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March 4, 2013

LIVE AAA Final Four Blog - Session 2

11:58 PM: The final Group AAA State Basketball Tournament comes to a dramatic conclusion on Friday night in Richmond in the Verizon Wireless Arena at the VCU Siegel Center. Champions will be crowned and another fun, exciting postseason of High School Hoops will end.

We'll have Previews on those games and our 'What We Learned' features to check out this week as well.

My Predictions are now 10-0 overall in the State Tournament. Who will I select on Friday? You'll have to check back on the site and see my Picks on those games later on, plus be sure to follow the Live Blog on Friday night.

LIVE AAA Hoops Final Four Blog - - Session #1

Here were the Finals from the State Tournament Semis . . .

Girls AAA Hoops Semis Final Score - - Lake Taylor 64, Colonial Forge 49
Girls AAA Hoops Semis Final Score - - Princess Anne 48, Stonewall Jackson 38
Boys AAA Hoops Semis Final Score - - Henrico 75, W.T. Woodson 65
Boys AAA Hoops Semis Final Score - - John Marshall 66, Wakefield 46

That sets up these Championship games on Friday night . . .

Girls AAA Hoops State Championship at 7:00 PM:
Lake Taylor (27-1) vs. Princess Anne (30-1)

Boys AAA Hoops State Championship at 9:00 PM:
Henrico (29-2) vs. John Marshall (26-5)

10:30 PM: Well, the Richmond area fans got their wish for Friday's night AAA title game as it'll be an All-Central Region Final when the John Marshall Justices play the Henrico Warriors for all the marbles in the final State Championship before the new classification goes into effect for 2013-14.

Let's go over the Final Numbers from the Justices' victory over Wakefield.

Final Stats:

John Marshall Justices 66: (26-5 Overall)
Gee Dean-McBride - - 26Pts. 9-20FG, 7-11FT, 12Reb. 5Ast.
Brian White - - 18Pts. 6-13FG, 6-7FT, 11Reb. 3Blk.
Aaron McCrae - - 9Pts. 3-6FG, 3-4 3's, 2Reb.
Jay Broaduss - - 5Pts. 2-5FG
Justices - - 24-58FG, 4-10 3's, 14-19FT, 40Reb.
11Ast. 13TO's, 5Blk. 6Stl.

Wakefield Warriors 46: (25-6 Overall)
Khory Moore - - 22Pts. 8-20FG, 2-9 3's, 4-6FT, 6Reb. 2Ast.
Dominique Tham - - 10Pts. 5-11FG, 10Reb. 3Blk.
Re'Quan Hopson - - 7Pts. 2-9FG, 3-5FT, 8Reb. 2Ast.
Ermias Nega - - 4Pts. 1-10FG, 10Reb. 3Stl.
Warriors - - 17-58FG, 3-18 3's, 9-13FT, 38Reb. 7Ast. 15TO's, 5Blk. 7Stl.

Postgame Presser with John Marshall
Postgame Presser with Wakefield

As the season has gone on, John Marshall's shot selection has improved quite a bit to where they don't become reliant on the three-point shot. Combine that with the fact they were +12 in the paint and +8 in point off turnovers, and John Marshall manufactured points much better. Dean-McBride continues to have a really strong postseason alongside White, who produced a double-double on a relatively quiet night after his 33-point monster night in the State Quarters.

McCrae has given the Justices a fairly dependable #3 option offensively and as far as foul shooting goes, few are as proficient in that area as John Marshall, which got another big man in foul trouble and got in the bonus early to compromise the opposition's defense. If they are able to do that against Henrico and keep the guards out of the paint, they'll have a chance to make it third time's a charm. Coach White said afterwards that the tougher team is going to prevail.

