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February 6, 2014

Stallions Edge Norview, Move to 15-4

Final - - #8 Green Run 55, Norview 50:

Playing their final home game of the regular season on Wednesday night, the Green Run Stallions gave their fans something to cheer about by gutting out a 55-50 win over the visiting Norview Pilots in a 5A-South Conference 9 matchup.

With the victory, Green Run moved a step closer towards securing the #2 seed for the conference tournament that gets underway on February 14th. After seeing a 16-point lead in the second quarter evaporate late in the third quarter, the Stallions closed it out with a 21-point fourth period that included 7-of-11 shooting from the foul line and a pair of critical three-pointers.

"I'm positive about the win," said a relieved Green Run Head Basketball Coach Kenneth Harris afterwards. "I told them that Norview as long as they can shoot 3's and they press, they're going to be in the game because we knew they would attack us and get aggressive. They're not going to quit. Our goal was to slow them down and we didn't want to speed them up."

Out of the gate, Green Run came out hot by making 8-of-18 from the field and saw six different players score with seniors Tyler Blount and Shaun James, an East Carolina football signee, scoring four apiece in the opening quarter. Blount went on to score a game-high 19 points, despite a somewhat off night shooting the ball for him - 6-of-21 from the field.

Norview was dealt a big blow in the second quarter when sophomore Jaylen Frazier, one of their starters and top scorers, was ejected for throwing an elbow. The Stallions' advantage swelled to 25-9 on a Blount there-pointer, but Norview closed the half with five straight points to pull within 11 at the half.

The Pilots had some things go their way in the statistics as their bench outscored Green Run's 29-2, thanks in large part to Damion Madison (14 points) and Daevon Brown, who recorded a double-double with 11 points and 15 rebounds. Brown pulled down 10 offensive boards. In addition, Norview committed only six turnovers for the game and just one over the final 24 minutes compared to 16 turnovers by Green Run with 11 of them coming in the second half.

"They tried to steal it from us at the end, but we just tightened up and got it done on the defensive end when we needed to," said Green Run senior Edward Gordon, who rose to the occasion in the fourth quarter with seven of his 15 points.

Norview, which fell to 12-6 overall and 5-4 in conference play, had trouble at the free-throw line. At one point, they were 6-of-16 at the charity stripe and didn't find a great outside shooting rhythm, going 4-for-24 from three-point land. It marked their second loss of the season to Green Run, losing to the Stallions at home 59-51 in January.

Now 15-4 overall and 7-2 in conference play, Green Run is now five victories away from their first 20-win campaign since 1995-96 when former Super Bowl Champion Plaxico Burress starred for the Stallions. What will it take for them to get there and make noise in the postseason?

"Boxing out, defensive and offensive rebounding, half-court defense, being able to finish lay-ups and free-throws," Gordon noted. "Those are the main things we have to work on to be successful. We're on a winning streak now and as long as we do those things we're supposed to, I think we'll be alright."

Player of the Game: Green Run SG Edward Gordon - - The 6-foot-4 senior shooting guard shot an efficient 7-of-9 from the field, including a perfect 3-for-3 in the game's final quarter on his way to providing 15 points and much-needed offensive punch down the stretch.

As the season has progressed, he's developed into a reliable complementary option at the offensive end to their leading scorers Blount and Jamaal Matin.

"I feel as a role player I should be able to hit open shots, so I just work on it in practice," Gordon said. "I was feeding off my teammates' energy and thought the defense was worried about our big two (Tyler and Jamaal) and knew I had to step up."

Gordon's confidence has been up in the past month, and as a result, so too have his minutes.

"I believe since Kempsville, Edward Gordon has been playing excellent ball, averaging about 13-14 points over our last five or six games," remarked Harris. "He's really stepping up."

In the game vs. Kempsville that Coach Harris references, Gordon scored 20 of his 22 points in the first half alone and collected eight rebounds.

Keys to Victory:

#1 - - Transition Game: What allowed Green Run to build a big lead was how they started off with their fast-break attack. The Stallions scored on several lay-ups, pushed the pace and weren't shy at all about driving it to the hole.

"We've been working at it and I think we're going to get better," Harris said of the team's transition game. "We really looked good at the beginning, defensively and offensively. It caught them by surprise how we were finishing. As long as Norview was 11 points down, I told them they're two three-pointers away from being in the ballgame."

Out of their first 18 field goal attempts, Green Run shot 16 of those shots inside the three-point arc. They entered the second quarter with a 16-5 lead.


#2 - - Defend & Hit the Glass:
Holding Norview to just five points in a quarter and 14 for a half is a great job considering that the Pilots were averaging 68.7 points per game coming into Wednesday's contest. In fact, their 50 for the game marked the team's second lowest output of the year, only slightly more than the 48 they scored on Granby in a win. Their third lowest total was 51, also in a loss to Green Run.

Defense is Green Run's forte. No team in all of Group 5A in the state is giving up fewer points per game than their 43.4PPG allowed.

"The first half, I felt we really stepped up defensively. The second half, we had some miscues, but every possession is important and our guys rebounded well down the stretch," Harris stated.

Rebounding certainly plays a large part in their defensive success, spearheaded by Matin. A versatile 6-foot-4 senior wing who's capable of playing all five positions on the floor, Matin grabbed a game-high 17 rebounds, eight in the last eight minutes of the game.

"That's the second game in a row he's had double-digit rebounds for us. He's a big utility player for us," Harris admitted. "We definitely have to work on rebounding more and boxing out, but when you have a player like Jamaal who's determined that he's not going to let us lose, he'll get the rebound and come from half-court to get a rebound if he has to."


#3 - - Composure Late: Green Run's experienced shined through in the closing minutes against a Pilots team full of underclassmen that are key contributors. After all, the Stallions have 10 seniors on the roster, four in the starting lineup.

Harris is hopeful that his upperclassmen make the most of their last postseason journey before some of them head off to the next level.

"The good thing about our kids is the senior leadership. Two years ago, we would've folded up," he admitted. "But I think our seniors showed composure."

Postgame Audio with Green Run Coach Kenneth Harris


Final Stats:

Green Run Stallions 55: (15-4; 7-2)
Tyler Blount - - 19Pts. 6-21FG, 3-9 3's, 4-7FT, 5Reb.
Edward Gordon - - 15Pts. 7-9FG, 5Reb.
Sterling Carrington - - 7Pts. 3-5FG, 7Reb.
Jamaal Matin - - 6Pts. 3-7FG, 17Reb. 5Ast.
Shaun James - - 6Pts. 2-6FG, 2-2FT, 3Reb.

Norview Pilots 50: (12-6; 5-4)
Damion Madison - - 14Pts. 5-17FG, 1-5 3's, 3-6FT, 4Stl.
Daevon Brown - - 11Pts. 5-14FG, 15Reb. (10Off.), 2Stl.
Greg Heckstall - - 11Pts. 4-14FG, 1-9 3's, 5Reb.
Willie White - - 7Pts. 2-7FG, 2-5 3's, 2Stl.

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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