbyterian signee), arguably their second best player, just picked up her third foul.
With 4:44 to go in the third quarter, it's Woodside up 30-27 on Lake Taylor and Fitzgerald has a free-throw to shoot. Foul trouble is going to loom largely in this one. Not only do you want to keep your star player (Motley for Woodside and Fitzgerald for Lake Taylor) away from fouls, but also don't let your opponent get in the bonus too early. McKinney ties the score at 30-all with 5:05 to go in the third period.
6:33 PM: At the break, Woodside's Girls have gained themselves a cushion on the undefeated Lady Titans of Lake Taylor. Can Lake Taylor rally and keep their undefeated season going?
Stats at the Half:
Taylor Girls 21:
The telling stats to me are that Lake Taylor has only eight points inside the three-point arc and just one steal on the evening. That's not enough if they expect it to advance to Monday night to play Princess Anne.
Lake Taylor must do a better job of containing Motley, the star of the game and perhaps the most dynamic player in the region and state. Woodside didn't convert a three-pointer in that first half and might need one or two to loosen up that Lake Taylor defense if the Lady Titans are able to get the ball out of Motley's hands and try to make someone else beat them.
6:25 PM: Late in the second quarter, Woodside is clinging to a 22-21 lead on Lake Taylor in what has been more of a defensive struggle this period compared to the opening quarter that was more of a shoot-out.
Woodside got some really good play from Kemonei Earp in the first and second quarter; if she can continue that in the second half and give them boards as well as points, they have to feel great about their chances. Aianna Kelly is crashing the glass well, too, even though she's not been a big factor in the offensive game-plan to this point.
Kyara Cooper, a sophomore guard, struck from three-point land to give Lake Taylor a 20-18 lead with 4:45 to go in the second quarter. Since then, Mike Tallon's Lady Wolverines have tightened the defensive screws and done a really good job of keeping Feyonda Fitzgerald out of the lane.
6:19 PM: An entertaining first quarter is in the books in the Eastern Region Tournament Girls Semis and it was a good flow all the way around.
End 1stQ - - Woodside 16, Lake Taylor 15
A nice way to bounce back out of the time-out Coach Saundra Sawyer called for Lake Taylor as they have been able to stretch the defense with their outside shooting. But Woodside is breaking the Lake Taylor press rather easy, at least they aren't showing any fear of it at this point.
Star Watch - - Adrienne Motley has 10 points in the opening quarter for Woodside compared to 7 points by Lake Taylor's Feyonda Fitzgerald. Both of these players are capable of going for 30-plus in this one, and as a fan, I'd love to see it, and for the game come right down to the wire.
6:13 PM: Woodside comes out of the gate looking very sharp on the offensive end with Miami-bound guard Adrienne Motley scoring five early points. Feyonda Fitzgerald has all five of Lake Taylor's points as they game is deadlocked before Woodside goes on a mini-run, sparked by transition play. Lake Taylor will call a time-out and try to re-group, trailing 11-5 with 3:40 to go in the opening quarter.
Kemonei Earp, a junior forward, has been a real plus for Woodside so far with her ability to score around the basket. Lake Taylor comes right back with Endia McKinney, a junior forward, strikes with a pair of three-pointers and suddenly the Lady Titans are on top of the Wolverines 15-14.
6:07 PM: We are underway in the Girls Eastern Region Hoops Semis between defending Eastern Region Champ Woodside (26-1) and Eastern District Champ Lake Taylor (24-0). The winner gets Princess Anne in Monday night's regional title game. Also, the winner grabs a berth in the AAA State Tournament.
Keys for Lake Taylor are as follows - - keep Adrienne Motley (Miami bound) out of the paint, make it a three-point shooting battle and win the battle at the free-throw line.
For Woodside, they need to be able to contain the Lady Titans' Feyonda Fitzgerald (Temple commit), break the pressure effectively and get Lake Taylor's post players in foul trouble.
5:45 PM: Here are the Final Stats from Great Bridge's semifinal victory over the defending State Champion Hampton Crabbers in the Eastern Region Tournament courtesy of Mike Whittington & STATVA (www.statva.com):
Bridge Wildcats 67: (24-3 Overall)
Crabbers 60: (22-7 Overall)
5:35 PM: It is now in the books and the Great Bridge Wildcats are headed to the Group AAA State Tournament for the first time since 1958 after defeating the 2012 State Champion Hampton Crabbers in the semifinals of the Eastern Region Tournament at the Norfolk Scope.
