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March 13, 2014

LIVE 4A Championship Blog at VCU

11:05 PM: What a way to start off the three-day marathon of Championship games in the 2014 VHSL State Basketball Tournament at VCU's Siegel Center in the Verizon Wireless Arena. Richmond was definitely buzzing after Norcom's unbelievable comeback from 16 points down in the fourth quarter to stun Handley for the 4A State Championship.

Also taking home state titles were John Marshall Boys by a wide margin, the Lake Taylor Girls for a third time five years (like the Norcom Boys) and Spotswood Girls repeated as State Champs (like the Lake Taylor Girls). The main thing we take away from this is team that are used to being there before can see that go a long way, especially when it gets tight.

Below are the Final Scores from the 4A and 3A Championships as well as Postgame Sound from the Norcom/Handley clash. Don't forget that the 5A and 6A Championships take place on Friday (for the schedule of those games, see the bottom of this blog).


Postgame Audio with Norcom Coach Leon Goolsby
Postgame Presser with Norcom
Postgame Presser with Handley

10:21 PM: Championship #3 for Head Coach Leon Goolsby I.C. Norcom High School in Portsmouth must feel pretty sweet, and for tonight anyways, it'll be as enjoyable if not more so than their back-to-back crowns in 2010 and 2011. Norcom closed with a 31-10 flurry and turned a 16-point deficit in the fourth quarter into their third state title in five years. At one point, the Greyhounds scored 21 unanswered and got contributions from all over, maybe none bigger than backup senior guard Craig Ingram. He was one of four players that scored in double-figures for the Greyhounds, two off the bench.

For the Handley Judges, this one will sting for an awful while. They had a fine season, going 21-3 and reaching the state title game for the first time since the 1960's. In the end, they'll be thinking about what could've been.


Let's go over the Final Stats from this wild game at VCU . . .

Final Stats:

Norcom Greyhounds 59: (23-5 Overall)
Troy Locke - - 14Pts. 3-11FG, 8-12FT, 7Reb. 2Ast. 4Stl.
Antonio Parker - - 13Pts. 5-13FG, 3-4FT, 5Reb.
Travis Fields - - 12Pts. 3-9FG, 3-4 3's, 3-4FT, 4Reb. 4Stl.
Craig Ingram - - 10Pts. 4-5FG, 3Reb. 2Stl.
Travis Ingram - - 6Pts. 2-4FG, 2-5FT, 4Reb. 2Ast. 4Stl.
Greyhounds - - 19-47FG, 4-8 3's, 17-27FT, 33Reb. 6Ast. 14TO's, 0Blk. 17Stl.

Handley Judges 52: (21-3 Overall)
Cameron Jackson - - 20Pts. 9-14FG, 2-6FT, 8Reb. 2Ast. 4Stl.
Solomon Finley - - 13Pts. 5-9FG, 3-5 3's, 4Reb. 4Ast. 2Stl.
Jason Morgan - - 13Pts. 5-12FG, 3-6 3's, 2Reb. 2Ast.
Will Dearing - - 4Pts. 2-2FG, 3Reb. 2Ast.
Judges - - 22-44FG, 6-12 3's, 2-8FT, 28Reb. 11Ast. 21TO's, 4Blk. 10Stl.

We'll have a wrap-up coming soon, so stay tuned to your home for High School Hoops in Virginia and that's none other than VirginiaPreps.com!

10:18 PM: A huge three-pointer from Handley senior guard Jason Morgan cut the Norcom lead to 52-50 with 43 seconds to play. Oh by the way, in case you're now just joining the Live Blog, the Greyhounds were down 16 in the fourth quarter earlier and played like the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder wrapped into one to take the lead on a 21-0 run in what seemed to be the blink of an eye.

Travis Fields, sophomore sub for Norcom, made two foul shots to increase the advantage to 54-50. Cameron Jackson responds with two inside for Handley, which is running out of time and needs some missed free-throws to have a chance. Troy Locke hits two at the charity stripe to give Norcom a 56-52 lead that seems safe with 11.6 seconds to play.

