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January 4, 2014
#2 Maury Wins at #3 Green Run
Final - - #2 Maury 52, #3 Green Run 38
In front of a packed to capacity crowd at Green Run High School, the visiting Maury Commodores rolled in a defensive slugfest with the host Stallions, 52-38 in the conference opener for both teams.
Green Run, ranked #3 in the latest VirginiaPreps.com 5A Top Ten, came in undefeated at 8-0 overall. The Stallions were beating team by an average of 24.3 points per game. Meanwhile, Maury, ranked #2 in the 5A Top Ten, was 8-1 overall, coming off a 67-48 loss to nationally-ranked Cape Henry in the Championship of the Norfolk Scope Holiday Invitational Basketball Tournament last Saturday.
In the eyes of longtime Coach Jack Baker, a man with 679 career wins (most among any active sideline boss in the state), this was the one that mattered most.
"We threw it away. Forget about that one and get back to work," Baker said in reference to the Cape Henry loss. "As I told them in the locker room, it's one game and we've got a bigger game tonight, talking about Green Run, than the game against Cape Henry was to us."
After grabbing the lead at the 6:30 mark of the first quarter, Maury never relinquished their advantage. They led by double-digits for nearly the entire second half. Green Run had two chances to pull within six on three-pointers, but misfired on consecutive possessions, and the Commodores went on an 8-0 spurt to stretch the deficit to 15.
There was a skirmish late in the game, resulting in both Maury senior Jaleel Ferguson and Green run senior Shaun James (an ECU football commit) receiving double technical fouls.
According to Coach Baker, the referees told him that Ferguson was ejected for throwing a punch and will sit out one game, while James was tossed for was they deemed as fighting, meaning he would sit two games. There is the possibility for an appeal on either side that could reduce the suspension.
Even though Maury prevailed, the sentiment afterward was that they can play at a much higher level, something they know it will require to make a serious run at a state title.
"We struggled offensively," Baker admitted. "I thought we struggled against Cape Henry, didn't shoot the ball well. Tonight, we struggled to get open looks and make them. That's on me and we'll work to get better."
Player of the Game: Maury G Mike Basnight - - On the night, the senior guard finished up with 13 points on 4-of-13 shooting from the field, 2-for-7 from three-point distance, and four assists. He made as much of an impact defensively as offensively, covering Green Run star Tyler Blount and holding him below his scoring average of 18 a game, plus limited his shot opportunities.
"We told Mike don't leave him. That was his responsibility to shadow him wherever he went," Baker noted.
In addition, Basnight made four steals, disrupting the Stallions' dribble penetration and not allowing them to get in a flow offensively. It was a game where nobody really stood out offensively, and key plays on the defensive side of the ball often led to critical buckets.
Keys to Victory:
#1 - - Lockdown Stallions' Stars: Coming in for Green Run, the headliners were Blount and senior wing Jamaal Matin, who entered averaging 17 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three blocks a contest. Combined, the two scored 21 points on 6-of-23 shooting.
Without them hitting near their average, Green Run, which came in averaging 65.6PPG as a team, finished well below that mark.
"I thought defensively we were pretty good," Baker said. "I thought we did a good job on Blount and a pretty good job on Matin as well."
On many occasions, Maury successfully chased them off the three-point line, and they crowded their space when they did catch it behind the arc. Eliminating the 3 ball was a major part of their winning formula. Furthermore, the Commodores created 16 turnovers and capitalized just enough to keep their distance from the Stallions.
Maury was able to control the backboards thanks to 6-foot-6 senior power forward/center Shyheim Draughan and 6-foot-5 forward Jaleel Ferguson as well as 6-foot-2 sophomore wing Anthony Williams and 6-foot-3 senior wing Keon Buchanan, who was facing his old school Friday night.
"[We] did a great job rebounding the basketball, particularly the first half," believed Baker. "We wanted them to work for every shot they got, and when they did get a shot, make sure we had a hand up. For the most part, I thought we did a great job."
Even from the guard spot, freshman point Matt Coleman collected eight boards to go with his outstanding craftiness and a couple of tremendous moves off the dribble with the ball in his hands. Green Run didn't have anyone in double-figures in boards.
Draughan notched seven points and four boards off the pine. David Reed and Jalon Williams chipped in seven points, and the Commodores were able to sub without seeing any serious drop off in their play. Every time Green Run got close to making a run, Maury cut them off, often doing so with one of those backups in the game providing quality minutes.
"That's the way we have to play. We're up-tempo and people are going to get tired," Baker stated. "We're going to need those six, seven, eight guys come off the bench and contributing."
Commodores 52: (9-1; 1-0)
Run Stallions 38: (8-1; 0-1)
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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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