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March 14, 2014

LIVE 5A Championship Blog at VCU

4:25 PM: Our first session on this Friday, third overall in the VHSL State Basketball Tournament for 2014, is in the books and we have crowned Champions in Potomac Boys and Princess Anne Girls, two programs with rich histories and winning traditions.

Two of the Richmond area schools in Henrico Boys and Highland Springs Girls fell short, but just like the teams that took home of the trophies, they have excellent coaching on their side and also some talented underclassmen that should help them get back to this point come next year.

5A GIRLS FINAL - - PRINCESS ANNE 57, HIGHLAND SPRINGS 52
5A BOYS FINAL - - POTOMAC 54, HENRICO 42

3:50 PM: It's in the books and the Potomac Panthers have defeated the Henrico Warriors, the 2013 AAA State Champions, here in the Group 5A State Championship at the Stuart C. Siegel Center.

The Panthers got contributions from all over, and played their best maybe in the fourth quarter defensively when they held Henrico to just eight points in that period. They also held their best outside shooter to only one field goal and kept the team's top scorer without a field goal over the final eight minutes.

Postgame Audio with Potomac Coach Keith Honore
Potomac Postgame Presser
Henrico Postgame Presser

Let's review the numbers from this and we'll have more to come shortly . . .

Final Stats:

Potomac Panthers 54: (28-1 Overall)
Trey Porter - - 18Pts. 7-7FG, 4-6Ft, 4Reb. 6Blk.
Randy Haynes - - 11Pts. 4-8FG, 2-2FT, 9Reb. 4Ast.
Xavier Laws - - 11Pts. 4-7FG, 3-4 3's
Torrey Dixon - - 6Pts. 2-9FG, 5Reb.
T.T. Felder - - 3Pts. 1-2FG, 5Reb. 7Ast.
Panthers - - 20-43FG, 7-16 3's, 7-12FT, 32Reb. 13Ast. 19TO's, 7Blk. 8Stl.

Henrico Warriors 42: (22-7 Overall)
De'Monte Buckingham - - 18Pts. 5-14FG, 8-10FT, 7Reb.
Matthew Wallace - - 13Pts. 5-10FG, 2-2FT, 12Reb.
Walter Williams - - 4Pts. 1-8FG, 2Stl.
Ryan Pearson - - 3Pts. 1-12FG, 1-5 3's, 2Reb.
Warriors - - 13-54FG, 2-13 3's, 14-19FT, 37Reb. 6Ast. 16TO's, 1Blk. 9Stl.

Night Session starts at 6:30 PM with the 6A Girls State Championship with Stonewall Jackson vs. Cosby, followed by the 6A Boys State Championship between Landstown and Colonial Forge, a re-match from the 6A-South Region Championship where the winner will certainly be the Eagles.

3:41 PM: With 59.1 seconds to play and a 54-40 lead on Henrico, the Potomac Panthers' players and coaching staff have smiles all around as it is starting to hit them that they will be 2014 State Champs in Group 5A, perhaps the most difficult in all of Virginia to win it in under the new format. There are quality teams all over, beginning with a defending State Champ that they faced today in Henrico that's very well-coached and has a tenth grader who is one of the budding stars in High School Basketball.

Up North, they had to deal with a Wakefield team that handed them their only loss. The Panthers also needed to beat Maury in the State Semis. Even some of the teams that didn't get to the State Tournament, such as L.C. Bird and Green Run in 5A-South, would stand a darn good chance of winning it all in another division.

BOYS HOOPS 5A CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL - - POTOMAC 54, HENRICO 42

We'll have Final Stats coming soon . . . don't go anywhere friends.

3:37 PM: The big fella, Trey Porter, is asserting himself well inside defensively, protecting the paint as he just sent away another drive and shot by Henrico, a real streaky team that can get hot from outside. Henrico depends so heavily on De'Monte Buckingham, and with four fouls, he has to be careful defensively. Plus, at the offensive end, T.T. Felder is tiring him out maybe a bit and the sophomore is having a tough time scoring on him as well as Porter on the back end when goes to the cup in this fourth quarter.