Coach Bentley felt the Warriors fell in love with the 3 ball too much trying to play catch up and that cost them. He also thought they were selfish at times offensively, leading to a major drop off in their point production after putting up 80-plus versus Mountain View. It took Moore and Nega 30 shots to get a combined 26 points and that wasn't how they had success when they ran off 16 straight earlier this year. Also, we noted that if Wakefield had 15+ turnovers, they'd be on the wrong side out of the outcome and that happened.

10:08 PM: It's now complete and the Wakefield Warriors' wonderful season will end at 25-6 overall. John Marshall moves to 26-5 overall and will be playing Henrico in a much anticipated All-Central Region AAA Boys Basketball State Championship. Will it be third time's a charm for John Marshall after losing to Henrico the previous two meetings this season?

BOYS AAA HOOPS SEMIS FINAL - - JOHN MARSHALL 66, WAKEFIELD 46

Back with some Final Stats and we'll put a pretty bow on this thing to wrap-up the evening in an about an hour or so - - stay tuned!

10:00 PM: If you told John Marshall Head Coach Ty White that with three minutes left in the game, senior forward Brian White would only have two points in this second half and that his team wouldn't make a free-throw in the third quarter, he'd probably be somewhat concerned. But they've rode the back of senior guard Gee Dean-McBride with a couple of key shots sprinkled by Aaron McCrae to stay well ahead, 54-39 of Wakefield with under three minutes to play in regulation.

Trailing by 13 to start the fourth quarter, Wakefield has gone significantly cold from the field with only two points in the first 5:26 of the period.

A few of the Henrico players noted after their win earlier today over W.T. Woodson in the State Tournament Semis that it is tough to beat a team three times and the Warriors will have to do that to win the State Championship.

The city of Richmond is sure to be buzzing on Friday night as two schools right down the road from one another will be going head-to-head for all the marbles in AAA Boys Basketball.

9:54 PM: Quite honestly, John Marshall's speed and athleticism has worn down a Wakefield team that doesn't go very deep into its bench, playing only two guys off the pine compared to a Justices team that goes 10-deep. In the fourth quarter, those tired legs are showing as JM is comfortably in front with 4:43 to play by a count of 53-39.

Wakefield has missed about six or seven jumpers in a row that they normally make. Defensively, the Justices have baited them to into some of those long perimeter jumpers and the Warriors haven't really applied any full-court pressure to give the Justices problems.

To say this fourth quarter has become a yawner might be an understatement (in fact, I actually spotted someone under the age of 50 that fell asleep - - no lie!). But Wakefield has had a wonderful season, winning 17 of 18 before this one. They are juts a little overmatched by John Marshall.

9:49 PM: Kudos to the job John Marshall has done defensively tonight, holding Wakefield below 40 points entering the fourth quarter. The Warriors scored 83 points in the State Tournament quarterfinals against Mountain View and shot nearly 60% for the game. Tonight, they are shooting only 33.3% as the Justices have outscored them 26-18 in the painted area, plus hold a 19-10 advantage in points off turnovers.

Senior guard Aaron McCrae has been that x-factor, that reliable #3 option offensively to go with Gee Dean-McBride and Brian White. First it was McCrae on a drive and finding Travis Boykins, a 6-foot-5 backup senior forward, for a deuce. To close the third quarter, he swished a three-pointer in the corner right in front of me on press row.

End 3rdQ - - John Marshall 50, Wakefield 37

We're eight minutes away from the first ever All-Central Region AAA Championship in Boys Basketball in the VHSL State Tournament. The Justices' last appearance in the AAA title game came in 1993 when they lost to Bethel. They haven't won a State Championship on the hardwood since 1954.

9:44 PM: An Aaron McCrae three-pointer puts John Marshall up 13 until the National District Player of the Year Khory Moore starts to get that deadly outside jump shot going for the Wakefield Warriors.

Moore makes consecutive three-pointers for the Warriors to cut the Justices' lead down to nine. In between there was another super scintillating, sweet drive to the cup for two by John Marshall senior guard Gee Dean-McBride, the Player of the Game to this point.

