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March 6, 2014
Maury Tops Henrico, Wins 5A-South
Region Tournament Championship:
The Maury Commodores had a bump in the road when they camp up empty-handed at the Conference 9 Tournament Championship at the Norfolk Scope, falling to Green Run to see their 14-game winning streak snap. But Maury has bounced back in a major way with three straight double-digit wins, including one over Green Run in the regional semis, to push their record to 25-2 overall, and in the process, capture the school's first regional crown since 2003.
"You hate to lose, but sometimes it helps you. When Green Run beat us in the Conference Final, I think it was a little wake-up call for us," believes Maury Head Basketball Coach Jack Baker. "I told them we got out-hustled that game by Green Run and they've responded very well these past two games."
During their 61-49 triumph, Maury used a 19-11 second quarter spurt to go from down a pair at the end of the first quarter to go ahead by six against the reigning AAA State Champion Henrico Warriors on Wednesday night in the regional title game at Churchland High School in Portsmouth. Maury dug in with its defense in the second half, holding Henrico to just 22 points over the final 16 minutes of play.
In that second half, Maury 8-of-15 from the field. For the game, they hit on 52.4% of their attempts and outscored Henrico 21-5 in points off turnovers. The Commodores were able to get it done without injured 6-foot-6 senior forward Shyheim Draughan, whose season is over with a broken kneecap.
It was a balanced attack for Maury with four different players scoring in double-figures, led by freshman point guard Matt Coleman's 15 points and five assists. Jaleel Ferguson added 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting from the floor and grabbed seven boards. Henrico's top two scorers, sophomore wing De'Monte Buckingham and junior shooting guard Ryan Pearson, were held to 21 total points and only one three-point make.
With 695 career wins now, Baker knows his Commodores are closing in on doing something that the school hasn't achieved since 1927. That is capture a state title on March 14th in Richmond.
"I think we're peaking at the right time," said Baker. "The last two games, we've really played well. We've got to continue it for another week and see what happens."
Player of the Game: Maury PG Matt Coleman - - Who else? The freshman point guard delivered some spectacular moments yet again. In about a three or four minute stretch in the second quarter, he simply took over the game by making a couple of critical plays defensively, throwing a gorgeous no-look pass on an alley-oop thrown down by his teammate in Ferguson, and had no trouble scoring when all else failed.
"He is something special. You're kind of sitting there, particularly when we've got a pretty comfortable lead, and see what he's going to try to do next to get the crowd into it. He's playing very, very well right now and is tough to handle. He's always focused and never loses his focus, regardless of the situation."
Henrico Head Coach Vance Harmon knew his guys were in trouble when Coleman began to size control.
"From an offensive perspective, Coleman is the biggest disruption," Harmon noted. "He is so monopolizing of the game's flow like a Cat Barber that once they get a lead deep in the game, they can almost choke you out. Your team better be in front with four minutes to go or you are heading for desperate times."
Keys to Victory:
#1 - - Diagnose the Defenses: Over the years, Henrico has been wildly successful at mixing it up with their defenses and they threw several different looks at Maury. For starters, they used a box-and-one, a triangle-and-two, and also used a 2-3 zone.
Maury sank three shots from long distance in the second quarter courtesy of Coleman as well as subs David Reed and Daevon Young, who combined to chip in 13 points and not miss from long distance.
"Henrico gave us some problems with the way they change defenses," admitted Baker. "I thought Matt did a good job of recognizing what they were in, getting us in our right sets and we had some kids step up and make some big shots in that second quarter that gave us a little breathing room."
"Now is the time for them to step up and play well," Baker said. "We lost Shyheim for the rest of the year and it's really vital for us that we get some production from particularly those two guys. Both of them are very capable."
Williams tallied 10 points and seven rebounds, making his presence felt most on the backboards with six offensive boards. Buchanan scored six of Maury's first eight points and was 5-of-9 from the floor in 16 minutes of action.
Maury will definitely miss Draughan this week, meaning their wings have to continue to raise their numbers against quality competition.
"Saturday, he would've been in there," Baker commented of Draughan. "He was our leading rebounder and a good shot blocker. We've got to make up for it in other ways, and hopefully Buchanan and Anthony can help in that situation."
In the first half against Maury, he had eight points and eight rebounds, well on his way to another huge night. He was only 3-of-10 shooting though, and it didn't get much better for him in the second half, going 1-for-2 and finishing 4-for-10 from the foul line along with a season-high nine turnovers.
Maury clogged his drive lanes and took him out of the equation rather immediately in the third quarter. He would collect only one rebound in the second half
Re-Matches Await for Maury & Henrico: It remains to be seen if Maury and Henrico will hook up again in the 5A State Championship at VCU on March 14th, but we do know fans will get to see two other re-matches from the past with their next opponents.
Maury takes on Potomac at ODU in Saturday's State Semis at 7:00 PM. The Panthers were undefeated until a loss to Wakefield in the 5A-North Region Championship. Potomac and Maury have squared off before, just two years ago in the Fourth Annual VirginiaPreps.com Classic at Virginia Wesleyan College. Maury won that meeting 59-45.
While the Panthers and Commodores have a few parts each that played in that game, the teams are a bit different.
"We've got to keep playing defense. They present some different problems than probably we've seen all year with their size," Baker said of Potomac. "We're going to have to adjust to that and find other ways to attack the rim. When you get to this level, every game is going to present different challenges because there aren't any bad teams left."
For Harmon, he's glad in a lot of ways that he won't have to play Maury or Potomac until the State Championship round, provided they can win in the State Semis.
"I thought Maury and Potomac are the toughest teams that we have played this year," Harmon stated. "Each has clear cut strengths. With Potomac, they're long, athletic, skilled, best player is a combo guy in the 'do-it-all' Haynes. Maury's athletic, skilled and battle-tested from the Eastern Region, where their best player is the floor general in Coleman."
Back in the 2005 AAA State Tournament quarterfinals, Wakefield eliminated Henrico 63-45 when the Warriors were undefeated. Playing at Robinson, the same venue as that encounter nine years ago, Henrico is looking to get the better of them this time.
"I'm really impressed with how hard they play," Harmon said of Wakefield. "[Tony] Bentley has established a great program in Northern Virginia. You can count on them being in the mix each year. His players have bought into their style of play and your teams will have to make plays to give yourself a chance."
Final Stats: *** Courtesy of Colin Murphy & STATVA (www.statva.com ***
Commodores 61: (25-2)
Warriors 49: (21-6)
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@example.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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