Potomac has been extremely opportunistic on offense, especially from the perimeter. Xavier Laws knock down yet another three-point shot when the Henrico defense lost him in transition in the corner. Following Randy Haynes delivers a fast-break basket. The Panthers are up 54-40 suddenly with 1:55 to play after an offensive foul by Henrico.

This Potomac team has looked to me like the best public school basketball team in Virginia practically the whole season and they can taste it, the program's first State Championship since 1995 to wrap up a 28-1 campaign. For Henrico, their players and coaching staff has done a marvelous job to get to this point when other teams looked to be more equipped to make this run, but down the stretch, the size and experience coupled with the outside shooting for the Panthers has proven to be the difference.

3:30 PM: Is this a new episode or a re-run from last night? Some here at the Verizon Wireless Arena at VCU are starting to wonder as the lead that was 10 to start the fourth quarter for Potomac has been trimmed to six. Even worse for Potomac, much like Handley last night, the fouls are adding up as both Trey Porter and T.T. Felder have four fouls and there's still 5:04 to play.

Porter just made an enormous block that might've thwarted the Warriors' run as a lay-up there would've made it 46-42. The Panthers need to score on this possession and cannot afford a turnover.

Well, Potomac turns it over. That gives Henrico the ball back and you can bet they will be going right at Porter, trying to get him out of the game on that fifth foul. Felder is guarding Buckingham very closely as that is the guy the Warriors are looking to more times than not down the court. His runner is a bit rushed and Potomac is able to dodge a big bullet.

3:25PM: I'm not criticizing the officials, so I want to make it perfectly clear as I get ready to make my next comment in this entry (which will sound like I'm hammering them), but this game has been called very tight on both sides. Both T.T. Felder and De'Monte Buckingham have been whistled for their fourth fouls each. Buckingham makes two foul shots, while Potomac's Xavier Laws missed a pair, although it has to be pointed out again that he's been a catalyst this half with his outside shooting. That cuts the Panthers' lead down to 44-36 early in the fourth quarter.

Foul shooting will be critical down the stretch and so too will how the Panthers handle the defensive pressure that Henrico is capable of applying. Right now, Buckingham has been a real force with his athleticism, hitting the offensive glass and extending possessions. Jordan English is very pivotal to that defensive charge for the Warriors.

3:19 PM: A strong finish to the third quarter for the Potomac Panthers. Though he was quiet offensively in the first half, 6-foot-2 senior guard Xavier Laws is making his presence known and felt. Laws hit the second of a pair of three-pointers in the third quarter with 0.4 seconds left. That gave Potomac a 10-point lead, matching the largest of the day.

End 3rdQ in 5A Championship - - Potomac 44, Henrico 34

Does Henrico have a phenomenal comeback in them similar to the one Norcom had last night in the 4A State Championship vs. Handley when they rallied from 16 down to shock the Judges? Or like the one they had a year ago in the State Tournament quarterfinals vs. Kecoughtan on their way to winning the AAA title? Their perimeter defense has to come through as the Panthers have made six three-pointers and the Warriors have turned it over 14 times compared to 13 for Potomac to this point.

3:15 PM: Just when it looked like danger zone for Potomac, their offense steps up in a grand way with top scorer Randy Haynes out of the ballgame after he picked up third foul just a pinch past the midway point of the third quarter. A gorgeous alley-oop is delivered when senior wing T.T. Felder finds the big fella Trey Porter, who flushes it down.

Matthew Wallace continues to be a real solid complement on offense today to Henrico star De'Mnte Buckingham, but the Panthers are getting timely shots from their guards, the latest by Xavier Laws. This is a guy that scored only three points on 1-of-2 shooting in the first half. Nevertheless, the role players such as him, Keijon Honore and Torrey Dixon often have rose to the occasion when called upon.

With under a minute to go in the third quarter, it's Potomac in the lead by a mark of 41-34. Henrico's defense needs to close the period strong to have a real shot at repeating. As Maury found out last week in the State Semis at ODU when they got behind by 13 and made a rally to get as close as one, making up a big deficit against a team with the size and experience that the Panthers have is a tough chore.