Dean-McBride gets a quick breather and so does sophomore Nate Williams, a tall 6-foot-7 forward who has given serviceable minutes to the Justices tonight. Moore is fouled on a three-pointer, an absolute no-no if you're John Marshall, but he doesn't make them pay by converting only 1-of-3 at the foul line. A John Marshall turnover gives Wakefield a chance to get within five or six with under a minute to go in this third quarter.

9:39 PM: Senior guard Gee Dean-McBride wasn't chosen All-Central Region First Team, but if they re-did the voting after tonight, he'd probably be on there as he has done it all for his team, scoring, distributing, running the break, making things happen defensively and is communicating well with his teammates. He looks like a next-level player this evening, no worse than Division II if you ask me.

Thanks to a bucket from Dean-McBride and finding his running mate Brian White on the break, John Marshall is back up double-figures at 38-26 with 4:10 to go in the third quarter. There are occasional moments where Dean-McBride makes some decisions that have you scratching your head, such as jacking a 25-footer when it wasn't needed, but for the most part, he's been the engine of their attack and made many more positive plays than negative.

Bad news for Wakefield is that Ermias Nega and Dominique Tham, two of their key front-court players, will have to go the rest of this third quarter with three fouls apiece, so even if they do go on a run, they are just one foul away from being in big trouble.

9:32 PM: I like the way that the Wakefield Warriors have started the second half here in the AAA State Semis against John Marshall as Coach Tony Bentley's team is playing much more aggressively. Re'Quan Hopson hits 1-of-2 at the foul line and then Khory Moore scores on an absolute gorgeous move coast-to-coast to cut the John Marshall lead to 32-26.

All of the sudden, Coach Ty White of John Marshall might want to think about a time-out here if they don't get a basket and a stop. They get the basket, get the stop, but guard Gee Dean-McBride misses two free-throws and Dominique Tham rejects Quaman Burton's three-pointer, and then Burton steps out of bounds. Wakefield can get back within six with a basket at the 5:30 mark.

9:25 PM: There's never been an All-Central Region AAA Boys Basketball Championship in the VHSL State Tournament. We're 16 minutes away from seeing it and a third chapter this season between Henrico and John Marshall. Henrico won the last two meetings, including in the Central Region Championship game 58-51.

Unless Wakefield can bottle up the Justices in the second half and get their outside shooting going, history will take place on Friday night.

Let's take a closer look at the first half stats.

Stats at the Half:

John Marshall 32:
Gee Dean-McBride - - 12Pts. 4-8FG, 3-4FT, 4Reb. 4Ast.
Brian White - - 11Pts. 3-7FG, 5-5FT, 4Reb. 2Blk.
Aaron McCrae - - 3Pts. 1-2FG
Justices - - 11-24FG, 2-6 3's, 8-9FT, 12Reb. 6Ast. 7TO's, 3Blk. 5Stl.

Wakefield 23:
Dominique Tham - - 10Pts. 5-9FG, 6Reb.
Khory Moore - - 4Pts. 2-7FG, 0-2 3's, 2Reb.
Ermias Nega - - 4Pts. 1-4FG, 2-2FT, 4Reb. 2Stl.
Warriors - - 10-28FG, 1-5 3's, 2-2FT, 18Reb. 5Ast. 11TO's, 2Blk. 5Stl.

You can't ask for much more from John Marshall's tandem of White and Dean-McBride. Both are impacting the game in multiple ways, not just scoring. Dean-McBride is dishing to teammates and White is affecting shots on defense, plus getting to the foul line to put Wakefield's key guys in foul trouble, including Nega with three. As long as John Marshall's role players don't get crazy with the basketball, they'll be moving on to Friday night's AAA title game.

Everything offensively for Wakefield looks difficult. They have turned it over 11 times and in our Preview we noted that 15+ would spell doom. Well, they are almost there, and compounding matters is the fact they've been to the foul line only twice, scored just two fast-break points and shot 20% from long distance. Moore and Nega have to get on track for this to be competitive in the fourth quarter, otherwise John Marshall will hold a working 8-14 point margin from here on out.