An absolutely surreal comeback by Norcom in this game that words cannot do justice to explain. The Handley players have to feel heart-broken and devastated after the state title was well within their grasps.

10:13 PM: With 1:11 remaining, Norcom leads Handley 51-47 in a wild 4A State Championship to close out Thursday night, the first day of three days full of title games in the VHSL Basketball Tournament at the VCU Siegel Center.

Troy Locke's basket a moment ago for Norcom just followed up a three-pointer from Jason Morgan of Handley to push the Greyhounds up by four. For some unknown reason, Handley has gone away from what was working for them {which was Cameron Jackson attacking in the paint and Solomon Finley slashing in from the wing]. Norcom's defense has been locked in with incredible focus and tenacity since about the 6 minute mark of the fourth period.

Locke goes 1 of 2 at the line with 52 seconds left to push Norcom's lead to 52-47.

10:10 PM: This comeback by Norcom has been simply unbelievable. Moments into the fourth quarter, they looked like a dead team as they trailed 42-28 after a basket by Jason Morgan of the Judges. Insert Craig Ingram and he's been the catalyst for this remarkable rally for Norcom.

The 19-0 run for Norcom is over after KeSean Robinson scores with just over two minutes to play, but the Greyhounds can taste a title.

10:05 PM: Handley led by a count of 42-28 early in the fourth quarter and the Norcom Greyhounds are now within three after a three-pointer with 5:12 to play by Craig Ingram, a seldom-used reserve that is making the most of this spotlight.

What has enabled Norcom to get back in the ballgames besides their relentless defensive pressure is the fact that Handley got in the double-bonus early. However, the Greyhounds have yet (emphasis on yet) because of missed foul shots.

Norcom has suddenly tied the game on a basket by Craig Ingram. They now go in front on Ingram's bucket, plus he draws the foul. His brother, freshman Travis Ingram, gets a steal and scores.

The Norcom fans are simply going bananas here at the Siegel Center, and Handley Coach Jason Toton finally calls time-out. The Judges trail it 47-42 with 3:51 to play. This has been a remarkable 21-0 run by the Greyhounds, unlike any I can recall in recent memory.

10:01 PM: Things might be starting unravel for Handley just a tad, which is weird to say considering they are up by a count of 42-35 on Norcom with 5:39 to play in the 4A State Championship. Why is that? They were ahead by as many as 16 to start the fourth quarter. Norcom is on a run, triggered by its defense causing turnovers and their guards attacking the rim. Troy Locke just nailed two free-throws to pull his team closer. This is a very resilient bunch from the 757.

Off the bench, Craig Ingram has really given Norcom a pulse with his energy. Handley is starting to panic some for an odd reason against the defensive pressure that Norcom is applying. Even worse for the Judges, they have already committed 10 team fouls. That means the Greyhounds are in the double-bonus and will be shooting two free-throws the rest of the way.

Handley has lost its momentum and the question is can they re-gain it? To win a Championship, they'll have to do it with the Norcom fans starting to get loud in here at the Siegel Center.

9:55 PM: To start the fourth quarter off, Handley gets a basket from Jason Morgan, who has really been a serviceable sixth man for them with seven points off the bench to go with two assists. That's what senior guards are supposed to do in this spot, provide leadership, energy and instant offense off the bench. Norcom's fans that made the trip from Portsmouth badly want to get excited about something and reserve Craig Ingram, a senior that transferred from King's Fork, scores and is fouled going to the hoop.

Handley leads it 42-31 with 6:04 to go and Coach Jason Toton of the Judges knows it's too early to celebrate. His team takes a time-out, and they will probably look to spread the Greyhounds out here when they return to the floor with an emphasis on taking care of the ball, and going inside to Cam Jackson when single covered near the cup.

The duo of Jackson and Solomon Finley has combined for 31 compared to 15 total points from Norcom's dynamic tandem of Troy Locke and Antonio Parker.

9:51 PM: Not every year do you see a shot like the one we just witnessed to close the third quarter here at the Verizon Wireless Arena in the Stuart C. Siegel Center on the campus of VCU. Handley senior guard Jason Morgan just banked in a three-pointer from about 55 or 60 feet out, and the Judges' fans from Winchester that made the trip to Richmond absolutely exploded.