3:10 PM: The pace is really picking up in this one as three-pointers are starting to fall both ways, first from Henrico junior Ryan Pearson, who was scoreless until that shot, and then from Potomac leading scorer Randy Haynes, a guy not known for his outside shooting ability.

Torrey Dixon hits one at the 4:20 mark of the third period to push the lead up to 37-32 after De'Monte Buckingham came flying through virtually untouched for an offensive stick-back. For a team with their size, Potomac is giving up way too many second chance opportunities.

A big moment comes at the 3:52 mark of the third quarter when Haynes gets called for an offensive foul. That's his fourth, meaning one more and he's done. The Panthers cannot afford to lose him.

3:05 PM: To start the second half, Potomac executes very much like they did in the first few minutes of the game and it begins defensively with George Mason signee Trey Porter stepping up and drawing a charge. It could've been his third foul and instead it's foul #3 on Henrico sophomore sensation De'Monte Buckingham. Shortly thereafter, T.T. Felder, who also has two fouls, sacrifices his body and draws a charge as well.

Sandwiched in between the two charges drawn by Porter and Felder was a critical three-pointer from Keijon Honore, son of Head Coach Keith Honore. The junior came through last Saturday at ODU in the State Semis vs. Maury with three of those makes from downtown.

2:59 PM: At the break, it's Potomac up against Henrico in the 5A State Championship as the Panthers have been able to keep the surging Warriors at bay for the most part.

Let's take a closer look at the numbers of note . . .

Stats at the Half:

Potomac 26:
Trey Porter - - 11Pts. 4-4FG, 3-4FT, 1Reb. 3Blk. 2PF
Randy Haynes - - 4Pts. 2-5FG, 7Reb. 3Ast. 3PF
T.T. Felder - - 3Pts. 1-1FG, 3Ast. 2PF
Torrey Dixon - - 3Pts. 1-7FG, 3Reb.
Panthers - - 10-24FG, 2-8 3's, 4-6FT, 15Reb. 8Ast. 8TO's, 4Blk. 6Stl.

Henrico 23:
De'Monte Buckingham - - 12Pts. 4-8FG, 4-6FT, 4Reb.
Matthew Wallace - - 7Pts. 3-4FG, 3Reb.
Warriors - - 8-21FG, 1-3 3's, 6-11FT, 16Reb. 5Ast. 9TO's, 1Blk. 5St.

Henrico out-rebounded, and in some ways out-competed Potomac, by a margin of 8-4 on the boards in the second quarter. That can't happen for a Panthers team that is bigger on the front-line than the Warriors. Porter has to be more of a factor there.

Henrico wants to attack Porter and keep him as well as Haynes and Felder in foul trouble. But the Warriors have also had three shots sent back by Porter, and they need to get guards out of position so that they can get some pull-up opportunities for both Buckingham and Ryan Pearson, who was scoreless in the first half and will crucial to the outcome of this one in the second half.

2:55 PM: We have reached half-time in a very competitive and entertaining 5A State Championship between the Potomac Panthers and Henrico Warriors. This might go down to the wire, much like their regular season meeting did in December when the Panthers pulled it out 70-64 in overtime with junior guard Keijon Honore hitting a clutch shot to force overtime. Can Honore and company come through again or will it be Henrico completing an unexpected repeat as State Champs?

5A Championship at the Half - - Potomac 26, Henrico 23

We've got some number crunching coming up, so crunch and munch with us. Or keep your mouse-pad, smartphones, whatever device you're using, locked to VirginaPreps.com all weekend long.

2:50 PM: If not for their decisive advantage on the interior with 6-foot-10 senior center Trey Porter, a George Mason signee and All-State candidate that has 11 points despite foul trouble, Potomac might be trailing against Henrico in the first half of this 5A State Championship at VCU.

Fortunately for the Panthers, they hit 1-of-2 free-throws and get the ball back on a five-second violation by Henrico, which could prove costly for the Warriors. The Panthers can hold it for the last shot, ahead by a count of 26-23 late in the second quarter as they've weathered the storm of Henrico in this pro-Richmond crowd here.