BOYS SEMIS FINAL - - GREAT BRIDGE 67, HAMPTON 60
We'll have some Final Stats in a few, don't go anywhere because two more games await in the semifinals with Woodside vs. Lake Taylor in Girls Hoops and King's Fork vs. Kecoughta in Boys Hoops.
5:28 PM: With 21.3 seconds to play, all Great Bridge needs to do to punch its ticket to the Group AAA State Tournament is sink some free-throws. Jeff Barnes, a backup guard and unheralded player for Hampton who plays some very tough defense, just picked up his fourth foul for the Crabbers.
Byron Williams makes two at the foul line to push the Great Bridge lead to 65-58 here n the regional semifinals at the Norfolk Scope. Jordan Baker, the ODU signee who has had such a wonderful career in a Hampton uniform, drives coast-to-coast for a bucket, draws the foul misses, the free-throw, but it's a jump-ball for the rebound and possession arrow to Great Bridge.
The Wildcats still lead Hampton 65-60 with 12.9 seconds to play.
5:23 PM: Coach Gary Obenour has talked about the "iron-will," of the Great Bridge Wildcats the entire 2012-13 campaign and it's never been more prevalent than now. The Wildcats lead the defending State Champs 63-56 with 43.7 seconds left, and barring a comeback for the ages, Hampton's season will be ending today at 22-7 overall without a repeat or return to the State Playoffs.
Center Steve Bienlien made another critical defensive play underneath the basket and then Marcus Evans went coast-to-coast for a lay-up to push the lead up to five. Bienlien followed suit with some free-throws to extend the advantage to seven.
Great Bridge's offense has done everything you could ask for against a gritty, hard-nosed team like Hampton that defensively is able to bottle up some of the best offenses in the state (see their wins over Henrico, Petersburg, Nansemond River, etc. for example).
5:17 PM: Hampton is on the comeback trail, and when that's the case, the other team is in trouble. That team is Great Bridge, trying to make its first trip to the State Playoffs in 55 years. The Wildcats lead Hampton 59-56 with 2:09 to play after Mark Madison's huge three-pointer off a dish from Marcus Evans.
Evans has committed two offensive charging fouls and Great Bridge as a team has three of them in this fourth quarter alone. Late in the fourth quarter, Evans will be playing with four fouls and Gary Obenour's squad cannot afford to have him foul out in this one.
Hampton tied it with 3:04 to play on a basket inside from their undersized, yet high-motor forward Sammie Royal versus the 6-foot-7 Steve Bienlien, who has been swatting away several shots today and all year long.
5:09 PM: To start the fourth quarter, Anthony Barber delivers another crushing blow to Great Bridge with a three-pointer to cut the lead to 47-44. Andre Banks answers with a cold-blooded three-pointer; he's got 14 points despite three fouls. Great Bridge has been extremely clutch in the fourth quarter all season long, but they now have to defeat the ultimate clutch team in crunch time, Hampton, to keep their dream season alive.
Momentum is beginning to swing to Hampton again after Jordan Baker hits a three-pointer to cut the Great Bridge lead down with 6:02 to play. Marcus Evans scores with 4:49 to go in the fourth quarter to push the Wildcats' advantage up to six. Baker responds only eight seconds later with a move to the bucket, field goal and connects at the foul line for a three-point play.
Great Bridge's lead is slim now, only 56-53 with 4:41 remaining.
5:03 PM: Great Bridge is in the lead still on Hampton, but not before Anthony 'Cat' Barber, the McDonald's All-American guard headed to NC State for the Crabbers, put TWO defenders of the Wildcats in the spin cycle with a bucket.
End 3rdQ - - Great Bridge 47, Hampton 41
Hampton has had some memorable comebacks, including one just three nights ago, in the playoffs. Are they capable of doing it one more time to advance back to the Group AAA State Tournament?
4:58 PM: Cat-quick guard Anthony Barber is showing that burst along the baseline; the NC State signee has a great presence of mind to never step out of bounds, know his surroundings well and use tremendous body control. The Crabbers are starting to have some success against that zone defense Great Bridge is utilizing, getting the flasher to come across the middle rather well.
