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March 15, 2014

LIVE 1A Championship Blog at VCU

4:25 PM: Our first session on this Saturday is over and the Chilhowie Girls and Altavista Boys have represented with Championship victories today over quality opponents in Honaker, which beat Chilhowie in the regional title game, and a Radford team that had won three state titles since 2009. In the case of Chilhowie's ladies, they put together the largest margin of victory in a Group A State Championship in 12 years. Altavista won its second state title in a row.

Coming up this evening, it's Central-Wise vs. Gate City in the 2A Girls Championship and Bruton vs. Dan River in the 2A Boys Championship. That Blog will come your way beginning around 6:30/7:00 PM this evening. It'll conclude our LIVE Blog Coverage of the 2014 VHSL State Basketball Tournament.

1A GIRLS FINAL - - CHILHOWIE 60, HONAKER 34
1A BOYS FINAL - - ALTAVISTA 49, RADFORD 44

Postgame Audio with Altavista Coach Mike Cartolaro
Postgame Presser with Altavista
Postgame Presser with Radford

3:40 PM: The Altavista Colonels are your VHSL State Tournament Champions for 2014 in Group 1 High School Basketball. They took down a Radford Bobcats team that was ranked #1 all season long.

Let's go over the Final Stats from this one before we break for the Night Session, which will feature the 2A title games, on this Saturday in the 2014 VHSL State Tournament.

Final Stats:

Altavista Colonels 49: (23-3 Overall)
Darius Johnson - - 14Pts. 6-11FG, 2-3FT, 6Reb. 2Stl.
Demetrius Johnson - - 9Pts. 2-3FG, 5-6FT, 8Reb.
Juan Thornhill - - 9Pts. 3-9FG, 3-7FT, 6Reb. 4Ast.
Meche Maulbeck - - 7Pts. 3-9FG, 2Reb.
Walker Allen - - 6Pts. 2-2FG, 1-1 3's, 2Reb.
Colonels - - 18-41FG, 2-9 3's, 11-18FT, 30Reb. 9Ast. 13TO's, 2Blk. 7Stl.

Radford Bobcats 44: (26-3 Overall)
Nate Jones - - 24Pts. 10-15FG, 4-7FT, 10Reb.
Marcus Finley - - 7Pts. 2-14FG, 2-12 3's, 1-3FT, 2Ast.
Isaiah Phillips - - 5Pts. 2-12FG, 1-2FT, 8Reb. 3Stl.
Zach Bradley - - 2Pts. 1-1FG, 4Reb. 3Stl.
Bobcats - - 17-46FG, 2-18 3's, 8-14FT, 32Reb. 9Ast. 14TO's, 0Blk. 9Stl.

What has made Altavista so dynamic this season is their ability to score in different ways, going to the post play with the Johnson twins or seeing their guards break people off the bounce or finish in transition. Thornhill and Maulbeck were solid, and Allen quietly gave them fine minutes off the bench. Altavista rebounded better as the game went along, and they had a reasonable amount of success against Radford's man-to-man defense, particularly in a key stretch midway through the third quarter that allowed them to open the lead up to nine.

Even in a loss, Jones put forth a terrific display, and we've come to expect that from him in his career so far at Radford, which is why he's a D-1 prospect. Phillips and Finley didn't have their typical games as Altavista's defense dared Finley to be more of a shooter than distributor. The subpar perimeter shooting was too much for a very good Radford team to overcome against a squad that can hurt you inside or out.

We'll have more to come . . . keep it tuned to VirginiaPreps.com!

3:32 PM: All year long, the Altavista Colonels and Radford Bobcats have been the Class of High School Basketball in Virginia in 1A. Radford has been ranked #1 the entire season and Altavista #2 with each team looking to repeat as State Champs in the first year of the new realignment. It'll be the Colonels doing so as they hold off the Bobcats in the end, getting a total team effort as four starters scored between 7 and 14 points for Coach Mike Cartolaro's squad.