2:44 PM: Foul trouble is really hurting Potomac in a major way. The Panthers cannot get to half-time any faster as their lead that was once double-figures in the first quarter has almost completely evaporated. An Avril Campbell basket in transition really helped stop the bleeding to a degree. However, Henrico is starting to get in a groove offensively.

Coach Keith Honore has seen enough and uses a 30-second time-out. His Panthers lead it only 23-21 here and the Warriors have answered in a big way, keyed by the playmaking of De'Monte Buckingham and jump shooting of one Matthew Wallace.

2:38 PM: A great start to the second quarter for Henrico has been spearheaded from an unlikely source with a fantastic first name. Six-foot-tall senior forward Matthew Wallace has scored seven quick points on three possessions in the second quarter to cut the Potomac lead down to just three at 18-15. Potomac pushes it back up to five on an easy score inside by Trey Porter.

What Coach Keith Honore of the Panthers has to be worried about is that the fouls are adding up in a hurry here. They've got nine team fouls and still have 2:17 to play. Their main guns in Porter, Felder and Randy Haynes all have at least two. Foul trouble plagued them in their only loss of the year, which came in the 5A-North Region Championship when Wakefield lived at the free-throw line and made them play, taking the lead late in the fourth quarter in a back-and-forth, memorable battle.

2:32 PM: We've reached the end of one quarter of play in the 5A State Championship and Potomac has doubled up Henrico, converting 6-of-16 from the field and turning the Warriors over seven times.

End 1stQ - - Potomac 16, Henrico 8

Leading the way for Potomac with six points is Trey Porter, who is 2-of-2 from the field, but also has two fouls. So too does T.T. Felder, one of their vital wing defenders with ample versatility. Henrico has been carried by De'Monte Buckingham offensively with six of his team's eight points and four boards. The Warriors have gone 2-of-5 at the foul line to this point.

2:28 PM: We're starting to see Henrico settle down considerably after that Potomac burst to open the game. A pair of foul shots by sophomore stud De'Monte Buckingham trims the deficit to 14-8 with 2:18 to go in the opening period. The Warriors are starting to slow down and take their time better on the offensive end to get good looks.

Potomac is able to get a defensive spark from two-sport athlete Torrey Dixon, a running back on their football team. Dixon gets a steal and score. That pushes the lead back up to eight.

2:22 PM: What a start by Potomac as the Panthers are up by a count of 12-2 at the 4:28 mark of the first quarter, forcing Coach Vance Harmon of the defending AAA State Champion Henrico Warriors to burn a time-out. Potomac came out with T.T. Felder, son of ex-Panthers star Mookie Felder, draining a three-pointer, and then they really got the crowd that came from Dumfries down to Richmond into it with a slam by Trey Porter.

That was one of two big-time jams by the future George Mason player who checks in at about 6-foot-10 (definitely no shorter than 6-foot-8 and maybe as tall as 6-foot-11, we'll have to get the measuring tape out). Anyways, the Panthers have been spacing the floor tremendously and getting excellent ball movement. That led to another there-pointer from senior guard Xavier Laws.

Henrico has not been able to get a handle for the Panthers' size and athleticism to this point and will need sophomore star De'Monte Buckingham as well as junior sharp shooter Ryan Pearson to get going in a hurry or it'll be an even greater deficit.

2:17 PM: We are underway in the 5A State Championship between the Potomac Panthers and Henrico Warriors. Potomac started the year out 26-0, then lost to Wakefield in the 5A-North Region Championship and held on late to beat Maury down in Norfolk in the State Semis at ODU. Henrico has had a couple double-digit comebacks this postseason against L.C. Bird and Deep Run to get to this point and there's no shortage of star power in this one.

Sophomore De'Monte Buckingham was the leading scorer for Henrico last year as a freshman in the state title game. He's got multiple ACC offers on the table, most recently one from Maryland. Potomac has a 6-foot-10 giant in the middle in George Mason signee Trey Porter and a two-time Player of the Year in the conference/district.

