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March 4, 2013
LIVE AAA Final Four Blog - Session 1
6:00 PM: Well, that's going to do it for Session 1 of the VHSL Group AAA State Tournament Hoops Blog here on VirginiaPreps.com. It's time for me now to get some food and rest up for the next set of games, which will commence at 7:00 PM when Princess Anne Girls will take on Stonewall Jackson, followed by John Marshall Boys face Wakefield in the Final Four.
5:00 PM: Here are the Final Numbers from Central Region Champ Henrico's victory over Northern Region Champ W.T. Woodson in the Boys AAA Hoops State Tournament Semis at the Verizon Wireless Arena at the Siegel Center on the campus of VCU.
Warriors 75: (29-2 Overall)
Woodson Cavaliers 65: (25-5 Overall)
Just looking at the numbers, most all of the stat categories were much even other than shooting percentage as Henrico hit on 54.3% compared to 38.6% for W.T. Woodson. Even bigger was the blistering 7-of-9 on 3's by Henrico, while Woodson shot just 30.4% from long distance. Jones had the perfect shooting night at 8-of-8, plus handed out five assists compared to only one turnover. That's about as efficient as it gets right there.
Woodson didn't get the typical shooting nights from Stepka and Alex Boock, which made things difficult, but they didn't turn it over a ton and won the battle on the boards by two. Amazingly, Henrico didn't attempt a single there-pointer in the second half, which shows they were looking to attack the goal as much as possible, leading to 25 free-throw attempts, 21 of them in the second half.
Both of these teams are extremely well coached, which as we touched on in the Preview, is a credit to Vance Harmon at Henrico and his staff as well as Doug Craig at Woodson and his staff. They're also senior-laden; Woodson loses eight and will dearly miss the likes of Stepka, Murray and Hansler, who played tremendous (and is under recruited), along with some others. They do have Bowles back and he's a point guard to watch out for in the future.
Henrico is poised to win it all in my opinion after watching them adapt from playing one style of team in Kecoughtan to a totally opposite in Woodson without having any real serious lull at any point in the game. Their 25-12 second quarter was sparked by the reserves in Pearson and Moses, and their senior leadership of Jones, Talley and Smith carried them home. Whoever plays them for the title on Friday night, John Marshall or Wakefield, will have to be at the top of its game to defeat them by my estimation.
4:45 PM: Back to the foul lien with 19.3 seconds left goes All-Central Region First Team pick Timmy Jones for Henrico. Jones swishes a pair to push the Warriors' lead to 74-65 on W.T. Woodson.
We've seen two real worthy teams battle it out in this one, and in the battle of styles, Henrico's was just a bit stronger when the fourth quarter rolled around. The game has pretty much gone as I expected, figuring Woodson would be able to stay close and give a good fight for three quarters, though in the end, just too much speed and dribble penetration for Henrico.
Coach Craig empties out his bench and the Woodson fans that made the trip down give a well deserved round of applause for their seniors that exit, and in particular the forward duo of Tommy Stepka and Peter Murray.
Henrico prevails and will be moving on to Friday night's State Championship versus either John Marshall or Wakefield.
BOYS AAA HOOPS SEMIS FINAL - - HENRICO 75, W.T. WOODSON 65
Back with some Final Stats in a little bit - - don't go anywhere!
4:37 PM: Trying to ice it at the foul line, Timmy Jones makes 1-of-2 with 38 seconds left for Henrico to increase their lead to 71-61. Rather quickly, W.T. Woodson responds with Michael Hansler scoring down at the other end for the Cavs to cut the deficit to eight with 31.2 seconds left.
The fan sections for both schools, W.T. Woodson and Henrico, have made for an electric atmosphere here at the Siegel Center. Have to give them a shout-out because the action in this one has truly been nonstop at least it feels that way.
Hansler just fouled out for Woodson, but he's nothing to be ashamed of; he's played excellent in this one. He's one of eight seniors that Coach Doug Craig is going to miss dearly as the Northern Region Champion Cavs will close out a marvelous 25-5 season in a loss to Henrico here in the Final Four. They just ran out of gas at the end, and Henrico's ability to push tempo and get to the rim almost seemingly at will was one of the main differences here today.
4:32 PM: All Henrico has to do is protect the basketball, close out on three-point shooters and convert free-throws to hang on and move to the next round.