Speaking of that, Barber hits a pull-up jumper with 1:03 to play to trim Great Bridge's lead to 46-39. The question now becomes more defensively than offensively for Hampton. Will the Crabbers be able to slow down the perimeter trio of Marcus Evans, Byron Williams and Andre Banks of Great Bridge? Right now, Banks and Evans are on the bench for the Wildcats and they have two others joining Williams on the perimeter in junior Mark Madison and sophomore Aaron Ferguson.
4:52 PM: Great Bridge is executing so well on the offensive end, and Hampton's coaches, Eric Brown and Walter Brower aren't liking what they are seeing. The Wildcats are being patient, yet persistent. Aaron Ferguson makes 1-of-2 at the foul line and the Crabbers call a time-out, trailing 44-33 with 3:39 to play in the third quarter.
Marcus Evans has been very smooth with the ball in his hands, making all the right plays, scoring it and finding his teammates. And he's doing it against two of the state's premier guards in Anthony Barber and Jordan Baker. Defensively, Evans is coming up with steals as well.
Hampton was in major trouble the other night in the regional quarterfinals before Baker saved them in overtime against Landstown. Finishing strong is a must against a team with the heart, desire and toughness that Hampton possesses.
4:46 PM: To begin the second half, Hampton comes out with an angry look in its eye and they don't want their dream of a state title repeat to end. Sammie Royal (a.k.a. Sammie the Bull) for Hampton with a great move inside to trim into Great Bridge's lead. But the Wildcats aren't fazed one bit as junior guard Marcus Evans drains a three-pointer, hits 1-of-2 at the foul line and comes up with a steal.
Hampton's Daquin Moore hits a big shot in the middle against that zone defense; that's going to be there when the ball goes to the corner. It cuts the Great Bridge lead to 40-33. The Wildcats come right back with great composure and patience on the offensive end, going to their mismatch advantage in 6-foot-7 center Steve Bienlien, who heads to the foul line to shoot two. He makes 1-of-2.
Great Bridge's two lefties, Bienlien and Andre Banks, continue to make key plays for the Wildcats. Every time Banks gets the ball it seems he's able to get his defender where he wants them to get his shot off effectively.
4:42 PM: Through two quarters of play, it's the Great Bridge Wildcats leading the Hampton Crabbers by seven and they are just 16 minutes of play away if they can hold this lead from making it to the Group AAA State Tournament for the first time since 1958.
Stats at the Half:
Great Bridge is getting a lot of good action going to the basket right now on offense and Hampton's defense has to make them take some tougher, contested 3's to cut into this lead. The Wildcats have kept Baker and Sammie Royal in check; just 4 points on 1-of-6 shooting combined.
Banks has been the key along with Williams shooting the ball for Great Bridge. Hampton's role players have to step up and help out Barber and Perry, who have done almost all of the scoring for the Crabbers. If Great Bridge continues to execute well and not get bothered by the Hampton defense and turn it over, they have to like their chances of moving on to Monday night's region title game.
4:37 PM: So we've reached half-time here at the Norfolk Scope and Great Bridge Coach Gary Obenour has to be thrilled in how his team is executing their game-plan, really getting high-percentage shots and doing an adequate job of containing Hampton's guards on dribble penetration.
Half - - Great Bridge 36, Hampton 29
Some half-time numbers in a couple minutes!
4:31 PM: Great Bridge is making a lot of timely shots right now, specifically the likes of senior wings Byron Williams and Andre Banks. Hampton doesn't have the amount of shooters to match, but they do have defensive grit, heart and a Championship pedigree that means they won't be going away any time soon in this one.
Williams and Banks have connected on the last three shots to give Great Bridge a 34-29 lead on Hampton, which is going to need to create some turnovers and get points off of it to answer the Wildcats.
With 4.8 seconds left in the second quarter, junior guard Marcus Evans showed great poise, reading the defense and then attacking the hole with a very good defender in Jordan Baker checking him. Evans draws the foul, sinks a pair of free-throws and the Wildcats extend their lead to 36-29 on a 13-3 run to close the half.
Before the end of the half though, Great Bridge sophomore guard Aaron Ferguson was whistled for a foul, but it was a good one because it made Hampton have to inbound again and they couldn't get Anthony 'Cat' Barber down the floor quick enough for a shot; Barber actually lost control of the ball and turned it over.