1:47 PM: Once again, the Princess Anne Lady Cavaliers are on top as they claimed their fifth state title since 2002 by beating the Highland Springs Springers in the 5A State Girls Basketball Championship.

Postgame Audio with Princess Anne Coach Darnell Dozier
Postgame Presser with Princess Anne
Postgame Presser with Highland Springs

Let's go over the numbers from this extremely well-played matchup . . .

Final Stats:

Princess Anne Lady Cavs 57: (28-1 Overall)
Gadiva Hubbard - - 35Pts. 11-22FG, 7-11 3's, 6-11FT, 7Reb. 3Stl.
Janayla White - - 13Pts. 3-8FG, 7-10FT, 11Reb. 4Blk. 2Stl.
Mercedes Tapia - - 6Pts. 1-6FG, 4-6FT, 4Reb. 2Ast.
Justyce Swango - - 3Pts. 1-7FG, 1-3 3's, 2Reb. 5Ast.
Lady Cavs - - 16-49FG, 8-15 3's, 17-29FT, 39Reb. 9Ast. 13TO's, 4Blk. 7Stl.

Highland Springs Lady Springers 52: (24-3 Overall)
Ciera Crudup - - 14Pts. 6-11FG, 5Reb. 2Stl.
Briana Justice - - 12Pts. 4-11FG, 4-4FT, 4Ast.
NaJai Pollard - - 10Pts. 4-7FG, 2-3FT, 6Reb. 2Blk.
Tia Byrd - - 8Pts. 1-8FG, 5-6FT, 2Stl.
Lady Springers - - 19-55FG, 2-9 3's, 12-14FT, 36Reb. 6Ast. 15TO's, 7Blk. 8Stl.

The performance of Hubbard was one that will go down in VHSL history with the best of the best. She simply could took over the fourth quarter with 15 of their 16 points, serving as the Mariano Rivera (a.k.a. 'The Closer') for Coach Darnell Dozier. Highland Springs battled well and did a lot of things that could've been enough to win the title, but PA was just a smidge better in most of the key categories, winning the boards, a couple fewer turnovers and most importantly finishing +18 from three-point territory.

Coming up next around 2:00 PM it'll be the 5A State Championship between Potomac, a team that has been ranked #1 in the state all year long, and the reigning AAA State Champs Henrico.

1:37 PM: The Drive for Five is complete. Princess Anne, under its legendary Head Coach Darnell Dozier, continues their excellence on the hardwood. The Lady Cavs are victorious in the 5A Girls Basketball State Championship against a very good Highland Springs team that didn't quit, even getting a three-pointer with 7.9 seconds to go from freshman Ciera Crudup to pull within four. This PA team knows how to finish the deal though, and Coach Dozier's team captures its fifth state title since 2002, improving his unbelievable career record to 497-95 at the Virginia Beach school.

GIRLS HOOPS 5A CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL - - PRINCESS ANNE 57, HIGHLAND SPRINGS 52

We'll have some Final Stats coming shortly and gear up for the second title match in Session #3 in this VHSL State Basketball Tournament as Henrico and Potomac face off for the 5A Boys Basketball Championship here at VCU in Richmond.

1:28 PM: Highland Springs finally gets a shot to fall from beyond the three-point arc as it is Tia Byrd, their 5-foot-5 senior, hitting to cut the Princess Anne lead to 52-46 with 2:10 remaining in this contest. This has been the Gadiva Hubbard Show for Princess Anne as the sophomore has 31 points, 11 in the fourth quarter, and really catapulted her team when the game was tight at the start of the period.

Make it now 33 and she'll try to make it 35 with a couple of free-throws with 40.3 seconds to go and PA in the lead 55-46. Highland Springs has battled admirably and played a much better, more competitive ballgame than they did nine days ago when they got routed by 22. Having their emotional leader Bri Justice closer to full strength certainly helped, but in the end, Princess Anne's offense executed like a Championship team is expected to do in crunch time.

We'll put a capper on this one and get ready for the 5A Boys State Championship between Henrico and Potomac in a few minutes . . .