BOYS HOOPS 1A CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL - - ALTAVISTA 49, RADFORD 44

Although the Bobcats see their season end at 26-3 overall, they had another superb season under veteran Head Coach Rick Cormany. Their three losses were by a total of 11 points. The Bobcats were denied their fourth state title in 2009, but ran into another team with Championship experience and lots of talent on its side.

3:28 PM: Misses on the front-end of two 1 and 1 foul shot opportunities for Altavista has kept them from putting this one away. Radford gets closer with 18.3 seconds left on another splendid offensive play from their junior guard Nate Jones, a Conference Player of the Year.

The Bobcats are going to turn to their full-court pressure out of a time-out in hopes of creating a turnover. However, Altavista breaks it with Meche Maulbeck racing down the court, catching the baseball pass and scoring on a lay-up. Radford misses at the other end, and with 3.3 seconds left, the Colonels are in front by a count of 48-44 with the Colonel Crazies starting to celebrate.

This will be the third state title for Coach Mike Cartolaro's team since 2004 as they have had a wonderful season, only losing to Goochland, who they later defeated, and undefeated Dan River twice. Oh by the way, Dan River is undefeated and later facing Bruton for the 2A State Championship.

3:24 PM: Out of a time-out, Radford puts Nate Jones back into the game and he scores, gliding to the rim and drawing contact. His free-throw is no good, but the Altavista lead is down to 44-41 with 2:25 remaining. Sophomore guard Marcus Finley makes two stellar defensive plays for the Bobcats, but Radford is to pull closer.

Altavista makes it a two-possession lead as 5-foot-11 senior captain Richard Hubbard scores with 1:22 to go. The Colonels' role players like Hubbard and Walker Allen have stepped up at critical times to help out their main four playmakers.

With 44.6 seconds left, Altavista is shooting a one-and-one, ahead 46-41 on their fellow defending State Champs, the Radford Bobcats.

3:17 PM: We have reached the 3:39 mark and it's Altavista up 44-40 on Radford after a pair of free-throws by DeAndre Cook. Moments ago, Demetrius Johnson had a nice finish versus contact for the Colonels in the open floor. Altavista's transition game has had timely buckets to help them steady or increase the lead when it has mattered most.

More than anything though, the difference in this game so far has been the Colonels' defensive attention to detail, taking away what Isaiah Phillips and Marcus Finley, the #2 and #3 scoring options for Radford, do best. The Johnson twins have performed well on the front-line well to complement guards Meche Maulbeck and Juan Thornhill, too.

3:12 PM: Radford is getting closer thanks to junior 6-foot-4 shooting guard Nate Jones, who is exploding to the cup on a couple of drives, one in transition. To me, he's a mid-major level prospect with what he's showing today and has room for growth in his game, primarily on the defensive end because once he translates that leaping ability to that end of the floor, he'll be an even more dangerous player.

With 6:06 left to play, it's Altavista leading 39-36. The Colonels have tried to go to some isolations the last two trips down the floor and it didn't work. They need to find a way to give Darius Johnson a high-percentage shot in the low post or high post area, or get it in the hands of Juan Thornhill on a slash to the hoop and let him use that natural athleticism to attack.

3:06 PM: Things starting to get a little chippy as Walker Allen of Altavista and Radford's Nate Jones exchanged some words after a foul. Trailing 39-30, Radford needs to step it up and the Bobcats do so with a Jones bucket in transition; he's got 17 of their 32 points thus far to keep them alive offensively. Beating the horn is Anthony Miano, a 6-foot-2 senior forward and captain for the Bobcats.

End 3rdQ in 1A State Championship - - Altavista 39, Radford 34

These first three minutes are going to be critical for Radford and they have to take better care of the basketball. They committed six of their 12 turnovers in that third quarter.

3:01 PM: A terrific off the glass score by Altavista's Meche Maulbeck, using the spinner in the lane, pushes Altavista's lead to 33-25, their largest of the ballgame. Radford comes back with Marcus Finley's second three-pointer of the third quarter. Altavista comes back with their x-factor, sophomore sub Walker Allen to push the lead back up to eight.