4:24 PM: With 5:34 to go in the second quarter, Hampton is clinging to a 23-21 lead on Great Bridge in a very competitive, back-and-forth battle with a State Tournament berth at stake. Steve Bienlien ties the score at 23-all on a pair of free-throws for the Wildcats.
Hampton has made a defensive switch on Andre Banks, who is now being guarded by ODU football signee Daquin Moore, a long and rangy athlete who comes off the bench and provides some hustle plays for the Crabbers. Hampton also is going to its bench and using Jeff Barnes at the guard spot to complement Anthony 'Cat' Barber and Jordan Baker, who moments ago had a big steal and lay-up.
Meanwhile, the Great Bridge Wildcats have gone to a switch defensively from man-to-man to zone. We'll see how that affects things going forward. Rebounding out of it will be one of the main priorities.
4:17 PM: Hampton has composed itself after the 7-0 Great Bridge run and forced the Wildcats into a couple of questionable shots late in the first quarter. The Crabbers have a no-nonsense look about them and they scored the final four points of the first quarter to claim the lead going into the second quarter, where both teams have only been whistled for one foul apiece, although the one for Great Bridge was on 6-foot-7 center Steve Bienlien; one of the keys in this game.
End 1stQ - - Hampton 16, Great Bridge 15
Tre Perry, a senior forward for the Hampton Crabbers with improved shooting range this season, has been vital for them with seven points in the opening period. Barber also has seven through one quarter of play. For Great Bridge, Andre Banks has six points being guarded by Sammie Royal and Byron Williams has five.
4:13 PM: We've got a great pace to start in this one. NC State signee Anthony 'Cat' Barber, the McDonald's All-American selection who was the State Player of the Year a season ago, comes out with the game's first jumper, sticking a pull-up jumper just inside the arc. Barber has a very determined look about him to start.
Great Bridge doesn't panic after a quick deficit and a Barber three-point that puts the Crabbers up 7-4. Byron Williams of Great Bridge finds a cutting Andre Banks open for a deuce underneath the bucket out of a trap. Hampton has been very aggressive defensively, showing some traps in the early going.
Tre Perry has been a key and potential x-factor for Hampton with seven points in this opening quarter, including a timely three-pointer that gave the Crabbers a 10-6 advantage. Back comes Great Bridge though behind Marcus Evans' basket and a Williams three-pointer to give the Wildcats a 13-10 lead on a 7-0 run.
Williams might be the best rebounder for his size (only about 6-foot-tall) in the region; his put-back makes it 15-12 in favor of the cats late in the opening quarter.
4:05 PM: We're about to tip-off in the first Boys Eastern Region Tournament semifinal matchup of the day between the reigning State Champion Hampton Crabbers (22-6) and the Southeastern District regular season Champion Great Bridge Wildcats (23-3). The winner gains an automatic State Tournament berth and will play either Henrico or John Marshall in the State Quarters, but before that, will take on the winner of the game later on tonight between Kecoughtan and King's Fork in Monday's Eastern Region Championship.
Keys for Great Bridge are simple - - keep Anthony 'Cat' Barber (NC State signee) and Jordan Baker (ODU signee) out of the lane, force Hampton to beat you with 3's and get a spark off the bench from someone, most likely Aaron Ferguson.
Meanwhile for Hampton, they want to contain Southeastern District Player of the Year Marcus Evans for the Wildcats, get offensive rebounds and contest Great Bridge's three-point looks.
3:40 PM: It's now in the books and the Princess Anne Lady Cavaliers are headed to the Group AAA State Tournament for a sixth consecutive year, defeating the Maury Lady Commodores in the Eastern Region Tournament Girls semifinals. For Maury, their season comes to a close at 21-6 overall, falling in the regional semis for a second year in a row.
Here are the numbers to review from this one from Mike Whittington of STATVA (www.statva.com):
Anne Lady Cavaliers 48: (27-1 Overall)
Lady Commodores 33: (21-6 Overall)
Cooper absolutely grabbed the game by the throat in the second half in scoring all 20 of her points to take command and help PA pull away from Maury. The Lady Cavs had a 9-0 advantage in blocks and defensively held Maury to just 21.8% shooting from the field. Their bench gave them 12 points and Maury's played didn't really factor in the game much at all.