9:20 PM: Wakefield closes the first half getting a bucket from Re'Quan Hopson and minimizes any further damage from John Marshall, which is leaning heavily on the combo of Brian White (Citadel signee) and Gee Dean-McBride in this State Tournament. They were great in the win over Eastern Region Champ Great Bridge in the quarters and are playing extremely well once again tonight.

AAA State Semis at the Half - - John Marshall 32, Wakefield 23

We'll crunch some numbers in about five minutes!

9:12 PM: John Marshall is still in the lead here with 3:40 to go until half-time as it is 24-16 in favor of the Justices, but Wakefield is just one or two baskets away from making things very interesting. Both of Wakefield's two senior standouts, Khory Moore and Ermias Nega, have been a little out of control on drives at times with Moore called for travelling and Nega whistled for an offensive foul.

Moore is starting to make some plays as a distributor, finding Dominque Tham for a basket inside and then hitting sophomore reserve Marqua Walton for an important three-pointer. Walton is one of the guys they are counting on to stretch the defense, especially if Moore can't get a clean look from 3.

Gee Dean-McBride is starting to really warm up for John Marshall since he went to the bench to catch his breath. Dean-McBride has made three straight shots for the Justices, a couple on challenging jumpers and that keeps Wakefield from moving any closer. Plus, he makes a steal at one end and finds Brian White for a dunk on the fast-break. That gives JM a 32-21 lead with 1:24 to go left in the first half.

9:08 PM: To start the second quarter, Wakefield shows better ball movement as Ermias Nega and Dominique Tham each get baskets to cut into that John Marshall lead, which is 20-12. A beautiful lob is thrown by John Marshall and finished by Brian White to thwart a possible run by the Warriors. However, Wakefield won't be detoured as junior guard Jalen Carver finds Tham inside for the deuce. Tham is going to be a prospect to watch out for because although he's undersized, he challenges shots and gets off the floor quickly.

This is a pivotal stretch upcoming for John Marshall as they give senior guard Gee Dean-McBride his first rest, so it'll be up junior guard Quaman Burton and sophomore Jeremy Sheppard to make smart decisions with the basketball as well as senior Aaron McCrae. White misses a long jumper and Wakefield has a chance to pull within five or six here if they get a make.

9:02 PM: John Marshall is really revving it up behind this pro-Richmond crowd and they've got the Northern Region runner-up Warriors from Wakefield shaken up right now after Gee Dean-McBride bangs home a three-pointer in the corner to push the Jayem lead to 18-8. Taqqi Muhammad, a sophomore reserve for the Justices, sinks a pull-up jumper to increase the advantage to 20-8. That'll be the score at the End of 1.

End 1stQ - - John Marshall 20, Wakefield 8

Three of Wakefield's starters in Jalen Carver, Re'Quan Hopson and Ermias Nega have been shut down to just two points total. They really need Nega (who had 32 vs. Mountain View in the State Quarters) to get it going or it'll be a long night.

8:57 PM: Wakefield is starting to settle in some offensively as National District Player of the Year Khory Moore, a senior guard that put up 37 points and six treys in the Warriors' Northern Region Championship overtime loss to W.T. Woodson, has scored the first four points for his team. Sophomore center Dominique Tham adds a bucket in the paint and John Marshall's lead is only a point, 7-6, approaching two minutes left in the opening quarter.

The Justices answer behind their star forward Brian White, finishing a three-point play at the foul line to make the score 13-6 in favor of John Marshall with 1:39 to go in the opening quarter. That's followed by a basket from sophomore guard Jay Broaduss of John Marshall and they draw a charge at the other end. Wakefield is back in the danger zone again and must close out the first quarter well, keeping the deficit to single-digits or they're going to dig themselves too deep of a hole to climb out of I think.