1:22 PM: This fourth quarter is simply belonging to Princess Anne sophomore standout Gadiva Hubbard. She's up to 28 points, eight in the period with a pair of three-point makes, as the Lady Cavs have widened their lead to 49-41 with 4:03 to play with Highland Springs star Bri Justice out of the game.

Ciera Crudup, a promising freshman for the Lady Springers, hit a tough perimeter jumper and that cuts the deficit to six with just under minutes remaining in this one.

To make a rally without Justice will be tough for Highland Springs. It looks like though she's trying to return after this time-out from Coach Franklin Harris. Unless they can find an answer for Hubbard though, who is just as comfortable hitting the pull-up as driving to the tin on people this one will go in the favor of PA.

1:15 PM: A tough injury and sad moment for Highland Springs as star guard Briana Justice, a Delaware State signee, is helped off the floor with a leg injury with 7:21 to play and Princess Anne in the lead by a count of 41-37. The Highland Springs fans showing their support by chanting, "Let's Go Bri," as she is helped off the floor by the team's athletic trainer and Coach Franklin Harris.

The Lady Springers are going to have to really show their mettle, particularly at the defensive end of the court to take down this drive, focused and determined Princess Anne group that is trying to win a State Championship after falling in this title game each of the past two years to Lake Taylor (2013) and Oakton (2012).

Where Princess Anne continues to do its damage is from three-point range, going 5-of-10 compared to 0-for-6 for Highland Springs. Those 15 points have made a major difference and now make it 18 points as Gadiva Hubbard hits a long-range bomb.

1:08 PM: We're seeing a great display of basketball at the offensive end by both teams in this 5A Girls Basketball State Championship as Princess Anne and Highland Springs are battling it out like two teams should when it's do-or-die. In my opinion, the runner-up here would be worthy of competing for a state title at any of the other five classifications in the state.

Princess Anne takes the lead on a couple of three-pointers from the sophomore Gadiva Hubbard, who should join a long line of many D-1 prospects under Coach Darnell Dozier in a couple years when she graduates. The lead doesn't last for long as Highland Springs goes back up behind a driving lay-up from Bria Justice, and a deuce inside by NaJai Pollard.

Where PA is hurting Highland Springs is from beyond the arc. They are +9 in that department, and they are now back ahead, 39-38 with Highland Springs trying to take the last shot of the quarter. They miss it and Justice is slow to get up after a spill. Justyce Swango drains a three-pointer nothing but net at the horn for Princess Anne to close the third quarter.

End 3rdQ in 5A Girls State Championship - - Princess Anne 41, Highland Springs 37

That shot was a huge shot in the arm for PA. It also was the first field goal of the day for PA's Mighty Mouse Swango, who will play at the next level at College of Charleston.

1:03 PM The action is picking up and really intensifying as we near the midway point of the third quarter with Highland Springs trying to hang onto a 31-27 lead against Princess Anne. Of those 27 points for PA, a total of 24 have been by the tandem of White and Hubbard. Highland Springs has gotten great lifts from freshmen Ciera Crudup with seven first half points and four from freshman Cam Gaitlin off the pine.

Princess Anne is starting patiently attack that zone defense and fouls are coming as a result for the Lady Springers. White will go to the foul line a chance to tie it with 3:28 left in the third quarter. It's worth nothing that Highland Springs was a perfect 9-for-9 from the foul line in the first half, though missed on all five of their outside shots. As long as they defend and attack the cup with a purpose, I don't think Coach Franklin Harris will mind that stat at all.

12:55 PM: Princess Anne opens the second half with their first basket and it comes via Mercedes Tapia. That's exactly what Coach Darnell Dozier needs; scoring punch from someone outside his main tandem of Gadiva Hubbard and Janayla White to take pressure off them. Highland Springs has gone to a sagging 2-3 zone defensively in the early going and it's making Princess Anne have to work the ball around from side to side.

What really turned the tide for Highland Springs late in the first half was their ball security. They turned it over only once in the second period after six turnovers in the first quarter, so as long as their guards, mainly Bri Justice (who has yet to turn it over once), can attack the hoop, they've got a great shot to pull this one out.