UVA football commit Juan Thornhill is showing off the defensive back skills with a tremendous catch on the break and finish, drawing the foul in the process. It's a 38-30 lead for Altavista with 2:10 left until the fourth quarter gets underway. A steal from Richard Hubbard and the Colonels can now push it to double-figures with a basket.

2:56 PM: It has been a sloppy start to the third quarter for Radford, which was able to tie the score up at 23 on a three-pointer from Marcus Finley at the 6:18 mark. That was their first conversion from beyond the arc in the game, much to the delight of Coach Rick Cormany.

Since then though, Altavista has taken control with Darius Johnson going to work in the painted area. He's displaying superb footwork and maneuvering well inside to get to his spots to attack, using the occasional dribble move when needed. He's getting favorable one-on-one matchups inside that the Bobcats have to adjust to defensively soon. Altavista goes up by four on a basket from Richard Hubbard, and then it's a six-point advantage with over four minutes to go in the third quarter on another hoop from Johnson.

2:48 PM: Through two quarters of play, it's the Altavista Colonels leading the Radford Bobcats in a matchup of defending State Champs for the 1A title. Something like this couldn't happen in the past, but with the new setup, we have a real treat.

Here are the stats of note at intermission . . .

Stats at the Half:

Altavista 19:
Darius Johnson - - 6Pts. 2-7FG, 2-2FT, 4Reb.
Juan Thornhill - - 5Pts. 2-6FG, 4Reb. 2Ast. 2PF
Meche Maulbeck - - 3Pts. 1-5FG, 1-4 3's, 2Reb.
Walker Allen - - 3Pts. 1-1FG, 2Reb.
Colonels - - 6-24FG, 1-9 3's, 6-7FT, 16Reb. 4Ast. 6TO's, 2Blk. 2Stl.

Radford 18:
Nate Jones - - 11Pts. 5-8FG, 5Reb.
Isaiah Phillips - - 4Pts. 2-5FG, 3Reb. 2PF
Zach Bradley - - 2Pts. 1-1FG, 2Reb. 2PF
Bobcats - - 8-23FG, 0-9 3's, 2-4FT, 19Reb. 4Ast. 6TO's, 0Blk. 4Stl.

The Johnson twins have started to get involved better in the front-court for Altavista in the second quarter after the first period. Radford has yet to convert from the outside and they need to get their outside shots on track or it'll be tough to win this with the way Altavista has kept them out of transition for the most part If this one isn't decided in the final two or three minutes, it would surprise me. These two teams are so evenly matched I could see them splitting ten meetings.

2:42 PM: To close the first half, it's Nate Jones breaking a tie for Radford with 30 seconds left, but Altavista pushes ahead on a three-pointer with six seconds to go from Meche Maulbeck, a 5-foot-9 junior. That was the first make from long range for either team in this first half.

1A State Championship at the Half - - Altavista 19, Radford 18

We'll have some half-time numbers to go over in just a bit . . .

2:35 PM: It's easy to see that Nate Jones of Radford and Juan Thornhill (UVA football commit) of Altavista, both Class of 2015 prospects, are the two best athletes in the floor in this one. Thornhill followed his own miss at the foul line for a put-back to cut the Radford lead to 14-12. Jones answered with a stick-back of his own.

What's starting to become evident is that Jones really has to carry Radford offensively. Both Isaiah Phillips and Marcus Finley have been relatively quiet shooting the ball. Altavista is starting to get their tandem on the front-line, Demetrius Johnson and Darius Johnson, going. Demetrius nails two foul sots and Darius has been instrumental on the offensive boards to extend possessions.

A basket by Jones with 30 seconds left in the half gives the Bobcats a slim lead, 18-16.