End 3Q in 4A State Championship - - Handley 40, Norcom 26

Norcom got a three-pointer from sophomore guard Travis Fields moments before that, but all the life got sucked out of the Greyhounds on that shot it seems. Handley is shooting 58.6% from the field so far, converting 17-of-29 shots. Norcom is shooting only 28.1% on 9-of-32. The numbers don't lie in this one, folks.

9:46 PM: It didn't take long for Handley to re-establish control when Norcom cut the once 14-point lead to nine. The Judges' lead is back up to 14 at 35-21 with 1:45 left in the third quarter as Wofford commit Cameron Jackson, the 4A-North Region Player of the Year trying to add State POY to his honors, scores inside and is fouled. He converts the three-point play at the charity stripe.

Credit Handley 6-foot-2 junior forward Will Dearing, who scored on the play before, on a great assists to Jackson. Troy Locke with a tough runner for Norcom and tries to make it two in a row, although he steps out of bounds. The Judges stay up double-figures, 35-23, with 1:07 to play in the third quarter and go back into their methodical style of offense to close out the third quarter like they did the second quarter potentially.

9:41 PM: Down by as many as 14 earlier in the third quarter, Norcom is starting to chip away by getting the tempo up, which we noted in the previous entry was paramount to make a rally. It started with Antonio Parker getting fouled, and then 4A-South Region Player of the Year Troy Locke took a hard spill going to the basket. He made 1-of-2 free-throws before the Greyhounds were called for an offensive foul.

Handley's advantage is 28-19 with just under four minutes to go in the third quarter, but the Judges must be careful not to start playing too fast and out of character, taking rushed, ill-advised sots. Stick with the game-plan and punch the ball inside.

9:35 PM: The Handley Judges are two quarters away from capturing their first ever State Championship if they can stay ahead against a Norcom Greyhounds team that has won the crown twice since 2010. Sophomore guard Travis Fields, who came off the bench to start the game and in the last game, hits a three-pointer to cut into the deficit. Handley comes right back with Cameron Jackson, the 6-foot-8 Wofford commit who was the 4A-North Region Player of the Year, and senior wing Solomon Finley.

A tough runner by Finley pushes the Judges' lead to 26-15 with 5:39 to play in the third period. Jackson then gets a tip-in and is fouled. A three-point play can push the advantage to 14 with 4:50 to go in this third quarter.

Norcom clearly has to get the tempo up and make this a transition game to stage a comeback because right now they look lackluster in the half-court, which is what Handley wants this game to be played at for the duration it appears.

9:28 PM: All you Blog Fans out there, we unfortunately did not get a half-time stat sheet (that's the price you pay sometimes), but don't worry, we'll have Final Numbers later.

Here are some key things of note that we can tell you . . .

Solomon Finley is leading the way with 11 points for Handley, picking up the slack considerably when Cam Jackson (8Pts.) when out due to foul trouble. Norcom has been led by Antonio Parker's 6 points, but Troy Locke has only 3 and that's well under his average for a half. Per game, he's hitting for around 20 a contest.

Handley has controlled the tempo and the backboards thus far. Norcom has to take re-control by playing with added intensity and focus on the offensive end, driving to the hoop and getting to the foul line.

Second half about to get underway with Handley in front by a count of 21-12 . . .

9:22 PM: What a superb close to the first half in the 4A State Championship for Jason Toton's Handley Judges, who finish the second quarter on a 12-0 run over the last five minutes, capped on a fall-away three-pointer from Solomon Finley in the corner. Norcom has to be very discouraged with how poorly they offense performed late in the second quarter and unable to create points off turnovers.

4A State Championship at the Half - - Handley 21, Norcom 12

We'll have stats coming in a jiffy . . . don't go anywhere!

9:18 PM: The Norcom Greyhounds are finding themselves in sort of a malaise offensively as they've hit a lull and Handley is starting to get the offense going as Cam Jackson is operating well in the paint, while Solomon Finley strikes from three-point land to push the Judges' lead to 18-12 with 2:18 to go in the second quarter.