Leading by five approaching the two minute mark, Henrico looks to kill some clock and then it's guard Jordon Talley finding Stephen Booker open for the deuce on a wonderful pass. The Henrico guards make so many big-time plays. Even though they aren't huge in stature and getting D-1 looks, they have enormous sized hearts and lay it on the line every possession for their team.
Henrico can smell a date in Friday night's AAA title game at 9 PM at the Siegel Center against the winner of John Marshall/Wakefield.
4:27 PM: We're seeing superb play on both sides in this one as W.T. Woodson gets closer on a pair of free-throws by Mike Hansler to bring them down just three, 58-55, with 4:49 left to play. Mr. Utility, Stephen Booker, gets a basket inside the painted area for Henrico and is fouled. Booker's hoop pushes it back up to a five-point lead for Henrico.
The Warriors extend their advantage as it is Marvin Smith Jr. sinking a couple of free-throws and Timmy Jones continuing his brilliant postseason with a floater to give Henrico a 64-56 lead after Eric Bowles made 1-of-2 at the foul line for W.T. Woodson.
W.T. Woodson won't be out-worked at all in this one as it's Peter Murray with the blue-collar, old-fashioned three-point play to trim a Henrico lead to 64-59 with 3:38 left to go in the game. Following that, it's Mike Hansler drawing a charge for Woodson, but the Cavs miss a couple of golden opportunities to draw closer and that could ultimately sting them. Woodson has missed a handful of shots right around the rim as fatigue is setting in I believe.
4:20 PM: To begin the fourth quarter, Henrico goes to its two star guards, Tim Jones and Jordon Talley, for offensive production and they deliver with buckets to push the Warriors' advantage to 56-48 on a resilient W.T. Woodson bunch.
With 6:16 to go in the fourth quarter, it's Tommy Stepka striking on a three-point shot for W.T. Woodson to trim that deficit to five and then Jones scores again to make it 58-51 for Henrico.
The Warriors lead it by seven with 5:30 remaining.
4:13 PM: With W.T. Woodson having a chance to pull within a possession down, trailing Henrico 50-45 with a minute left in the third quarter, sophomore point guard Eric Bowles is called for an offensive foul as he goes into the teeth of the defense. Woodson's fan Calvary wanted a basket and-one. I'm not so sure about that call to be honest (a little on the questionable side perhaps).
Bowles made an extra dribble on that drive that he might not have needed, but Coach Doug Craig does not like the call and lets the referee that made the call hear his opinion as he walk by him on the other end. That was a big swing for Woodson as it could've brought them within there and instead they could go down seven with 24.1 seconds to play in this third quarter as Jordon Talley will shoot at pair of free-throws.
Tally makes the foul shots, but at the buzzer it's Peter Murray swishing a three-pointer from way downtown. We've got a good one here at the Siegel Center!
End 3rdQ - - Henrico 52, W.T. Woodson 48
4:05 PM: We get a time-out in the action with Henrico ahead 50-42 with 3:07 to go in the third quarter on W.T. Woodson as the Cavs are starting to slowly but surely inch their way closer. Mike Hansler is making some plays on offense for Woodson with 11 points, and also with 11 is sophomore guard Eric Bowles, who continues to impress and play with poise against two of the best Central Region guards in Jordon Talley and Timmy Jones.
Marvin Smith Jr. misses a couple of free-throws and Woodson has a chance to get closer late in the third quarter. They do as Bowles penetrates and kicks to an open Peter Murray for 3 - - it's only a 50-45 lead now for Henrico with 1:58 to go in the third quarter. The Woodson fan section, which has been amazing (it looks like a scene out of 'Hoosiers' folks), is starting to really roar its approval. Henrico's fan section - - strong, but not quite has big - - has made plenty of noise today at the Siegel Center, too.
3:59 PM: To start the second half, W.T. Woodson goes on a 6-0 run and does so with Mike Hansler, Eric Bowles and Peter Murray all getting in the scoring column. That's just the way they needed to begin the third quarter, but Coach Vance Harmon at the other end is not liking what he sees, asking for a time-out less than a minute into the quarter and the Henrico lead down to 42-35.
Out of the time-out, Henrico gets back to what they do best and that is run, run and run some more, plus attacking the basket with multiple ball-handlers and all five guys on the floor crashing the glass, particularly senior Marvin Smith Jr. and freshman De'Monte Buckingham, an unsung performer that has really stepped up once again today.
A pull-up jumper is canned by Stephen Booker after a Smith put-back, and Jordon Talley swats a three-point attempt in the corner for W.T. Woodson. A long miss and all of the sudden Henrico is back up double-figures, 48-36. Bowles finds Peter Murray for a three-pointer and things are tightening up again.