Hicks got worn out for Maury, but she'll be a great player and perhaps a record setter before she graduates. The Lady Commodores didn't get enough points from the three-point line to off-set the advantage PA had inside. In the second half, PA was +15 on the glass after being +1 at the break and that was one of the things that allowed them to separate.
A matchup against Woodside or Lake Taylor will be mighty fascinating in Monday night's Girls Eastern Region Championship.
Don't go anywhere because up next it's Great Bridge vs. Hampton in the Boys Eastern Region Semis here from Scope!
3:30 PM: The Princess Anne Lady Cavaliers are moving on the Eastern Region Championship game on Monday night where they will take on the winner of Woodside/Lake Taylor.
GIRLS SEMIS FINAL - - PRINCESS ANNE 48, MAURY 33
3:22 PM: Foul shooting has not helped Maury out a ton as they are 7-of-15 thus far. The Lady Cavs have played a much better second half offensively.
Morgan Cooper continues to take control of this second half for Princess Anne with 20 of her team's first 24 points this half after not scoring in the first half. She's had a remarkable 16-mintue stretch of basketball to put her team on her back.
The Lady Cavs lead it 41-29 with 2:45 remaining and Janayla White will head to the free-throw line to shoot a pair.
3:17 PM: Although Maury's girls are fighting to the finish line, they are getting very winded. Their main standouts, particularly Chanette Hicks and Gianna Smith, haven't had much of a chance to catch their breath, whereas Princess Anne comes at people in waves.
Additionally, PA's defense has done a very effective job of being physical with Hicks on any of her drives or whenever she catches the basketball. That has certainly taken a toll one of the Eastern Region's top players.
3:10 PM: These two themes from this game so far have been the D's, that's defense and depth. Princess Anne's Lady Cavs have gotten some significant contributions from their subs to steady the ship, while defensively they have contained Maury's two main perimeter players, Gianna Smith and Chanette Hicks, to a combined 11 points.
Defensively, PA has held Maury to 8-of-39 shooting from the field and gotten to the foul line a good deal. Morgan Cooper has really raised her play in the second half after a scoreless first half for the Lady Cavs.
Barring a remarkable comeback, Princess Anne will be playing for a tenth regional title under Coach Darnell Dozier come Monday night against the winner of Woodside/Lake Taylor later on today. Woodside has played Princess Anne each of the past two years in the regional title game, beating the Lady Cavs last year and losing to them in 2011.
3:03 PM: Foul trouble is starting to add up for Princess Anne. Freshman guard Danyael Goodhope just got whistled for her fourth personal foul with 3:02 left in the third quarter. Princess Anne has six team fouls with over two minuets to go in the third period.
A couple of tremendous drives to the cup by Morgan Cooper has given Princess Anne the lead and some breathing room, ahead 31-24 with under a minute to go in the third quarter.
End 3rdQ - - Princess Anne 31, Maury 24
2:56 PM: To start the third quarter, both teams come out with a great amount of energy and intensity. Princess Anne's offense in the half-court looks a little crisper as they are spreading the floor well to get pretty good shots that are starting to fall.
The three-point shot is the great equalizer and Maury drills one midway through the period to give them some momentum. Maury now leads Princess Anne 24-23 with under four minutes to go in the third quarter.
2:41 PM: Here are some numbers at the break in the Eastern Region Tournament Girls Semis at the Norfolk Scope between Maury and Princess Anne courtesy of Mike Whittington and STATVA (www.statva.com):
Stats at the Half:
Princess Anne didn't have a finish to the half that Coach Dozier would like, but they are in the lead thanks to White's work on the boards and defensively. They have bottled up Maury's star player, Hicks, who nearly had a triple-double in the quarterfinals vs. Western Branch. Their bench seems to be a little bit better with seven points off the pine, giving them a much-needed offensive lift after a sluggish start.
Maury wants to keep this game in transition because in my opinion their odds of winning are better. Make PA beat you from the outside because they may not be able to do so. One of the keys coming in was staying close on the boards and PA is only +1, which Coach Woods will take. Maury has to find a way to get Hicks on track, and more importantly, get her to the foul line and get one of PA's front-line players in foul trouble. Remember, Hicks got to the foul line 17 times last time.