Since that dunk early in the second period, Norcom has scored just three points, which came on a three-pointer from Travis Fields. They've got only two field goals and a lot of their off-balanced shots aren't falling, while Handley is cleaning up the glass. Coach Jason Toton's team is controlling tempo well now, too. They are keeping Norcom out of transition and content to play a deliberate game with Jackson on the bench with two fouls.

9:13 PM: To start the second quarter, Norcom takes the lead on a dunk from senior wing Antonio Parker. When he plays efficient at the offensive end with few turnovers and takes smart shots, the Greyhounds generally win, sometimes with ease. When he doesn't, they have major problems.

Handley is able to tie it up at 9 on a post up score inside, but the Greyhounds return the favor with a three-pointer from the sophomore guard Travis Fields whose return to the team from injury in their last game was a huge boost. The Judges aren't backing down and take the lead on a Cameron 'Bam-Bam' Jackson score inside; he's got eight of his team's 12 points already.

A jumper from Solomon Finley increases Handley's advantage to three at 15-12, and that is followed by steals from Jackson of the Judges and Norcom's Troy Locke, the two guys likely battling it out for the State Player of the Year honors in 4A.

9:06 PM: At the end of the first quarter, it's a stalemate as Norcom and Handley are deadlocked. Handley has turned it over too much, six times in fact, after scoring the first two buckets to build a 5-0 lead. Norcom responded with strong defense to end the half, and Antonio Parker's first field goal tied the score.

End 1stQ - - Norcom 7, Handley 7

The Greyhounds shot only 3-of-15 from the floor, but Coach Leon Goolsby must be pleased to be tied because they competed on the offensive backboards with five, four of them by reserve junior forward Terrell Camp as one of those garbage guys we touched on in the Preview. It seems like Norcom is on the verge of a run and Handley has to get something going offensively or else it could be trouble real fast real soon.

9:02 PM: In the early going, I've been impressed with how well Handley has defended Norcom in the painted area. A lot of that has to do with Cameron Jackson altering and changing shots around the cup. Norcom has missed some shots that they normally make and knocked down going towards the bucket last Saturday. But Handley isn't making them pay at the other end as Jackson misses to foul shots going to the tin and the Judges' lead is slim at 7-5 with a minute left in the opening quarter.

Only two players have scored for Norcom and two for Handley. Needless to say, it's a defensive struggle (or is that rather an offensive struggle?) so far.

8:57 PM: Handley has started off on a good note with senior wing Solomon Finley hitting a three-pointer, followed by a deuce inside from Wofford commit Cameron Jackson to claim a 5-0 lead. That's good news for Coach Jason Toton with Finley striking because he had 23 points in the regional title game against GW-Danville, but was scoreless in the State Semis vs. Glen Allen. Jackson can be a load in the paint for anyone, even a team with the athletes that Norcom possesses.

The Greyhounds get on the board on a three-point play the old-fashioned way from 4A-South Region Player of the Year Troy Locke. A couple of missed lay-ups from senior wing Antonio Parker, who was efficient last Saturday at ODU in the State Semis vs. GW-Danville, sends him to the bench as Coach Leon Goolsby goes to his bench early, bringing in the likes of Kenneth Duke, Jamelle Strange and sophomore point guard Travis Fields, the sparkplug in their last win.

8:50 PM: We're about to tip-off between the 4A-South Region Champion Norcom Greyhounds and the 4A-North Region Champion Handley Judges. These two teams have had state title aspirations since way back when the season started, but only one team will take the title at the end.

By the way, I think I may be the only person or definitely one of the few that is picking Handley to win. Polled about seven or eight people before the game and most are going with the Greyhounds, and understandably so given their recent postseason success with back-to-back state titles in 2010 and 2011.

8:18 PM: The Lake Taylor Lady Titans have completed a repeat, capturing back-to-back State Championships and their third title in five years as they held off a William Fleming team that got hot from three-point territory in the third quarter thanks to a suffocating defensive effort that created 28 turnovers. Lake Taylor's 14-1 surge to close the third quarter and start the fourth quarter proved to be the difference.

