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February 23, 2014

Menchville Wins PenSouth Tourney

5A-South PenSouth Conference 10 Tournament Championship:
Final - - #4 Menchville 65, #2 Warwick 52

Even though both teams had already secured spots in the 5A-South Region Tournament that will start on Tuesday, the Menchville Monarchs and Warwick Raiders wanted to go in with a winning taste in their mouths. The two split a pair of regular season meetings with Warwick winning the most recent encounter in overtime, storming the Monarchs' home court.

After losing three of four games by a total of nine points, the Monarchs have re-grouped in a strong way and the #4 seed took home the PenSouth Conference Tournament Championship on Saturday night with a 65-52 win over the Raiders.

Although the crowd at the Norfolk Scope was far from packed to capacity, there was plenty of anticipation amongst the players on the Newport News rivals. And of course, kids can't stay quiet for but so long.

"They started it off with some talking on our social networks. We really didn't say much. We don't like to say much outside of the court and like to let our game do the talking," remarked Menchville senior Devin Hinson, who got his team off to a solid start with nine points, seven rebounds and four assists in the first half as they bolted to 29-20 lead.

Menchville, which eliminated top-seeded Hampton in the conference semifinals, opened with a 7-0 advantage before Warwick junior guard Lewis Freeman responded with five points to draw the Raiders closer. From the second quarter on, Freeman made only 2-of-7 from the field and the Monarchs didn't let anyone else erupt.

"We know Lewis Freeman is very good. We understood that, did the best we could on him and let's be honest about it, it helped that he got in foul trouble," admitted veteran Menchville Head Basketball Coach Dennis Koutoufas, trying to take a third team to the State Tournament after leading Denbigh (1987) there as well as Heritage (2000, '02, '03). "They're a different team with him in there. But I thought we did a good job on the other players, and that's what we haven't been doing."

What Menchville also did was make their foul shots count. The Monarchs converted 19-of-22 at the charity stripe, including 11-of-12 in the fourth quarter to salt the game away.

Warwick, which fell to 13-11 overall in its first season under new Head Coach and former Kecoughtan assistant Willie Gause (who got his coaching start as an assistant with Koutoufas at Heritage), went nearly 14 minutes to start the game without a turnover. They committed four over the next six possessions to fall behind by nine, and it got up to 10 when the fourth quarter started when the Monarchs went on a mini 6-0 spurt to close the third period.

Up next for Warwick is a date with Maury, who's 22-2 overall and saw their 14-game winning streak snap in a 58-52 loss to Green Run in the Conference 9 Tournament Championship at Scope. It'll be the first region playoff game since 2008.

Menchville, now 18-6 overall, will make its third regional playoff trip in four years under Koutoufas. Their opponent is Green Run, who they edged in double-overtime in the regionals in 2012.

"That was a great game," recalled Koutoufas. "The one kid [Tyler] Blount is still there and is probably the only one we know. They're a very good team and were very impressive."

What would a win mean for the Monarchs?

"It would be another step towards making history at our school," answered Hinson. "We're more experienced as a team this year compared to last year and growing every game. As long as we stay together as a team, we'll keep going."


Player of the Game: Menchville PG Devin Hinson - -
Any one of three or four players for the Monarchs could've warranted being Player of the Game to be truthful. A two-year starter at the point, Hinson finished with 14 points, seven rebounds, six assists and only misfired on two shots all night long.

"I just let the game come to me naturally and play however it lets me," Hinson said. "What got it done for us was rebounding and defense."


Keys to Victory:

#1 - - Dominate the Backboards: For the evening, Menchville ended up with a convincing 34-18 advantage in the rebounding column. To go with Hinson's seven boards from the guard spot, junior power forward Elijah Murphy grabbed 13 rebounds to go with his 11 points and give him a double-double. Lanky junior center DeQuon Lake added five boards.

"Early in the game, some of our rebounders were taking long shots. They made the adjustment, started to get inside and we got a lot of offensive rebounds," Koutoufas pointed out. "That helped us a ton."

As for Warwick, second chance points were nowhere to be found. The Raiders came up with just one offensive rebound in the first half, four of them for the game.


#2 - - Balanced Scoring:
Six-foot-4 junior Richard Washington exploded for 34 points, 17 in the first quarter alone, and sank seven three-pointers when the Monarchs beat Hampton 69-59 earlier in the week to qualify for regionals. With the defense keeping close tabs on where Washington was at all times, that opened the door for others to shine, and the Monarchs have been extremely successful when all five players on the floor touch the ball and score.

"It's key to have that because it makes it so there's no one person they have to stop on our team,
"Hinson stated. "With that, there's no person they can double and say that'll make them win."

Menchville got a collective effort in the win over Warwick. While Washington was held to nine points, Hinson and fellow senior guard Tim Hewett scored 14 apiece with Hewett having 10 in the second half. Murphy and reserve Brandon Clary scored 11 each, and Lake chipped in six, highlighted by an alley-oop flush off a feed from Washington.

"I thought some guys off the bench did well. Brandon Clary is an example," Koutoufas agreed. "Some nights he doesn't get very much time at all. We got in foul trouble with Lake, he came in and was very, very productive."


#3 - - Beat the Press: Part of why Washington didn't have a huge night offensively was the role he was asked to play in this particular matchup. Basketball is a game of matchups and often times certain styles have an effect. For the Monarchs to come out on top, they couldn't have a boatload of turnovers against a Warwick team that likes to mix it up defensively and turn up the pressure.

"It wasn't Washington's game because they were pressing. He's throwing over the press. That means so much to us. He doesn't get as many points because of their press. That's just the way it is. And the other night, he had his big game," Koutoufas said.

"We did a good job. Once we got ahead, we knew if we could handle their press we would be okay."

Menchville had 12 turnovers, committing only three during the middle quarters, a 16-minute span. It was no coincidence that their lead doubled, from five to ten, in that stretch of time.


Postgame Audio with Menchville Coach Dennis Koutoufas


Final Stats:

Menchville Monarchs: (18-6)
Devin Hinson - - 14Pts. 4-6FG, 6-7FT, 7Reb. 6Ast.
Tim Hewett - - 14Pts. (10Pts. 2nd Half), 6-11FG
Elijah Murphy - - 11Pts. 2-5FG, 7-9FT, 13Reb.
Brandon Clary - - 11Pts. 4-6FG, 4Reb.
Richard Washington - - 9Pts. 3-11FG, 3Reb. 4Ast. 2Stl.
DeQuon Lake - - 6Pts. 3-6FG, 5Reb. 2Blk.

Warwick Raiders: (13-11)
Devante Taylor - - 14Pts. 5-9FG, 4-7FT
Ray Rawles - - 13Pts. 3-5FG, 5-6FT, 3Reb.
Lewis Freeman - - 11Pts. 4-11FG, 1-3 3's, 2-4FT
Calvin Green - - 9Pts. 4-4FG, 5Reb.

Malik Lowe - - 5Pts. 5-8FT, 6Reb.

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 at 10AM on ESPN Radio 94.1, plus watch him on the Cox 11 Sports Report.

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