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February 6, 2014

Hornets Sting #4 Norcom

Final - - Deep Creek 63, #4 Norcom 56:

On Tuesday night in Chesapeake, the Deep Creek Hornets were looking to spring the upset and did so when they stung the visiting Norcom Greyhounds, ranked fourth in the state in Group 4A, 63-56 in a pivotal conference matchup.

Deep Creek, which lost the January 14th matchup to the Greyhounds in Portsmouth by a count of 64-52, led from wire to wire, though saw a double-digit lead for much of the evening cut down to two with 31.4 seconds left when Norcom senior wing Antonio Parker drained a three-pointer. The Hornets responded by scoring the game's final five points, going 5-of-7 from the foul line in the final 30 seconds.

Norcom played without the services of sophomore point guard Travis Fields. He sat out with a hand injury. In his place, they relied even more on Parker and fellow senior Troy Locke, who was held to 14 points and battled foul trouble much of the contest. Parker scored a game-high 26 points and added 12 rebounds, four assists and five steals.

What kept the Greyhounds within striking distance was offensive rebounding. They pulled down 21 offensive rebounds, 13 in the first half alone. Deep Creek got steady contributions from all over as five different players scored seven points or more, led by 5-foot-10 senior guard D'Andre Mullen (17 points, 7 assists) and 6-foot-4 senior wing Marcellis Perkins (16 points, 9 boards).

"With Troy, Tony and Fields, Norcom's a tough team. I've got nothing but respect for them. We came out here, competed and this is a good win for us," stated Perkins, playing his first game back after missing the previous four due to a knee injury.

"We're a very hungry team. We want to build off momentum, take it one game at a time and keep working hard in practice so that we can keep moving forward until we reach our goals."

As Norcom made its comeback, Mullen hit a pair of crucial three-pointers in the fourth quarter to increase Deep Creek's lead. The Hornets got up as many as 14 with 3:58 to play before the Greyhounds reeled off a 15-3 run in a span of 3:26.

After beating Lake Taylor the very next night, Deep Creek moved to 12-6 overall and 5-2 in conference play to stay only one game back of the Greyhounds and Booker T. Washington in the loss column in 4A-South Conference 17. Norcom is 12-5 overall and 5-1 in conference competition.

For Deep Creek, they've now secured their first winning season since 2007-08 when they finished 21-6 overall and made it all the way to the Eastern Region Tournament semifinals, one victory shy of a State Tournament berth. Their last trip to the Playoffs came in 1990-91 when they were ousted by West Springfield 50-46 in the quarterfinals.

The Hornets have a rich basketball history and numerous standouts over the years, including current NBA player Michael Scott with the Atlanta Hawks. Returning the program to those heights and winning ways has been their goal from the start of this season.

"It's hard to compete with the Deep Creek history. It's one of the best in all of South Hampton Roads Virginia sports history," noted Perkins. "You always hear graduates come in and talk about what they used to do and we want to bring it back. Coach Ricks and the rest of the coaching staff are really trying to bring it back through hard work, dedication and no excuses. That's our motto."

Player of the Game: Deep Creek SG/SF Marcellis Perkins - - Considering it was his first game back from injury, it would've been no surprise to see Perkins come out a bit rusty. He, along with Mullen, who could've also been a worthy choice for Player of the Game, set the tone with their jumpers in the opening minutes.

Having him available to knock down free-throws down the stretch proved to be enormous, even more so when Jorge Concepion, one of their top three scorers along with Perkins and Mullen, fouled out at the 2:41 mark of the fourth quarter. Perkins' near double-double on 4-of-9 shooting from the field and 8-of-10 from the foul line certainly meant a lot. Playing in front of a few college coaches, he displayed a pure shooting stroke as well as patience and smarts on the floor.

"We're excited to have Marcellis Perkins back. He started off the season doing very well - shooting, rebounding and defending. Those four games that he didn't play, we really missed his contributions. He gave us that we expected and we're pleased with him," stated Deep Creek Head Coach Leroy Ricks.

"We had a college coach that came by and saw so much good and he asked me, 'Coach, what do you not like about him?' I told him that to be honest, he's too unselfish. Sometimes, he defers to other people."

