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December 8, 2013

Lions Edge Kellam in Nail-Biter

Final - - Tallwood 55, Kellam 54:

Sometimes, it takes having a little luck or good fortune on your side. After coughing up a 13-point lead, the Tallwood Lions were able to corral a missed three-pointer and Isaiah Vaughan's go-ahead lay-up with 11.7 seconds to play proved to be the difference in a 55-54 triumph over the Kellam Knights.

"They did a better job in their rotations in the second half," noted Tallwood Head Basketball Coach Tom Gunsalus. "As a result, we tried to force things from the high post and up top when I thought we needed to be more aggressive from the baseline like we were in the first half. We also got a little sloppy in the fourth quarter and fouled a little bit.

Tallwood had reasonable success attacking Kellam's 1-1-3 zone, forcing them out of it in the fourth quarter as they shot 7-for-20 from three-point distance on the night. Kellam made its run behind junior point guard Janai Raynor-Powell, who scored half of his game-high 18 points. Raynor-Powell's penetration gave the Lions problems during the final quarter.

The Lions would get down by three with under two minutes to play when senior Will Howard, a two-sport athlete that also excels on the football field, canned a crucial three-pointer to deadlock the score at 51.

With the loss, their second by six points or less, Kellam drops to 0-2 overall. Tallwood now moves to 2-0 overall and enter a key portion of their schedule before Christmas comes.

"We've got three games coming up with Kempsville on Tuesday, and then Green Run and Woodside back-to-back next Friday and Saturday," Gunsalus said. "That'll be a tough stretch for us and we'll see how well we can do."

Player of the Game: Tallwood SG Tyler Peterson - - The senior guard for the Lions who's attracting mostly Division III recruiting attention didn't have his typical scoring night with just 15 points on 6-of-15 shooting, but did knock some key three-pointers and contributed in other facets of the game, which served vital to his team's success.

Peterson finished up with a solid all-around performance as he had 15 points, five rebounds, five assists and three steals. His play on defense was very noticeable, including drawing a charge when Kellam was trying to get momentum before the half. It wouldn't be too stunning if Peterson is among the top scorers from Virginia Beach this season.

Keys to Victory:

#1 - - Freshman Spark: Off the bench, 6-foot-1 Tallwood forward Adrian Beasley provided 11 points and made all four of his shots from the field, three of which came from beyond the arc. Beasley's offensive punch certainly was a boost for a Lions team that came into the season wondering about their complementary scoring parts outside of Peterson.

"Adrian has been a pleasant surprise. I really thought I'd keep him on the J.V. instead of the varsity this year, but he's such a good decision maker and plays with a lot of confidence," Gunsalus said.

"We noticed that in the scrimmages and he didn't get a chance to play with us in the Fall League because he plays football. He's a little bit behind in trying to know everything and can get in better shape defensively to help us out more. Offensively, he's a key to our success."

#2 - - Cause Turnovers: What really ignited Tallwood's offense was their defensive ball pressure, forcing Kellam into 16 turnovers before the fourth quarter began. That included six each in the second and third quarters.

By doing such, it prevented Kellam from getting in a great rhythm shooting from long distance.

"We closed out well on the shooters so that they didn't get that many 3's on us. That's probably the best we've done in a long time," Gunsalus commented.

#3 - - Keep Possessions Alive:
On the night, Tallwood had 12 offensive rebounds, which isn't an extremely high total, but when they got them was what mattered. They were timely, and in particular from newcomer Xavier (pronounced as Javier) Holloman. The 6-foot-2 junior wing transferred in from New Jersey during the off-season.

Holloman's play was crucial for the Lions as he tallied eight points and nine boards. Kellam found it difficult to keep him off the offensive glass.

"We expected that Xavier would be a guy that could get about 10 points per game for us and between 8-10 rebounds," Gunsalus noted. "Even though he's not a very big kid, he adds that toughness and has good bounce on the floor."

Final Stats:

Tallwood Lions 55: (2-0 Overall)
Tyler Peterson - - 15Pts. 6-15G, 3-8 3's, 0-4FT, 5Reb. 5Ast. 3Stl.
Adrian Beasley - - 11Pts. 4-4FG, 3-3 3's
Xavier Holloman - - 8Pts. 4-8FG, 9Reb. 2Blk. 2Stl.
Will Howard - - 7Pts. 2-5FG, 6Reb. 2Ast. 2Stl.
Dalon McHugh - - 6Pts. 3-7FG, 4Reb.

Kellam Knights 54: (0-2 Overall)
Janai Raynor-Powell - - 18Pts. (9Pts. 4thQ), 6-15FG, 5-6FT, 4Stl.
William Shook - - 13Pts. 6-10FG, 5Reb.
Kobe Copeland - - 12Pts. 4-4FG, 4-5FT, 6Reb. 3Blk.
Chris Schultz - - 6Pts. 2-3 3's

Matthew Hatfield has covered football and basketball since 2004 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 at 10AM on ESPN Radio 94.1, plus watch him on the Cox 11 Sports Report.

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