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February 11, 2014

Hurricanes Exact Revenge on Bulldogs

Final - - #1 Heritage 66, King's Fork 49:

Revenge was on the minds of the Heritage Hurricanes on Monday night when they welcomed in the visiting King's Fork Bulldogs from Suffolk. Six days earlier, Heritage took an L at The Kennel, falling 66-65 on a game-winner by Bulldogs sophomore point guard Deshaun Wethington.

This time, there would be no need for drama at the end as Heritage seized control from the start, blitzing to an 8-0 lead less than four minutes into the contest on their way to rolling past King's Fork, 66-49.

"There was a sense of anger because they beat us on a buzzer-beater and we really needed that win to get well above everybody in the conference," remarked Heritage sophomore guard Jermaine Marrow, who holds an offer from Hampton University.

Playing only his third game after missing the first 16 when he re-aggravated a hairline fracture in his right foot, Marrow served the role of sixth man. His return makes an already deep, athletic and talented team even more formidable and equipped to make a state title run.

"Coming off the bench, I just try to bring energy. I played the same role with Coach Robbie [Williams] in AAU coming off the bench," he added.

Marrow's steal and basket gave Heritage a 14-point lead late in the first quarter, and his brother Malik Marrow ran the point with no trouble as he posted six points, five boards and five assists in limited action. Moments later, it was senior forward Troy Gibson throwing down a slam and the Canes' advantage swelled to as many as 20 early in the second period.

Gibson along with Corey White and Romello Anderson, both of whom recorded double-doubles, cleaned the glass all night long for the Hurricanes.

"I think we did fairly well. We tried to get the ball inside to Corey, Troy, Melo and those guys. It set the tone for the rest of the game," commented Heritage Head Basketball Coach Mike Gardner.

With a win on Wednesday night over Nansemond River, Heritage can lock up the #1 seed for the Ironclad Conference Tournament that gets underway on February 17th at King's Fork.

"It's very important to get the #1 seed and I think we can do it," Marrow believes.

In their last meeting with the Warriors, Heritage used a 16-0 third quarter run to stun the Warriors at their place, 70-55 when Nansemond River was ranked #1 in the state in Group 4A. Heritage now is holding onto that top spot and doesn't want to give it up any time soon.

"I try to be up front with the guys so they can know exactly what's at stake. It's very important I go and pay attention to what we did, and hopefully we can do that again, at least to that magnitude," stated Gardner. "We had to take care of this one first so now I can go and focus on Nansemond River. I'm guaranteeing I'll be ready. Now, if my boys can be ready, we'll be straight."

Player of the Game: Heritage SF Romello Anderson - - The 6-foot-3 wing can be dynamic at times and showed his ability in a variety of ways against King's Fork, finishing with 18 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks while shooting 8-of-13 from the field.

Any one of four or five different players could've gotten the nod for Heritage. They put forth another balanced effort, one of the things that makes them so challenging for opponents to defend.

Even with a rough night shooting from three-point land (1-of-11) and the foul line (15-of-30), the Hurricanes maintained a double-digit advantage practically throughout and Anderson's play in the open floor definitely helped it happen.

Keys to Victory:

#1 - - Fast-Break Attack: King's Fork wasn't even truly able to get its defense set up in a matchup zone because of how fast Heritage was playing offensively. They got out and ran, attacking the hoop every chance they got.

"Last week when we played them, we were slowing the ball down and not playing our game," Marrow said. "This game, we played our game and the results speak for themselves."

Lay-ups and dunks were the norm, and King's Fork never solved the Hurricanes' lethal transition game.


#2 - - Block Party:
A total of 12 King's Fork shots that got sent up were swatted back. Heritage's athleticism in the front-court and length around the basket certainly contributed to King's Fork starting 0-for-9 from the field and making only two of their first 15 shots.

Gibson and Anderson had four blocks apiece. The Hurricanes' ability to contest and reject shots makes life rough for offenses.

"It's a real big deal," Gardner admitted. "I was fussing at Troy afterwards and said, 'you don't have any fouls dude.' I don't like seeing teams make layups when we're up 20. You've got to be physical and protect the basket. If we can get that mentality, I think we can go a long way, especially with Corey and Troy."


#3 - - Create Points off Turnovers:
Through one quarter of play, Heritage forced King's Fork into eight turnovers. That's approximately the same total they had the entire game in their previous meeting. To no surprise, Heritage held a 22-8 advantage after one quarter of play and made 9-of-19 from the field.

"I thought we were pretty good defensively and that's the whole key to our offense," Gardner said. "We were swarming. When we're doing that, we're really good. I think those guys were sort of surprised that we were at those spots when the ball arrived. On the back side, we rotated today much better."

For the game, King's Fork turned it over 23 times and 14 in the first half. Heritage jumped the Bulldogs with a handful of different guards, using the Marrow brothers, Marcus Van Hook, Michael Duncan, Justin Fantleroy, Devin Brailsford and Lorenzo Judkins. That rotation gives Gardner plenty of options.

"One thing we are deep at is the guard position. With the guards we have, I don't think anybody can play with us," believes Marrow.


Postgame Audio with Heritage Coach Mike Gardner


Final Stats:

Heritage Hurricanes 66: (15-4; 7-1)
Romello Anderson - - 18Pts. 8-13FG, 2-6FT, 11Reb. 3Ast. 4Blk.
Troy Gibson - - 11Pts. 5-10FG, 1-2FT, 9Reb. 4Blk.
Corey White - - 10Pts. 3-6FG, 4-4FT, 10Reb. 2Blk. 2Stl.
Marcus Van Hook - - 10Pts. 4-13FG, 2-2FT, 2Stl.
Malik Marrow - - 6Pts. 2-3FG, 2-3FT, 5Reb. 5Ast. 2Stl.

King's Fork Bulldogs 49: (11-9; 4-4)
Dale Roscoe - - 12Pts. 5-11FG, 2-2FT, 8Reb.
Deshaun Wethington - - 8Pts. 4-10FG, 2Reb. 4Ast.
Justin Chicot - - 8Pts. 2-10FG, 2-5 3's, 2-2FT, 2Stl.
Akil Freeman - - 7Pts. 0-2FG, 7-8FT, 3Reb.

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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