Keys to Victory:

#1 - - Start Fast: Before Norcom ever got settled in, the Greyhounds trailed 9-2 and soon saw their star Locke on the bench due to foul trouble. Deep Creek didn't panic early when Norcom started to apply pressure and made sure they kept the game played predominantly in the half-court.

"It was about playing our game and not their game," Perkins said.

If Deep Creek doesn't come out shooting 46% through the first 10 minutes with Nocom going 3-for-16 in the opening quarter, maybe it's a different outcome. Their fast start went a long way towards them pulling out a win.

#2 - - Control Norcom's Outside Shooting:
When the Greyhounds are hitting on all cylinders shooting the ball, they're one of the very best in Hampton Roads. Deep Creek invited them to take some long, quick 3's, and unfortunately for Norcom, they weren't going in at all.

Norcom missed their first 14 three-point attempts and went 4-of-27 from long distance on the night. They kept Locke out of the paint and made him settle for jumpers, and no one outside of him and Parker did any damage behind the arc.

"We played a matchup zone, slowed them down and made them take outside shots. That was our game-plan and it worked for us," stated Perkins. "Jorge fouling out hurt us, but we're a team, we kept it together and we pick each other up."

Ricks was comfortable with them shooting from the perimeter as long as they didn't bludgeon them inside.

"All week, we've been telling the kids we want to work on strengthening our defense in the paint. In the six games that we've lost, four of them we gave up points in the paint too often," he commented.

"We reverted back to our matchup zone and emphasized keeping it out of the paint. I always tell them no team is going to beat you only shooting jump shots, and fortunately it fell our way, although they got hot late in the game."

#3 - - Find Unsung Heroes:
Even though the trio of Perkins, Concepcion and Mullen make the Hornets go, they knew they needed some impact plays from the supporting cast. Role players Blake Aughtman and Tre Williamson delivered.

In the early going, Williamson knocked down a couple of elbow jumpers and stretched the defense on his way to notching eight points, a couple boards and two assists.

"Tre Williamson is our senior athlete. He's a football player, basketball player and just goes as long as we let him go out on the floor," Ricks said. "I think he played more minutes than anybody tonight and he battles in the boards night in and night out while playing against bigger guys. He never complains and is a true competitor."

Aughtman got it done with his hustle, tallying seven points, including three fourth quarter free-throws, and came up with all six of his rebounds in the game's final stanza. Two of his offensive boards extended possessions and prevented Norcom from getting up a game-tying or game-winning shot at the end.

"Blake Aughtman is a 6-foot-3 junior guard/forward, second-year varsity player and he's one of our glue guys," remarked Ricks. "He doesn't light up anybody's highlight film or fill up the stat sheets, but he does those things that help you win ballgames. He gets the rebound when you need it, a crucial basket and we can run any of our offensive sets when he's in the game."

As Norcom found out, Deep Creek becomes even more difficult to defend when others outside the Hornets' main three weapons convert on their opportunities.

"Those are the type of guys that people don't really pay attention to and they have raw talent, especially Juwan Shelton, who came down with an injury, but that guy can shoot and we really missed him tonight," Perkins added.

Postgame Audio with Deep Creek Coach Leroy Ricks

Final Stats:

Deep Creek Hornets 63: (11-6; 4-2)
D'Andre Mullen - - 17Pts. 7-10FG, 3-3 3's, 7Ast.
Marcellis Perkins - - 16Pts. 4-9FG, 8-10FT, 9Reb.
Jorge Concepcion - - 12Pts. 4-8FG, 4-6FT, 6Reb. (Fouled Out)
Tre Williamson - - 8Pts. 4-7FG, 2Reb. 2Ast.
Blake Aughtman - - 7Pts. 2-6FG, 3-4FT, 6Reb.

Norcom Greyhounds 56: (12-5; 5-1)
Antonio Parker - - 26Pts. 8-22FG, 2-8 3's, 6-7FT, 12Reb. 4Ast. 5Stl.
Troy Locke - - 14Pts. 5-12FG, 2-6 3's, 2-4FT, 5Reb.
Travis Ingram - - 6Pts. 3-10FG, 3Reb. 3Blk.

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 [email protected], 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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