2:36 PM: It was an exciting end to the first half between Maury and Princess Anne Girls here in the regional semifinals at the Norfolk Scope. Princess Anne led 15-7 after a 13-0 run to begin the second quarter. Maury didn't get its first points of the second period until 1:24 left in the first half on free-throws from Gianna Smith.
Maury then went to its full-court press and it forced some turnovers by PA.
2:26 PM: Coach Darnell Dozier's Lady Cavaliers of Princess Anne have turned up the heat and are playing some suffocating defense of their own, doing an excellent job of clogging the middle on drives by Maury's guards. The Lady Commodores have also settled from jumpers that aren't falling for them.
After a horrendous 1-for-12 shooting start by the Lady Cavs, PA has been able to get to the free-throw line a few times and gone on a 10-0 run, keyed by baskets from Danyael Goodhope and Edley Drawhorn.
Alexis Platt's bucket off a steal pushes the PA lead to 14-7 with 3:05 to go before half-time. Maury has given up 12 unanswered points and better finds its offense before the break or else it might be too late.
2:18 PM: The defense by Coach Woods' gals from Maury has been superb. They are challenging everything Princess Anne throws up.
End 1stQ - - Maury Girls 7, Princess Anne 2
Eventually, you would expect Princess Anne to heat up and turn things around in a hurry. Two straight buckets from Gianna Smith, a sophomore guard with D-1 potential that goes by the nickname of 'Gigi,' increased the lead from one to five on PA.
To start the second quarter though, Princess Anne pulls within a possession down as junior guard Justyce Swango, drains a three-pointer to cut Maury's lead to 7-5. Maury leads it by five despite shooting 3-for-15 from the field to open the game. It is a defensive slugfest to say the least.
2:10 PM: Maury Lady Commodores Head Coach Jermaine Woods, who won a state title as an assistant on the Boys side with Booker T. Washington back in 2006, has to like the start his team is off to, leading Princess Anne 3-2 as we near the midway mark o the first quarter. On the flip side though, his team has had its chances to increase the lead and failed to do so to this point.
For Princess Anne, they are missing a lot of shots at or near the rim, which you would figure is going to change for the Lady Cavs. PA is doing a good job of getting the ball out of Chanette Hicks' hands. The Lady Cavs' first field goal wax scored by freshman Gadiva Hubbard, a guard that Coach Dozier says is going to be their next great prospect at PA.
2:04 PM: We're about to tip-off in the first Girls semifinal between Maury (21-5), the #2 seed out of the Eastern District, and Princess Anne (26-1), Champions of the Beach once again looking for a regional title, which would be #10 under Coach Darnell Dozier. The winner plays in tomorrow night's Championship game of the Eastern Region between the winner of Lake Taylor/Woodside later today.
The Keys for Maury are simple - - don't turn the ball over, let Chanette Hicks be a playmaker at the guard spot whether it's coring or distributing and stay even or close to it with Princess Anne on the boards.
For PA, they have to be able to make someone other than Hicks beat them, use their bench and depth to their advantage and dominate in the painted area.
Maury strikes first on a three-pointer from junior guard Jayda Luckie to grab a quick 3-0 lead.
1:50 PM: Howdy folks, and welcome to a special Sunday edition of the LIVE Hoops Blog on VirginiaPreps.com. Why are we doing it on a Sunday you ask? Well, it's the 2013 Eastern Region Tournament Semifinals being played on a Sunday instead of a Saturday because the Admirals' hockey team had to play a game on Saturday night here at the Norfolk Scope.
Two Boys Basketball teams and two Girls Basketball teams will be punching their ticket to the Group AAA State Tournament, completing the field for the State Playoffs. However, we won't know where those teams are seeded until Championship Monday night.
Let's get to the matchups for today and predict some winners.
PM (Girls) - - #2 Maury (21-5) vs. #1 Princess Anne (26-1)
So far, I'm 16-0 on picks in this Eastern Region Tournament, 12-0 on the Boys side and 43-5 overall in the AAA playoffs across the state. This might be my best predicting year yet since joining VirginiaPreps.com in 2004, but let me tell everyone that I'm due for a bad day.
Girls by 1, Woodside Girls by 2
I will readily admit that I'm more likely to get the Girls games wrong, both of them, than the Boys, although I'm making an unpopular pick by projecting Great Bridge to oust the reigning State Champion Crabbers of Hampton.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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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