12:44 PM: Some of the half-time statistics of note here as the Highland Springs Lady Springers are two quarters away of winning a State Championship for the first time in its history in Girls Basketball. They'll need two more terrific periods to get it done against a Princess Anne team that is trying to win its fifth state title since 2002.

5A Girls Championship Stats at the Half:

Highland Springs Girls 27:
Briana Justice - - 8Pts. 2-7FG, 4-4FT, 3Ast.
Ciera Crudup - - 7Pts. 3-5FG, 2Reb. 2Stl.
Tia Byrd - - 4Pts. 0-3FG, 4-4FT
Lady Springers - - 9-30FG, 0-5 3's, 9-9FT, 18Reb. 4Ast. 7TO's, 3Blk. 7Stl.

Princess Anne Girls 22:
Gadiva Hubbard - - 11Pts. 5-8FG, 4Reb.
Janayla White - - 10Pts. 2-5FG, 6-8FT, 7Reb. 2Blk. 2Stl.
Lady Cavs - - 7-26FG, 1-5 3's, 7-11FT, 21Reb. 3Ast. 9TO's, 2Blk. 5Stl.

So far, White and Hubbard have given PA plenty of production. They need that third option to step up as the backcourt of Goodhope and Swango is scoreless so far. Swango is especially critical considering she's made 18 free-throws in a row.

12:40 PM: Although she would be whistled for two personal fouls off the bench in this second quarter, Highland Springs freshman enter Cam Gaitlin (6-feet-tall) has come in and given Franklin Harris' Lady Springers good minutes as they now lead it 25-21 with a 7-0 run. The energy, enthusiasm and tenacity at both ends have been tremendous for Highland Springs here during this spurt.

Give another basket to Gaitlin inside to beat the horn and Highland Springs' offense couldn't have asked for more during the second period, scoring 17 points on a Princess Anne team that prides itself on defense and really makes opponents work for their points.

5A Girls Championship at the Half - - Highland Springs 27, Princess Anne 22

We'll crunch and much on some numbers when we return.

12:34 PM: We're seeing Highland Springs get really creative defensively as they are sending a second defend on Janayla White of Princess Anne on the catch, and rightfully so since she's capable of being a game-changer with a double-double. They're also fronting when opportunities are there so that it makes it difficult for her to receive the catch from a teammate, and for a teammate to get the ball into her. White will now have to make her presence felt defensively and see if that leads to some transition opportunities.

Speaking of which, a White block leads to a Gadiva Hubbard lay-up and now PA is back in front, 19-18 with 2:39 to go in the second quarter. Highland Springs has controlled the flow of the second quarter much of the way, but two or three subpar possessions offensively can turn a lead into a 5-7 point deficit quickly vs. the Lady Cavs. Hubbard scores again and it's PA up 21-18.

12:27 PM: One of the telling statistics for the opening quarter so far is that Princess Anne shot just 3-of-17 from the field, yet they are still deadlocked with Highland Springs after one quarter of play. Credit their board play with a 13-10 advantage as Gadiva Hubbard and Mercedes Tapia have combined for seven. Also, they've turned Highland Springs over six times.

What Highland Springs is doing well is getting contributions from everyone as seven different players have recorded a defensive rebound. Bria Justice is the straw that stirs the drink, though. She's got two points on 1-of-4 and will need to create off the bounce for her teammates and others because PA is able to punch it inside on most occasions when the Lady Springers force them to pick up their dribble.

12:23 PM: Coach Franklin Harris of Highland Springs has to be pleased with how his young ladies are contesting shots defensively. The latest rejection comes from Najai Pollard, at least the third block of the opening quarter for his Lady Springers. As they say in the business, great defense leads to even better offense and E'Shay Winfield delivers a jumper just inside the arc to knot the score at 10 after Princess Anne went on a 6-0 spurt to no surprise after the time-out.

With Justice playing at full strength this time around, the game has a different look and feel to the one we saw nine days ago at Churchland High School in Portsmouth for the 5A-South Region Championship.