Here are the numbers from the title bought . . .

Final Stats:

Lake Taylor Lady Titans 57: (22-4 Overall)
Joanne Williams - - 15Pts. 5-16FG, 5-13FT, 12Reb. 3Ast. 2Blk. 3Stl.
Endia McKinney - - 14Pts. 6-16FG, 16Reb. 3Stl. (Fouled Out)
Taylor Whitley - - 13Pts. 5-12FG, 2-6 3's, 6Reb. 2Stl.
Kyara Cooper - - 7Pts. 2-11FG, 2-9 3's, 4Ast. 3Stl.
Carlesha Farris - - 6Pts. 2-6FG, 2Reb. 3Stl.
Lady Titans - - 21-67FG, 7-25 3's, 8-23FT, 48Reb. 9Ast. 19TO's, 3Blk. 16Stl.

William Fleming Lady Colonels 50: (22-6 Overall)
Desiree Keeling - - 11Pts. 5-10FG, 1-6FT, 15Reb. 2Blk. 3Stl.
Gracie Doane - - 11Pts. 4-13FG, 3-8 3's, 10Reb.
Antavia Stevens - - 11Pts. 3-8FG, 3-6 3's, 3Reb. 3Ast. 3Stl.
Nadjae Stokes - - 6Pts. 2-5FG, 2-3FT, 3Reb. 3Ast.
Lady Colonels - - 18-62FG, 6-20 3's, 8-17FT, 55Reb. 14Ast. 28TO's, 6Blk. 12Stl.

More to come, and stay tuned for the 4A Boys Basketball State Championship between Norcom and Handley in a little bit!

8:10 PM: Well, it's in the books and Coach Saundra Sawyer's Lake Taylor Lady Titans have closed the deal in strong fashion yet again. Last week in the State Semis at ODU, they went from down three to winning on a 9-0 run at the end. For the third time in five years, they are State Champs as they turned a 51-50 nail-biter into a seven-point victory with a 6-0 spurt at the end as Joanne Williams scored twice on drives to the hoop, plus Taylor Whitley had a bucket to make it a three-possession game.


We'll have Final Stats coming shortly, and don't forget, the 4A Boys Basketball State Championship between the Norcom Greyhounds and Handley Judges awaits us here at VCU!

8:05 PM: Under a minute to play and Lake Taylor appears to be slating it away as Joanne Williams has driven twice to the basket for critical buckets to extend the lead to 55-50. William Fleming had at least two, maybe three (I lost count), chances to go in front, despite numerous missed lay-ups throughout the course of the game and upwards of 25 turnovers, probably around the 30 mark.

In between Williams' two stellar attack and score plays, Lake Taylor senior captain Endia McKinney fouled out with 14 points at the 1:37 mark. William Fleming has been unable to take advantage with their size down low. They trail the defending State Champion Lady Titans 55-50 with 50 seconds remaining in the 4A Girls Basketball Championship.

8:00 PM: Two costly missed free-throws for William Fleming keep them from drawing closer, and they have started to play Lake Taylor's game just a bit of settling for three-pointers. One thing Fleming did do well on one post-up situation was draw the fourth foul on Lake Taylor's Endia McKinney with 3:30 remaining. That means the Lady Titans will have to either sub her or go the rest of the way with her in danger of fouling out, which looks to be the move they will make.

Lake Taylor is hanging on to a 51-50 lead with 2:37 to play in this one. Both teams have three players in double-figures in points. Foul shots might ultimately decide this one. The Lady Titans have played in so many Championship type of games over the years, and have closed quarters on a flurry, much like they have already done twice in this title match and a week ago in the State Semis when they finished on a 9-0 run vs. Loudoun County.

7:54 PM: It didn't take long for Lake Taylor to go from behind 39-36 late in the third quarter to up 50-40 less than two minutes into the fourth period. The mind-numbing 14-1 run was ignited by Endia McKinney's three-pointer to close the third quarter, and Joanne William picked up where she left off to begin the game's final stanza.

