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December 4, 2013

Commodores Cruise in Coleman's Debut

Final - - Maury 82, Norcom 66:

Maury didn't want it to be 11 in a row. Coming into Tuesday night's season opener for the host Commodores, they had dropped 10 straight to the Norcom Greyhounds. Their last win over the Portsmouth school came in the 2010 Eastern District Tournament Championship.

In a battle between two Top 5 ranked teams in the state - - Maury checking in #3 in the 5A Preseason Top Ten and Norcom at #4 in the 4A rankings - - the Commodores finally ended the streak with a 82-66 rout of the Greyhounds.

"They are a very quality opponent. Year in and year out, Norcom is an outstanding team, well-coached and there's a reason they had beaten us 10 times in a row. To open the season against them and playing the way we did, I was very, very pleased," remarked longtime Maury Head Basketball Coach Jack Baker after picking up career win #671.

It was a balanced attack for his Commodores with five players scoring at least eight points on a night where they shot 54% from the field. At the foul line, Maury cashed in on 18-of-22 attempts. Defensively, they held Norcom to just 34% from the floor.

Norcom, which came off a 70-62 triumph over Kecoughtan the night before in the Howard White Classic, trailed by as many as 29. Senior guard Troy Locke followed up a 32-point performance in the opener with 20 points, but was held to 6-of-16 shooting and grabbed nine fewer rebounds against Maury's active, long front-line.

Player of the Game: Maury PG Matt Coleman - - Quite honestly, three or four different players for Maury could take this besides Coleman, such as game leading scorer Jaleel Ferguson (22Pts.), shot blocking machine Shyheim Draughan (10 rejections), or even fellow guards like Mike Basnight and David Reed, who combined for 29 points, 11 assists and seven steals.

Considered one of the premier point guards in the country from the Class of 2017, Coleman displayed the type of poise you would expect from a junior or senior. Performing with a great understanding of how to attack the defense, use his body control, draw contact and play at a good pace, he started to warm up late in the first quarter when he drilled two jumpers to close the period and give his team a 16-12 lead.

"The first half coming out, I had little jitters in me, but I just had to let the game come to me," Coleman admitted following his much anticipated High School Basketball debut. "When I settled down, stuff started happening and the outcome was positive."

From there on, it was relatively smooth sailing for Maury's new floor general that showed why he possesses so much promise. He finished up with 13 points on 6-of-9 shooting, grabbed seven rebounds, handed out seven assists and made two steals.

"I thought he settled down after a shaky start," Baker said. "He's good enough as a ninth grader that he's going to set the tone for most games that we play hopefully. He can knock down the shot, but he gives it up to the open man just as easily. He's obviously a special player for us."

Keys to Victory:

#1 - - Overwhelm with Depth: Eight different players scored on the night for Maury, which has a second unit better than many teams' first. To have the luxury of being able to have someone come off the bench and block 10 shots and see a reserve score 15 points like junior guard David Reed did is a major plus for Baker's bench moving forward.

"We probably played ten tonight, but we can go 12 deep," Baker noted. "It's as deep as we have been and the good thing is it's a mixture of big people and guards. Anybody coming off the bench is capable of scoring."

#2 - - Ball Movement: On 30 field goals, Maury came up with 20 assists. Basnight handed out eight dimes, Coleman chipped, and what made their transition game so smooth was how they made the extra pass for a lay-up or dunk - - two on the night by Ferguson - - on the break.

"We practiced ball movement, sharing the ball, and our defense is our big thing," Coleman stated. "That's what wins games."

Norcom ended up with 11 assists compare to 12 turnovers.

#3 - - Baseline Erasers: Defensively, it's quite a combo for Maury to have with guards in Coleman, Basnight, Reed, and even the likes of Jalon Williams and Blake Gibson, that can apply full-court pressure when needed, and two shot blockers near the rim. It translates into a handful of steals, and they have guys that have their back around the cup in Ferguson and Draughan.

Nicknamed 'Six,' Draughan had six blocks well before half-time and the human fly-swatter finished up with ten, perhaps a career-high for the 6-foot-6 senior big man. Ferguson added three blocks. Between those two shots, Norcom had trouble getting easy buckets in the paint.

"It allows us for our front guys to take chances that normally they wouldn't do," Baker pointed out. "If it doesn't work, you've still got big guys back there to contend with, so it's a good feeling for a change to have that type of talent back there."

Postgame Audio with Maury Coach Jack Baker
Postgame Audio with Maury PG Matt Coleman

Final Stats:

Maury Commodores 82: (1-0)
Jaleel Ferguson - - 22Pts. 8-13FG, 6-7FT, 5Reb. 3Blk.
David Reed - - 15Pts. 6-7FG, 2Reb. 3Ast. 3Stl.
Mike Basnight - - 14Pts. 6-14FG, 4Reb. 8Ast. 4Stl.
Matt Coleman - - 13Pts. 6-9FG, 7Reb. 7Ast. 2Stl.
Shyheim Draughan - - 8Pts. 2-7FG, 4-7FT, 6Reb. 10Blk.
Anthony Williams - - 6Pts. 1-4FG, 4-4FT, 6Reb.

Norcom Greyhounds 66: (1-1)
Troy Locke - - 20Pts. 6-16FG, 6-7FT, 3Reb. 2Blk.
Travis Fields - - 16Pts. 4-13FG, 2-3 3's, 6-8FT, 5Reb. 2Ast.
Antonio Parker - - 9Pts. 3-13FG, 11Reb. 5Ast.
Travis Ingram - - 7Pts. 3-3FG, 2Reb.

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 every Saturday from 10AM to Noon on ESPN Radio 94.1, plus watch him on the Cox 11 Sports Report.

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