End 1stQ in 5A Girls State Championship - - Princess Anne 10, Highland Springs 10

12:19 PM: With 2:58 to go in the first quarter, it's Highland Springs on top of Princess Anne by a count of 6-4. Make that 8-4 nearing the 2 minute mark after baskets from Ciera Crudup and Bria Justice, the Delaware State signee that was hobbled in the last meeting.

Princess Anne has gone about four minutes without a field goal and their offense is in a rut, which is why Coach Darnell Dozier decides to burn a 30-second time-out. This guy Dozier knows what he's doing and how to fix it; he's 469-95 in his 19 years at the helm with 11 regional titles, four State Championships and three state crowns. Oh by the way, this is their sixth straight appearance in the State Championship game. They haven't missed the State Playoffs since 2007.

12:12 PM: In the early going, Highland Springs looks pretty spry and they get the first basket of the game courtesy of junior forward Najai Pollard. However, Pollard would get her second foul at the 5:04 mark of the first quarter, which could turn out to be critical later on in defending PA's interior threat Janayla White.

After that first hoop by the Lady Springers, the Lady Cavs of Princess Anne respond with scores from White and Gadiva Hubbard, the Conference 9 Player of the Year and an All-Region selection in 5A-South. Highland Springs has swatted away two other shots, so they have come out ready to go defensively. Can they maintain it whenever PA gets on a run is the question?

12:04 PM: We're moments away from tipping off between Princess Anne and Highland Springs in the 5A Girls State Basketball Championship. A mini capsule preview if you will the best we can . . .

These two teams met back in the 5A-South Region Championship, where Princess Anne ran away to the tune of 74-52. They are now on the 'Drive for Five,' under Coach Darnell Dozier, seeking the program's fifth state title. PA has been runner-up three times for the title, including each of the past two years to Lake Taylor and Oakton. They are led by the likes of Janayla White inside, Gadiva Hubbard (18.6PPG, 58 3's) on the perimeter, and College of Charleston pledge Justyce Swango in the backcourt.

Highland Springs, under the direction of Coach Franklin Harris, is looking to win its first state title. This team's only two losses have been to Cosby and Princess Anne, two teams that are playing for Championships, and in the case of Cosby, an undefeated squad. This is Highland Springs' second trip to the Final Four stage in three years, but first appearance in the title game after beating Edison in the State Semis. The last time they ran into PA, Delaware State signee Briana Justice got hurt and she's a big part of what they want to do, both offensively and defensively. Big efforts will be needed from seniors E'Shay Winfield, Tia Byrd and junior NaJai Pollard to capture the crown.

One note of change in the lineup for PA and that's sophomore guard Danyael Goodhope (younger sister of ex-PA standout and ODU player Galaisha Goodhope) is starting in place of Edley Drawhorn, a sophomore battling an ankle injury.

11:50 AM: Hello friends and welcome to Day 2 of our LIVE Blog Coverage from the 2014 VHSL State Basketball Tournament at the Verizon Wireless Arena in the Stuart C. Siegel Center on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University.

We have another exciting day of State Championship Hoops in store, beginning with Princess Anne vs. Highland Springs in the 5A Girls Basketball State Championship to be followed by Potomac against Henrico in the 5A Boys Basketball State Championship. What a way to start off the three-day marathon of Championship games in the 2014

To see the Blog Session #1 Click Here
To see the Blog Session #2 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 couple of days as well as the results of last night's title matches that brought plenty of excitement to the city of Richmond.

3A State Championships from Thursday:

3A GIRLS FINAL - - SPOTSWOOD 56, BROADWAY 49
3A BOYS FINAL - - JOHN MARSHALL 74, GEORGE WYTHE 56

4A State Championships from Thursday:

4A GIRLS FINAL - - LAKE TAYLOR 57, WILLIAM FLEMING 50
4A BOYS FINAL - - NORCOM 59, HANDLEY 52

5A State Championships on Friday:

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

6A State Championships on Friday:

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

1A State Championships on Saturday:

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

2A State Championships on Saturday:

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

VAPREPS BOYS STATE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME PREVIEWS:

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 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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