Williams scored the first five points off the fourth quarter, including an and-1 play, and Saundra Sawyer's team turned up the defensive heat on William Fleming. The Lady Colonels struggled to handle it well, and as a result, the Lady Titans blitzed them much like the football team coached by Saundra's husband Hank does. Kyara Cooper sprinkled in a three-pointer during that surge.

Fleming is missing a bunch of easy shots around the rim, but more than that, what is hurting them are the turnovers, a total of 25 with over six minutes to play. It's hard to win Championships with that many. However, the bank is open for Antavia Stevens on a three-pointer to cut the Lake Taylor lead to 51-47 with 5:25 to play.

7:48 PM: Just like they closed the second quarter in a big way, Lake Taylor does it with a shot to beat the buzzer to end the third period as Endia McKinney hits a crucial three-pointer to give the defending State Champs the lead.

End 3rdQ - - Lake Taylor Girls 42, William Fleming 40

As long as they stay in front, Lake Taylor is eight minutes away from repeating as State Champs and capturing their third crown since 2010. William Fleming, which has never been to the Final Four round until this year, is looking to make its own history and win their first. They've been led by the 11 points from Gracie Dane, keeping them in it with outside makes during that third quarter. It figures to be a wild fourth quarter if these two teams keep this pace up.

7:43 PM: William Fleming has had quite barrage of three-pointers in this third quarter after shooting just 1-of-6 from beyond the arc in the first half. Five-foot-10 junior Gracie Doane has drilled three of them herself, including one to give her team the lead 39-36 on the defending State Champion Lake Taylor Lady Titans here in the 4A title game.

To go with Doane's makes, 5-foot-3 senior guard and captain Antavia Stevens has connected from long distance. Foul trouble to both Taylor Whitley and Endia McKinney, the top two scorers for Lake Taylor with a combined 20 points, has hurt them just a bit with how tenacious they can be defensively.

7:36 PM: The second half is underway and Lake Taylor has carried over some of that momentum to begin the second half, very much like John Marshall Boys did earlier in the day in the 3A State Championship against George Wythe.

I'm not sure the Lady Titans will completely run away with it to the tune of an 18-point romp like the Justices did, but 5-foot-6 senior guard Taylor Whitley is doing her best to make sure she gets a State Championship ring on her finger. Whitley has scored eight quick points in less than three minutes to start off the second quarter, including a three-point that pushes the advantage 31-23.

Carrying over from the first half, that's an 11-0 run to answer the one William Fleming had. Gracie Doane, a 5-foot-10 junior, is starting to warm up for Fleming. She's made a couple of three-pointers and Fleming only trails 33-31 with 3:40 to go in the third quarter. Buckle those seat belts because this one could be a roller-coaster of a fourth quarter upcoming!

7:26 PM: Through one half of play, it's the Lake Taylor Lady Titans ahead of the William Fleming Colonels by the slimmest of margins in the 4A Girls Basketball State Championship.

Before we get to the stats, don't forget, following this one to conclude the festivities on this pleasant Thursday evening we have the 4A Boys Basketball State Championship with Norcom versus Handley.

Stats at the Half:

Lake Taylor Girls 24:
Endia McKinney - - 9Pts. 4-9FG, 9Reb. 3Stl.
Joanne Williams - - 4Pts. 1-10FG, 2-5FT, 8Reb.
Taylor Whitley - - 4Pts. 1-5FG, 1-4 3's, 4Reb. 2Stl.
Carlesha Farris - - 4Pts. 1-4FG, 1-3 3's
Lady Titans - - 8-36FG, 4-15 3's, 4-11FT, 29Reb. 3Ast. 12TO's, 1Blk. 8Stl.

William Fleming Girls 23:
Desiree Keeling - - 6Pts. 3-7FG, 0-2FT, 8Reb. 2Stl.
Antavia Stevens - - 5Pts. 1-3FG, 2-2FT, 3Stl.
Nadjae Stokes - - 4Pts. 1-3FG, 2-2Ft, 3Ast.
Keashe Lee - - 4Pts. 2-7FG
Lady Colonels - - 8-33FG, 1-6 3's, 6-8FT, 29Reb.
5Ast. 14TO's, 2Blk. 6Stl.