3:50 PM: Here are the numbers at the break as the Henrico Warriors are 16 minutes away from advancing to Friday night's AAA State Championship against the winner of John Marshall/Wakefield. Woodson will have to make a magical comeback to get there.
Stats at the Half:
From an offensive standpoint, you can't ask or much more if you're Henrico as the Warriors connected on 5-of-6 three-pointers in that second quarter. W.T. Woodson, which had hit 17 3's over the past two games, made 2-of-4 in that second quarter. Offensively, Woodson has gotten mostly what they want. Defensively though, the Cavs are searching for some answers as they gave up only 52 points in the entire game in the quarters vs. Battlefield and have allowed 42 in this one in one half of play.
Jones and Talley are really pushing the pace well for Henrico and Woodson cannot get in a track meet with Henrico and survive. The Warriors really got some major lifts from the likes of Pearson and Moses with their outside shooting. That's opened up some drives to the cup as well. The first 3-4 minutes of the second half will be awfully pivotal for W.T. Woodson to stay within striking distance or this can become a rout really quickly.
3:46 PM: What a burst to close the first half by Vance Harmon's Henrico Warriors, looking like a State Championship squad as each minute gets close to Friday night. They closed the first half on an 18-5 run.
At the Half - - Henrico 42, W.T. Woodson 29
We'll have some stats in just a few moments.
3:42 PM: After W.T. Woodson tied the score at 24, Henrico went to its bench and got not one spark, but two of them. R.J. Moses hits a three-pointer to put them ahead on a dish from Timmy Jones and then it's the freshman De'Monte Buckingham making a great defensive play at the other end.
Alex Boock drills a three-pointer for W.T. Woodson to cut the Henrico lead to 29-27. Then it is Stephen Booker connecting from long range twice following a Jones basket. That gives Henrico a 37-27 lead. Booker and Moses are real sparkplugs in this one for Henrico, providing some great outside shooting to demoralize the Woodson defense.
3:38 PM: It appears Henrico is well on its way to their average of 79 points per game given how easily they are getting up and down the court in this second quarter, plus stretching the defense with some 3's.
A Timmy Jones three-pointer was sandwiched in between a Jordon Talley lay-up and Marvin Smith floater that gave Henrico a 24-17 lead with 6:25 to go in the second quarter. W.T. Woodson is struggling not so much to get back in transition, but to 'stop ball,' as the coaches would say.
Kudos to the Cavs for responding though as they go on a 7-0 run with sophomore point guard Eric Bowles making a three-pointer and then delivering a pretty pass to Tommy Stepka to tie the score at 24-apiece. I like this Bowles kid; he's one to watch in 2015 with his quickness and ability to attack the basket or dish to an open an. He's got D-1 potential for sure.
3:30 PM: At the end of the first quarter, W.T. Woodson senior forward Peter Murray, one of the grittiest players you're going to find in the Northern Region or the state for that matter, makes a heads up play by drawing a foul on a three-point shot from beyond half-court before time runs out in the period.
Unfortunately for Murray, he misses the first two from the free-throw line before making the last one to tie the score.
End 1stQ - - W.T. Woodson 17, Henrico 17
Woodson shot 50% from the field and turned it over only twice, but got beat on the boards 8-6 that quarter and both Marvin Smith Jr. and Timmy Jones scored five points apiece. Coach Doug Craig of the Cavs has to like the fact his team is getting some quality shots offensively, but the tempo is in favor of Henrico and I'm not sure Woodson can keep up with this pace for a full 32 minutes, nor get enough stops to win.
3:25 PM: Forward Tommy Stepka, one of the best shooters out of the Northern Region, scores inside the arc and Mike Hanser gets a bucket on the next possession to give W.T. Woodson a 13-9 lead. The Cavs are executing near flawlessly in the half-court with their back-cuts, moving without the basketball and running some Flex sets to perfection.
Henrico is getting some mighty fine looks against their defense though as R.J. Moses sinks a three-pointer and so does Timmy Jones, an All-Central Region guard who came through with some enormous plays in their rally vs. Kecoughtan in the AAA State Tournament quarterfinals last Thursday night. Guard Jordon Talley gives Henrico its first lead at 17-16 with 44.3 seconds left in the first quarter.