8:50 PM: In the early going, it's John Marshall setting a tone with its defense as 6-foot-7 forward Brian White, a senior and the Colonial District Player of the Year who is headed to play his College Basketball at The Citadel, rejects a Wakefield shot attempt. That leads to an Aaron McCrae three-pointer and he's one of their main weapons shooting it from deep.

White put up 33 points in the State Tournament quarterfinals against Great Bridge on Friday and he's going to be the guy that Wakefield must deny in order to be successful. A hook shot by sophomore 6-foot-7 forward Nate Williams, making a surprising start for John Marshall, increases the Justices' lead to 5-2 with 5:31 to go in the first quarter. Coach Ty White has gone with a bigger lineup to start and it's a good move in my opinion as White and Williams can give Wakefield problems on the glass.

Williams is a D-1 prospect to watch out for from the Class of 2015 as well. Wakefield looks very tentative on the offensive end and they better get it together or else their deficit will be double-digits, currently trailing 7-2 with 3:55 left until the second quarter starts.

8:40 PM: So we have a classic Girls Basketball State Championship coming our way on Friday night in a re-match from the 2010 title game as it's an All-Eastern Region re-match with Princess Anne (30-1) taking on Lake Taylor (27-1) for all the marbles. With the new classification system going into effect next year, it'll be the last time at least for a while that these two meet up in the postseason.

Let's go through the Final Stats from this one . . .

Final Stats:

Princess Anne Lady Cavaliers 48: (30-1 Overall)
Morgan Cooper - - 23Pts. 7-18FG, 9-13FT, 8Reb. 4Ast. 5Stl.
Janayla White - - 11Pts. 4-7FG, 3-7FT, 16Reb. 5Blk.
Alexis Platt - - 8Pts. 4-7FG, 11Reb.
Gadiva Hubbard - - 4Pts. 1-12FG, 2-2FT, 2Reb. 2Blk.
Lady Cavs - - 17-58FG, 0-6 3's, 14-22FT, 46Reb. 6Ast. 11TO's, 8Blk. 8Stl.

Stonewall Jackson Lady Raiders 38: (24-4 Overall)
Nicole Floyd - - 12Pts. 4-16FG, 4-6FT, 18Reb. 5Blk.
Amanda Hinton - - 10Pts. 4-14FG, 1-2Ft, 4Reb.
Desare Williams - - 8Pts. 4-6FG, 3Reb.
Sydney Jordan - - 6Pts. 2-7FG, 2-2FT, 4Reb. 3Ast. 2Stl.
Lady Raiders - - 15-54FG, 1-9 3's, 7-10FT, 41Reb. 6Ast. 18TO's, 5Blk. 6Stl.

Postgame Presser with Princess Anne Lady Cavaliers

The foul shooting down the stretch for PA doesn't concern as much as the fact they didn't make a three-pointer and they're going to need respectable shooting numbers versus Lake Taylor on Friday to prevail. On the glass, White, Platt and Cooper were nothing short of phenomenal. They battled well against Floyd, a bona-fide star player who's headed to Wake Forest in the ACC.

Princess Anne's players and coaches spoke glowingly about Floyd afterwards, praising her footwork inside. Stonewall Jackson didn't get to the foul line enough, nor did they take caer of the ball well enough with 18 turnovers and PA capitalized with 11 points off that and 12 points on second chance. Those 23 points right there were nearly half of the Lady Cavs' total.

Next up it's John Marshall vs. Wakefield in the State Final Four on the Boys side with the winner set to take on Central Region Champ Henrico for the AAA Championship!

8:21 PM: It's now in the books and the Princess Anne Lady Cavaliers are headed to the State Championship game for the seventh time (they are 4-2 in that game all-time) and fifth consecutive trip under Coach Darnell Dozier, who improves to 469-43 after their latest win, a triumph over Northwest Region Champion Stonewall Jackson in the AAA Girls Hoops Final Four.