So far, William Fleming is doing what they need to defensively, holding Lake Taylor to just three field goals in that second quarter and to 22.2% shooting for the half. The Lady Titans are +9 from three-point land and Fleming could use some outside makes to loosen up that Lake Taylor defense that has force 14 turnovers, including eight in the second quarter when Fleming scored 15 points in the period and took the lead. As long as Fleming doesn't turn it over, they are able to get fairly good looks at the basket with their size advantage.

7:18 PM: Not good usage of the clock to close the first half for William Fleming. Up by three, they've had three or four missed chances, giving Lake Taylor a shot to take the lead before the break and they do with Endia McKinney's put-back jumper.

A potentially crucial steal for Desiree Keeling at one end that could've led to a lay-up that pushes the Fleming lead up to four instead turns into Keeling's second foul at the other end when they can't convert two shots. Since Lake Taylor is in the double bonus that gives Joanne Williams two free-throws and she splits a pair to trim the deficit to 23-22.

4A Girls State Final at the Half - - Lake Taylor 24, William Fleming 23

Numbers to come momentarily . . . stay tuned!

7:14 PM: On defense, Lake Taylor has gone from doubling down on William Fleming inside threat Desiree Keeling to now tripling her on one sequence. It's fair to say that she is the focal point for the Lady Colonels, and even with only six points in the ballgame. She's capable of striking for 18 or 20 when she gets going.

Transition defense starting to be a small problem for Lake Taylor, which it was at times in their comeback win over Loudoun County too because they apply so much defensive pressure that if/once you break it, there are opportunities for easy baskets. Fleming is breaking it with some success, but they have also rushed a couple of their looks and been able to convert, which could've allowed them to increase their lead further.

With 1:31 to go in the second period, Fleming leads it 23-20, amidst a 13-1 run. The Lady Titans continue to bomb away from three-point land, largely due to the fact that Fleming is bigger with two players over 6-feet-tall and no one is bigger than 5-foot-10 on LT's roster. At this present time, it's not working out for them as they've gone from taking good looks to forcing ones that aren't there.

7:09 PM: Suddenly, things have changed in a drastic way in favor of William Fleming. Down 19-10, they've tied the game up on a three-pointer from senior guard Antavia Stevens. In the first quarter, Coach Ronald Hubbard of Fleming played nine players, giving his starters a breather here and there. They've rewarded him greatly in this second period to stay in the ballgame when things were starting to look bleak.

Lake Taylor is doubling Desiree Keeling down low, and paying extra attention to her is leaving players open on the backside, such as sophomore wing/post Nadjae Stokes. Just a little while ago, Stokes' jumper cut the Lake Taylor lead to there and forced Coach Saundra Sawyer of Lake Taylor to burn a time-out.

With 3:44 to go in the second period, William Fleming is in front 21-19 after a pair of free-throws by Stokes. Fleming is on an 11-0 run, and the benefits of that deep rotation is starting to show.

7:02 PM: A put-back by Desiree Keeling, the highly regarded junior prospect for 4A-North Region Champion William Fleming, trims the Lake Taylor lead to 19-14 with 5:15 to go in the second quarter. That came moments after a pair of free-throws by the Lady Colonels and a missed lay-up in transition that could've brought them even closer.

Lake Taylor has been very opportunistic on offense as Saundra Sawyer's team is making the most of its three-point opportunities with junior Kyara Cooper and sophomore Carlesha Farris canning them from deep.

6:55 PM: Through one quarter of play, it's Lake Taylor in the lead by five against William Fleming largely because the Lady Colonels cannot get anything to fall offensively. Coach Ronald Hubbard's squad is 3-of-19 from the field and 0-for-4 from deep, which includes three starters that are scoreless. Lake Taylor has created six turnovers already and they are playing much like they did to finish the State Semis vs. Loudoun County, performing with a sense of urgency and playing very determined.

End 1stQ - - Lake Taylor Girls 13, William Fleming Girls 8

To lead the way for Lake Taylor, Endia McKinney has seven points. The Lady Titans haven't shot a bunch of 3's - - just 3 to be exact - - but they've converted a pair of them and William Fleming has yet to do much on six turnovers by Lake Taylor.