3:15 PM: To get things started for W.T. Woodson, it's Alex Boock drilling a three-pointer followed by an Eric Bowles lay-up and surprisingly Henrico finds themselves in an early 5-0 hole. The Warriors rally behind senior forward Marvin Smith Jr., who often puts up double-figure numbers in points and rebounds for Henrico.
It's a back-and-forth, frenetic pace out of the gate and that's great news if you're a Henrico fan/supporter because that's how they want to play for a majority of these 32 minutes. Eric Bowles of Woodson and R.J. Moses trade buckets and we're deadlocked at 9 with 4:55 left in the first quarter.
3:10 PM: We're about five minutes away from tip-off between Central Region Champion Henrico (28-2) and Northern Region Champion W.T. Woodson (25-4) in the AAA State Tournament Final Four at the VCU Siegel Center.
Before we get to that, let's review the numbers from Lake Taylor's Lady Titans defeating the Colonial Forge Lady Eagles to punch their ticket to Friday night's Girls AAA Hoops State Championship against either Stonewall Jackson or Princess Anne.
Taylor Lady Titans 64: (27-1 Overall)
Forge Lady Eagles 49: (26-4 Overall)
The name of the game was rebounding for Lake Taylor. They absolutely controlled the boards from start to finish and were too much for a Colonial Forge team that intends on being back here.
Lake Taylor got great play inside from Mitchell-Harmel as well as McKinney, both of whom nearly registered double-doubles. Fitzgerald put up 27 points and didn't even have her best game. Cooper was a threat shooting it from deep, and the Lady Titans were just fine with Colonial Forge living from behind the three-point line; they got just 10 field goals inside the arc compared to 23 for Lake Taylor.
2:45 PM: It's now in the books - - the Lake Taylor Lady Titans are officially moving on to Friday's AAA Girls Hoops State Championship against either Stonewall Jackson or Princess Anne.
GIRLS AAA HOOPS SEMIS FINAL - - LAKE TAYLOR 64, COLONIAL FORGE 49
We'll be back with Stats and the tip of Henrico/W.T. Woodson in about 30 minutes so stay tuned!
2:35 PM: With just under three minutes to go in the game, Lake Taylor is ahead 62-39 on Colonial Forge and the Lady Titans have been absolutely dominant on both ends of the court today. And the scary thing is you know Coach Saundra Sawyer will have still areas for improvement going into Friday night's AAA Girls Hoops title game against either the Northwest Region Champion Stonewall Jackson or the Eastern Region Champion Princess Anne.
A matchup versus Princess Anne would be mighty intriguing from a storyline standpoint because PA beat them earlier this season and it would be a re-match of the 2010 title game, where Lake Taylor got revenge for a loss in the Eastern Region Championship winning the AAA crown.
Don't forget coming up next, it's Henrico vs. W.T. Woodson in the first Boys Basketball AAA State Semifinal of the day in Richmond.
2:24 PM: Kudos to Colonial Forge for not going away as junior guard Kenya Holland strikes from three-pointer, their sixth of the game, but only first of the third quarter. Lake Taylor answers, gets a stop and now the Lady Titans have a shot to increase their 14-point lead on perhaps the final possession of this third period.
Inside it's Endia McKinney getting the feed from Kyara Cooper for the deuce as Lake Taylor is close to matching its biggest lead. When you live by the 3, you often die by the 3 and that's what is happening to a young Colonial Forge team that will be good for years to come, but too much quickness, aggressive defensive play and experience on the side of Lake Taylor.
End 3rdQ - - Lake Taylor Girls 53, Colonial Forge 37
Through three quarters of play, Feyonda Fitzgerald has 22 points. Jordan Mitchell-Harmel has been tremendous on the boards with 13 rebounds and Lake Taylor is +27 on the glass. Nia Washington is having a solid game for Colonial Forge with 16 points and five steals, making an impact on both ends of the floor.
2:18 PM: To begin the second half, Colonial Forge is holding its own against mighty Lake Taylor, but they can't quite get enough stops to move closer than nine down as every time they start to get closer someone makes a bucket for the Lady Titans, whether it's Endia McKinney in the post, Feyonda Fitzgerald at the guard spot or someone else.
The 1-3-1 zone defense of Lake Taylor is having some success and making it hard for Colonial Forge to find some open shooters or get the ball really deep into the low block for a high-percentage shot.
Lake Taylor is still in the lead comfortably, 47-34 with 2:50 to go in the second quarter. The foul situation favors the Lady Titans, too. Only one player has two fouls or more and she's not even a starter, while Colonial Forge has three starters with two fouls or more.