GIRLS AAA HOOPS SEMIS FINAL - PRINCESS ANNE 48, STONEWALL JACKSON 38

That means it'll be Princess Anne vs. Lake Taylor Girls at 7:00 PM on Friday night at the VCU Siegel Center for the State Championship in a re-match of the 2010 AAA Final. Back in 2010, Princess Anne won the Eastern Region title then lost to Lake Taylor by six, 50-44. Does the same thing occur this time or will Princess Anne's Drive for Five culminate by handing the Lady Titans a second loss this season?

We'll have some Final Stats and more momentarily, plus the tip of Northern Region runner-up Wakefield (25-5) vs. Central Region runner-up John Marshall (25-5) in the other AAA Final Four matchup on the Boys side - - keep it locked to VirginiaPreps.com!

8:15 PM: With 1:36 left, it's Princess Anne salting this one away at the free-throw line as Morgan Cooper drains a pair to push their lead to 44-31 on Stonewall Jackson. Before those two makes, PA had gone just 2-for-8 at the foul line in their previous eight attempts this quarter. But the Lady Cavs have been relentless on defense and much smart with the basketball this half to keep the Lady Raiders at bay.

Cooper has 23 points, putting forth a great all-around performance to have the Lady Cavs approaching their fifth consecutive State Final.

Barring a serious collapse that human beings cannot explain, Princess Anne's Girls will be playing in the State Championship game for the seventh time under Coach Darnell Dozier and will face Lake Taylor on Friday night in

8:05 PM: A basket by Stonewall Jackson junior guard Desare Williams draws the Lady Raiders closer, trailing only 38-32 midway through the fourth quarter. But they miss on their next trip down and Princess Anne milks some clock before Morgan Cooper, the senior catalyst for the Lady Cavs, scores to push their lead to 40-32 with under four minutes to play.

Princess Anne's Cooper makes another clutch play on the defensive end of the court, willing her team in crunch time in this one. She then finds an open Alexis Platt inside, who misses an open shot, rebound to Stonewall Jackson, but t's Cooper yanking down a rebound. Platt is fouled inside on a rebound attempt and the Lady Cavs lead it 40-32 with 3:02 remaining.

8:00 PM: So what's the secret to success for Princess Anne and Lake Taylor's Girls Basketball programs? They have top-notch coaches in Darnell Dozier and Saundra Sawyer who push their players to the max all the time, but going further than that, it's their commitment to the defensive end of the floor.

That was shown just a few moments ago early in the fourth quarter with Stonewall Jackson sensing they could go on a run and move within five when senior Morgan Cooper sacrificed her body and took a charge. I saw almost the same exact charge about a week ago in the State Tournament quarterfinals from Lake Taylor's Jordan Mitchell-Harmel against Highland Springs, drawing two key charges.

A play like that prevents the other team from going on a run and lifts your teammates up; it's those type of winning plays on a big stage that separates the best from the rest.

7:55 PM: Princess Anne is having a tough time containing Nicole Floyd of Stonewall Jackson and Amanda Hinton; together those two have 21 points, but the rest of the players have only six points. Floyd scored eight points in the third quarter alone, mostly on great post entry feeds and working extremely hard in the paint.

Meanwhile, the Lady Raiders are getting beat on the boards and back in transition on a few occasions, leading to PA sitting just eight minutes away from reaching the State Championship game in Girls Basketball for a fifth consecutive year.

End 3rdQ - - Princess Anne 34, Stonewall Jackson 27

7:51 PM: Nicole Floyd, junior post player for Stonewall Jackson headed to play her College Basketball at Wake Forest in the ACC, is doing all she can to keep her team alive and in it after scoring a couple of field goals. But here come those Lady Cavaliers of PA again with precision and poise as Alexis Platt scores in transition to give the Lady Cavs a 30-22 lead with 2:52 left in the third quarter.