6:50 PM: We are nearing the end of the first quarter and it's Lake Taylor on top by a count of 12-6 against William Fleming, which isn't backing down against the aggressive Lady Titans, but they have missed several lay-ups that have hurt their cause.

A couple of three-pointers have been knocked down by Lake Taylor courtesy of Taylor Whitley and Endia McKinney, their 5-foot-10 senior standout who should have more attention from colleges in my opinion.

6:45 PM: It's the feeling out process early on with Lake Taylor and William Fleming, which had a furious finish to their game against Wilson in the State Semis to get here. Wilson was trying to get a fifth meeting with a Lake Taylor team they defeated for the Conference 17 Tournament crown, but lost to in the 4A-South Region Championship.

Lake Taylor feeds off its defense, which keyed a 9-0 spurt at the end of their 4A State Semis win over Loudoun County at ODU last weekend. Kyara Cooper hit the go-ahead three-pointer in that one, while senior forward Endia McKinney was a factor in the front-court for the Lady Titans. William Fleming will have to be able to handle their fierce defensive pressure to win their first ever state title. If they do, the Colonels have a 6-foot-2 junior post in Desiree Keeling that is drawing attention for the next-level from all over.

6:40 PM: We are back for the Night Session, otherwise known as Session #2, on this Thursday to open up the 2014 VHSL State Basketball Tournament from the Verizon Wireless Arena in Richmond at VCU's Stuart C. Siegel Center. We have 12 Championship matchups - - six boys and six girls - - over the next there days and we plan to provide you with updates throughout.

Coming up in the 4A Girls Basketball State Championship it'll be the Lake Taylor Lady Titans against the William Fleming Lady Colonels, followed by the 4A Boys Basketball State Championship with the Norcom Greyhounds against the Handley Judges. Both the Lake Taylor Girls and Norcom Boys will attempt to win their third state title in five seasons, and in the case of Lake Taylor, they're attempting to repeat.

Here are the Finals from earlier in the day . . .


To see the Blog Session #1 Click Here

Also be sure to follow the Hatfield Sports Twitter feed for periodic updates and tidbits, too.

Below you can see the matchups with records and times when the Championship games will be played here at VCU over the next three days.

6A State Championships:

Boys - S1 Colonial Forge (26-1) vs. S2 Landstown (23-5) - - March 14 at 8:30PM
Girls - S1 Cosby (25-0) vs. N1 Stonewall Jackson (22-6) - - March 14 at 6:30PM

5A State Championships:

Boys - S2 Henrico (22-6) vs. N2 Potomac (27-1) - - March 14 at 2PM
Girls - S1 Princess Anne (27-1) vs. S2 Highland Springs (24-2) - - March 14 at Noon

4A State Championships:

Boys - S1 Norcom (22-5) vs. N1 Handley (21-2) - - March 13 at 8:30PM
Girls - S1 Lake Taylor (22-4) vs. N1 William Fleming (22-6) - - March 13 at 6:30PM

3A State Championships:

Boys - E1 George Wythe (23-4) vs. E2 John Marshall (21-5) - - March 13 at 2PM
Girls - W1 Spotswood (26-1) vs. W2 Broadway (22-5) - - March 13 at Noon

2A State Championships:

Boys - E1 Bruton (26-1) vs. W1 Dan River (24-0) - - March 15 at 8:30PM
Girls - W1 Gate City (25-2) vs. W2 Central-Wise (23-6) - - March 15 at 6:30PM

1A State Championships:

Boys - E1 Altavista (22-3) vs. W1 Radford (26-2) - - March 15 at 2PM
Girls - W1 Honaker (24-6) vs. W2 Chilhowie (25-2) - - March 15 at Noon


6A Preview - - Colonial Forge vs. Landstown
5A Preview - - Henrico vs. Potomac
4A Preview - - Norcom vs. Handley
3A Preview - - George Wythe vs. John Marshall
2A Preview - - Bruton vs. Dan River
1A Preview - - Radford vs. Altavista

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

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