2:10 PM: Let's go over the numbers at the break as the Lake Taylor Lady Titans are cruising against the Colonial Forge Lady Eagles in a battle between the Eastern Region runner-up and the Northwest Region runner-up in the AAA State Girls Hoops Semis at VCU's Siegel Center.
Stats at the Half:
Believe it or not, Colonial Forge has actually turned Lake Taylor over more in this game. But Lake Taylor has just about matched Colonial Forge in three-point shooting and destroying them on the glass at +16. Fitzgerald is so good that she has 16 points and you wouldn't know it, plus is making plays for her teammates with four assists.
Cooper's outside shooting has been a real boost to the Lake Taylor offense, which has been clicking on all cylinders this half with over 50% shooting from the field. Washington and Holland are going to be two players to watch out for in the future for Colonial Forge, a team with only one senior starter in Campbell, who picked up two fouls in the first half. Washington also was whistled for three fouls in that half. Lake Taylor looks primed to playing on Friday night against the winner of Princess Anne/Stonewall Jackson this evening.
Trivia Question - - Has ever a Girls Basketball and Football team from the same school won the State Championship in the same calendar year? Drop me a line via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have the answer or know the last time it's happened in Girls Basketball and Football.
1:55 PM: With 4:20 to go in the second quarter, Lake Taylor maintains a rather sizeable lead still at 33-16. They haven't gotten a little bit too one-on-one at times in the half-court, but defensively, they are continuing to bring the pressure and make Colonial Forge rush shots or make some mistakes with the basketball.
Offensively, the Lady Titans already have two players in double-figures with sophomore guard Kyara Cooper and senior guard Feyonda Fitzgerald, both with 10 points apiece. Freshman guard Nia Washington is carrying the load offensively for Colonial Forge with eight points, but she's going to need some help from someone else on the perimeter to cut into this deficit.
1:49 PM: After letting Colonial Forge pull within two at the 3:14 mark of the first quarter, Lake Taylor poured it on and went on a 16-6 spurt, capped by a three-pointer from Kyara Cooper and lay-up from Feyonda Fitzgerald to take a 12-point lead into the second period.
End 1stQ - - Lake Taylor Girls 26, Colonial Forge 14
Lake Taylor shot a very efficient 61.1% from the field in that quarter (11-of-18) compared to 5-for-18 from Colonial Forge, which got nine of its points on three-pointers. Already, the Lady Titans are +12 on the backboards, not a good sign for a Colonial Forge team that will continue to shoot 3's and maybe not get second chance opportunities if missing.
1:40 PM: Lake Taylor has come out firing out of the gate with a pair of three-pointers from Courtney White as well as a lay-in from Endia McKinney to build a 7-0 lead before you even blink. Coach Michelle Darley of Colonial Forge needs a time-out, only 1:15 into the game and her team down by a touchdown in a game where you can only score 2's or 3's per basket, not seven.
Colonial Forge has gone to a 2-2-1 press on a couple of possessions and it has resulted in a couple of steals, one by Nia Washington to spark an 8-0 run to cut the Lake Taylor lead down to 10-8. But moments later, it's Lake Taylor back up 16-8 after Kyara Cooper scores on a press-break. The Lady Titans are starting to spread the floor better and stop settling for some 3's.
1:30 PM: Welcome to Final Four Monday in the VHSL Group AAA State Tournament in Richmond at the Verizon Wireless Arena on the campus of VCU. The Siegel Center is sure to be jumping today with Richmond area teams, Henrico and John Marshall, in action.
For the third straight year on the Boys side, the Northwest Region has been shut out of the State Semis at the AAA level. It's the first time since 2002 that the Eastern Region doesn't have a Boys team in the AAA Final Four. Meanwhile, it's Eastern Region vs. Northwest Region in the Girls Final Four as both the Northern Region and Central Region got shutout. That's a big surprise when it comes to the North because Oakton went undefeated en route to capturing a title last year.
Let's go through today's slate and the Predictions . . .
Preview of John Marshall/Wakefield *
Matthew Hatfield serves as State Basketball Analyst for VirginiaPreps.com, part of the Rivals.com Network. Check out Hatfield's Twitter page for more sports related updates, and you can also read his work in the Suffolk News Herald. To contact Matthew, please e-mail email@example.com, and don't forget to listen to him on High School Sports Talk from 10AM to Noon on ESPN Radio 94.1 plus watch him on the Cox 11 Sports Report.
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