Coach Diana Martinez of Stonewall Jackson gets a time-out. Out of the time-out, it's Morgan Cooper adding to her point total; she's now got 13 points. Stonewall Jackson is struggling to stop the Princess Anne driving game and Coach Dozier's squad has done a really fine job on the other end of closing out on the Lady Raiders' perimeter weapons.

7:44 PM: Princess Anne opens the second half where they left off in the first half and that was attacking the cup and getting buckets with Morgan Cooper scoring on a drive and then adding two more field goals o grab a double-digit lead, 26-16, this for a team with six freshmen and two sophomores on the roster. Oh my, are they going to be a handful to deal with in years to come or what?

That's a 10-0 run dating back to the second quarter for Princess Anne, and they actually trailed by eight a long time ago, early in the second period.

7:36 PM: Stonewall Jackson's Girls stayed ice cold that first half deep into the final minutes of the second quarter and saw a six-point lead turn into a four-point deficit at the break. The Lady Raiders shot just 2-of-15 in that second quarter and let Princess Anne impose its will inside much like Lake Taylor's Girls did against Colonial Forge.

Must say that it is a relatively light crowd this evening compared to the afternoon session, where both Henrico and W.T. Woodson brought a bunch of students, and even Lake Taylor had their fair share in attendance for support. Not a lot of booming voices for Princess Anne or Stonewall Jackson's gals at the Siegel Center . . . let's hope that changes for the Boys matchup with John Marshall and Wakefield to follow after this one.

Stats at the Half:

Princess Anne Lady Cavs 20:
Morgan Cooper - - 9Pts. 3-10FG, 3-4FT, 3Reb. 2Stl.
Janalya White - - 7Pts. 3-5FG, 11Reb.
Alexis Platt - - 2Pts. 1-2FG, 7Reb.
Lady Cavs - - 8-32FG, 0-3 3's, 4-6FT, 27Reb. 2Ast. 8TO's, 4Blk. 3Stl.

Stonewall Jackson Lady Raiders 16:
Amanda Hinton - - 6Pts. 2-6FG, 1-2 3's, 1-2FT, 2Reb.
Nicole Floyd - - 4Pts. 1-9FG, 2-2FT, 7Reb.
Lady Raiders - - 6-28FG, 1-6 3's, 3-4Ft, 20Reb. 2Ast. 8TO's, 1Blk. 5Stl.

The shooting percentages, both at 25% or lower, and assist-to-turnover ratios, each at 2-to-8, leave plenty to be desired to put it kindly. White and Platt were terrific on the boards, combining for 18 rebounds between the two of them. PA's offense started to come alive with those two crashing the offensive glass and Cooper starting to find her shot.

Stonewall Jackson cannot get anything to fall inside and they only got PA whistled for four fouls in that first half. The Lady Raiders have to attack more off the dribble, not get bothered by the defensive pressure, bring some traps of their own and start to make better decisions with the basketball. In the first quarter it was PA being sloppy with the ball, and in the second quarter it was Stonewall that failed to value its possessions.

7:29 PM: Princess Anne's Chandace Golden scored with 48 seconds left in the first half to break a 16-all tie, and then Alexis Platt, one of only two seniors on the roster along with Morgan Cooper, added two to push the advantage to four. PA even had a chance to go up six or seven when Stonewall Jackson turned it over with 9.8 seconds left in the first half, but they turned it over.

Girls AAA Final Four at the Half - - Stonewall Jackson 20, Princess Anne 16

We'll have some stats in a few minutes . . .

7:22 PM: The tide is beginning to turn here midway through the second quarter as Princess Anne is starting to give Stonewall Jackson some problems with their 2-2-1 full-court press and a few half-court traps Coach Darnell Dozier had up his sleeve (although, he's wearing a short sleeve PA t-shirt, so not sure he had it up his sleeve).

Janayla White, the 6-foot-1 junior center who has been a rebounding and shot blocking machine for the Lady Cavs all year, is starting to hit the offensive glass extremely well for PA.

