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January 15, 2014

#4 Colonial Forge Cruises to 10-1

Final - - #4 Colonial Forge 80, Mountain View 49:

Making a move up to #4 in the state in Group 6A, the Colonial Forge Eagles entered Tuesday night's out-of-conference tilt with reigning Northwest Region Champion Mountain View looking to solidify the feeling that they are a team that can make a deep postseason run in 2014. After outscoring the visiting Wildcats by 24 in the second half en route to a 80-49 blowout, the Eagles pushed their record to 10-1 overall.

Colonial Forge used an 11-0 run, sparked by dunks from juniors Winston Burgess and Gary Jennings, to go in front and never looked back from there. The Eagles got off to a hot shooting start, connecting on 4-of-8 three-pointers. Six-foot-4 junior shooting guard Marco Haskins led the hot outside shooting barrage with three treys less than eight minutes into the contest.

Haskins scored 11 points in the opening quarter for an Eagles team that not only had its highest scoring output of the season, but surpassed their average by nearly 23 points.

"Coach told us to come out and share the ball, set our feet and if you're wide open, shoot it," stated Haskins, who believed their defensive intensity was what created a couple of steals that triggered the team's burst.

"We come out every day in practice and work on shell drill. That's why our team defense is where it's at right now. Our offense is always going to be there. That one dunk Winston really got us going [and] got the crowd hype."

On the night, Colonial Forge was able to force 18 turnovers and many resulted in lay-ups or transition hoops the other way. Coming in, the Eagles were holding foes to just 42.2 points per game, and although Mountain View was able to exceed that amount, they shot only 4-of-20 from long distance.

"Any time our guys can get their hands on the ball, get in the passing lanes, create a turnover and then get out and run we try to do," stated third-year Colonial Forge Head Basketball Coach Jason John afterwards.

"I'm really proud of the boys defensively. We're trying to sell them on defense and rebounding wins games. With starting those four sophomores last year, they're now all juniors and have that experience under their belt of 23 games and 15 wins. We're looking to build on that this year."

Senior point guard Lucas Brown, the Northwest Region Player of the Year and an All-State performer a season ago, led the Wildcats with 24 points. He made three consecutive three-pointers to close the third period to pull his team within 11. Colonial Forge answered by starting the fourth quarter with one of their eight three-pointers, that one courtesy of senior and two-sport athlete Damen Daniel.

After watching their football team finish two wins shy of a state title this past December, spirits are high at Colonial Forge. Under the VHSL's new setup, the team looks to be in position to make plenty of noise and sit as the favorite in 6A-South Conference 4.

Their team, which consists mostly of underclassmen as they have six juniors and four sophomores along with a freshman and three seniors on the roster, is eager to take on the challenges that may await them.

"We learned from last year to keep our cool because that's how we lost our first playoff game to Riverbend," stated Haskins. "Our chemistry keeps getting better and better."

Player of the Game: Colonial Forge SG Marco Haskins - - On a solid 7-of-14 from the field and 4-for-8 from long distance, Haskins put up 23 points and did it without dominating the ball. In fact, he became more of a facilitator and playmaker by getting his teammates involved early in the third quarter on his way to dishing out seven assists.

"It came to me as the game progressed. I kind of learned not to force my game and let the game come to me. I guess that's where the sharing the ball and assists came in at," stated Haskins, the team's second leading rebounder as a sophomore. "I've got to keep rebounding to help my team out."

Haskins was able to hit the backboards with eight rebounds, seven on the offensive end. That gave his team multiple chances, extended possessions and really hurt Mountain View's defense in an effort to keep the game played at the pace they wanted, which was in the half-court.

Keys to Victory:

#1 - - Attack the 1-3-1 with Patience: One of the main reasons Mountain View has been successful is their 1-3-1 zone defense that often bothers teams and causes opponents to rush into mistakes. Colonial Forge didn't get baited into silly errors and patiently went at it when they needed to while striking from deep.

"Coach was actually telling us that we had to attack it, but we came out shooting. I hit the first one, was feeling it and just kept shooting," noted Haskins.

By pushing the ball and doing so under control, Colonial Forge got easy buckets. When Mountain View switched its defense to more of a 2-1-2 type of zone trap look, the Eagles were stymied for a couple trips late in the second quarter. When the third period started, they effectively penetrated and kicked to the right guys for high-percentage looks.


#2 - - Control the Backboards:
Coach Kevin Brown of Mountain View was seen in the second half pleading with is team to compete better on the glass and get some rebounds. Colonial Forge seemed to get all of them and the critical ones. The Eagles collected 21 offensive rebounds and held the Wildcats to 17 total rebounds for the contest.

While Colonial Forge made outside shots at a high clip and scored points off turnovers, finishing +15 on the backboards proved to be equally important.

"Rebounding is a strong point for us, another thing we try to hammer out in practice. We're very fortunate that we have guards that are our leading rebounders. Gary does a great job on the glass, Marco does a great job, and then Damen, Winston and Isaiah [Williams] coming off the bench hammer the glass every night."

Six different players had multiple rebounds for Colonial Forge, crashing the boards as a group about as well as Coach John could hope.


#3 - - Unselfish Play:
No stat was more telling than the fact Colonial Forge produced 24 assists on 30 field goals. They also went the entire third quarter without committing a turnover, outscoring Mountain View 25-19 in that period and building their lead up to 20 at one pint after Mountain View got the deficit down to four in the early moments of the second half.

"We always preach passing the basketball, sharing the basketball, getting it out of the guards' hands, getting it moving and finding the open man. They really did that tonight and that definitely has to be a season-high for us in assists," remarked John.

Postgame Audio with Colonial Forge Coach Jason John
Postgame Audio with Colonial Forge's Marco Haskins


Final Stats:

Colonial Forge Eagles 80: (10-1 Overall)
Marco Haskins - - 23Pts. 7-14FG, 4-8 3's, 5-8FT, 8Reb. 7Ast.
T.J. Flood - - 11Pts. 4-11FG, 4Reb. 4Ast.
Isaiah Williams - - 10Pts. 5-7FG, 7Reb.
Winston Burgess - - 9Pts. 4-6FG, 2Ast.
Gary Jennings - - 8Pts. 4-6FG, 6Reb. 2Ast.

Mountain View Wildcats 49: (7-6 Overall)
Lucas Brown - - 24Pts. 6-16FG, 4-12 3's, 8-13FT, 4Ast.
Elijah Burress - - 7Pts. 2-4FG, 4-4FT, 6Reb.
Darren Robinson - - 6Pts. 1-3FG, 4-4FT, 5Reb.
E.J. Fisher - - 6Pts. 3-7FG, 2Ast.

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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