Stonewall Jackson is beginning to rush shots when they don't turn it over and PA has squandered a couple of chances to take the lead until Morgan Cooper's field goal with 3:20 to go in the first half knots the score at 14, and then Cooper puts them ahead at the 2:07 mark at 16-14.

7:16 PM: In that first quarter, Princess Anne was pretty dreadful to say the least. They shot 1-for-10 from the field, committed six turnovers, had no assists and lost the battle on the boards, 10-9. Stonewall Jackson didn't exactly capitalize though, scoring no fast-break buckets and their lead is only six. They need to do what Maury failed to do against PA in the Eastern Region Tournament semifinals and that is push the advantage

7:10 PM: Finally, we have some points on the board as Princess Anne center Janayla White hits 1-of-2 free-throws at the 4:32 mark of the first quarter for the game's first points. The first field goal comes about 20 seconds later courtesy of Rachel Burns to give Stonewall Jackson a lead.

White answers the bucket, but that would be the Lady Cavs' only field goal of the opening quarter as Stonewall Jackson has clamped down completely and gone on a 7-0 run to close the period.

Amanda Hinton, a senior guard with plenty of experience and leadership, knocks down a there-pointer and the likes of Desare Williams and Nicole Floyd add field goals. That's all your scoring folks in the first quarter.

End 1stQ - - Stonewall Jackson Girls 9, Princess Anne 3

7:05 PM: Our second Girls AAA Hoops State Semis matchup is underway as the Eastern Region Champions from Princess Anne (29-1) and the Northwest Region Champion Stonewall Jackson Lady Raiders (24-3). These two met before back in 2011 in the State Championship when Duke's Elizabeth Williams led PA to a victory in a rout, 65-39.

This is a much different looking PA team than that one and SJ is very different, too. Darnell Dozier's Lady Cavs are trying to win a fifth straight state title and haven't lost in the Final Four round since 2008 when Forest Park ousted them, 51-42.

It's been a total defensive struggle with neither team scoring three minutes into action. Let's say that the first team to 6 points will win - - I'm declaring it now! We're scoreless.

6:55 PM: We're back for Session #2 on 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 will play host to a couple of games this evening, one on the Girls side and one on the Boys side, as Lake Taylor Girls and Henrico Boys await the winners for Friday night's AAA State Championship.

Miss the first session Blog from earlier today? No worries - - we've got you covered. See the LIVE Blog Session #1 here.

Let's go through today's slate and the Predictions . . .


AAA State Final Four Schedule for Monday 3/4/13 at VCU:
7:00 PM (G) - - ER #1 Princess Anne (29-1) vs. NW #1 Stonewall Jackson (24-3)
8:30 PM (B) - - CR #2 John Marshall (25-5) vs. NR #2 Wakefield (25-5)

Earlier Finals . . .

GIRLS AAA STATE SEMIS - - LAKE TAYLOR 64, COLONIAL FORGE 49
BOYS AAA STATE SEMIS - - HENRICO 75, W.T. WOODSON 65

Hatfield's Picks: (2-0 today; 8-0 overall in Boys & Girls in State Playoffs)
Princess Girls by 6, John Marshall Boys by 5

Cool Links: * Indicates Premium Content

LIVE AAA Hoops Final Four Blog - - Session #1
AAA Semis Preview of John Marshall/Wakefield *
AAA Semis Preview of Henrico/W.T. Woodson *
AAA Quarterfinals Preview of Great Bridge/John Marshall *
AAA Quarterfinals Preview of Battlefield/W.T. Woodson *
AAA Quarterfinals Preview of Kecoughtan/Henrico *
AAA Quarterfinals Preview of Mountain View/Wakefield *
What We Learned - - Eastern Region Semis *
Monday's Eastern Region Championship Live Blog
Recap of Eastern Region Championship with Great Bridge/Kecoughtan *
Sunday's Eastern Region Semis Live Blog
Friday's Central Region Semis Live Blog

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 hatfieldsports2k4@yahoo.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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