2:29 PM: Radford has started the second quarter off on a 7-2 spurt in a span of 3:31, triggered by their defense forcing long misses from the perimeter by Altavista. As expected earlier, Coach Rick Cormany went to a 2-3 zone and that gave the Bobcats a couple of run-outs at the other end, including a lay-up by All-State candidate Isaiah Phillips.

Potential 1A State Player of the Year Nate Jones is really impressing in the first half as he just soared over Juan Thornhill of Altavista on a catch-and-shoot jumper, plus was fouled. He converts the three-point play. This is my first time watching him live this season and he's got really good touch, plays with pace and poise, and he's more than athletic enough to be an impact player at the next level.

2:23 PM: These two teams are so similar and the stats after one quarter of play are almost identical across the board. With that in mind, it should surprise no one that the score is tied.

End 1stQ in 1A State Championship - - Altavista 7, Radford 7

Both teams are shooting 3-of-11 from the field without a three-point make, in part due to solid defense. Both have two assists compared to five turnovers. One area where someone has a fairly strong edge is rebounding and that's Radford 11-6 so far. They've gotten boards on some of their misses, and the Johnson twins, Demetrius and Darius for Altavista, will have to assert themselves on the defensive glass for the Colonels to make that category even.

2:17 PM: Altavista has responded after the slow start in a major way, sparked by the defensive intensity and athleticism of junior guard Juan Thornhill, a UVA football commit that showed off the hops when he rejected a Radford shot in the paint. Moments later, Altavista's defense forced a turnover and Thornhill flushed it down at the other end with a dunk.

Coming off the bench, 6-foot-3 sophomore Walker Allen has given the Colonels a lift with a three-point play after a Radford turnover and Altavista leads it 7-5 with 2:20 to go in the first quarter. The Bobcats are staying man-to-man so far defensively, but it'll be interesting to see if they throw a wrinkle at them with a zone or junk defense to try and break their momentum.

2:10 PM: Out of the gate, Radford appears to be a step quicker and maybe a smidge more athletic, playing with an edge. Nate Jones, the junior star getting Division I offers that's also the son of Radford University Coach Mike Jones, scores and that is followed shortly after that by an Isaiah Phillips slam. Those two have been the bread and butter all year long for Rick Cormany's Bobcats along with sophomore guard Marcus Finley, who makes 1-of-2 foul shots to increase the lead to 5-0 on Altavista.

Mike Cartolaro's Colonels respond with a basket inside from Darius Johnson at the 4:56 mark to cut into the deficit. Altavista's offense isn't getting some of the looks they are accustomed to and Radford is working the ball around the perimeter might well on the offensive end.

2:03 PM: Starting lineups are being introduced for the Altavista Colonels and Radford Bobcats in the 1A State Championship here at VCU and we are about to get underway.

A few thoughts, some of which we touched on more in-depth in the Preview (see at the bottom of this Blog for that link) . . . Radford has a tremendous perimeter with Nate Jones, Marcus Finley and Isaiah Phillips that can be hard to handle. Altavista's guards are solid as well with UVA football commit Juan Thornhill and Meche Maulbeck. The key for the Colonels will be getting consistent play out of their front-line with Demetrius Johnson and Darius Johnson. Radford wants to keep them out of the paint as best as possible.

These two teams won state titles a year ago; Radford beating Gate City and Altavista cruising against West Point in Group A D-1 and D-2. With the new setup though, only one of these two will prevail. They've been ranked #1 and #2 all year long, and if both play up to their potential, it has the makings to be a classic.

1:39 PM: The Chilhowie Lady Warriors have avenged a 10-point loss to Honaker in the 1A-West Region Championship and captured their first ever state title in the program's first ever trip in the Championship game. It was a thoroughly dominating performance by Mark Hasley's group, which suffered is only other loss early in the season to Lebanon 45-40.

Let's review the numbers from the 1A Girls State Championship before we near tip-off of the 1A Boys State Championship, pitting Radford against Altavista against two teams that won state titles a year ago.

Final Stats:

Chilhowie Lady Warriors 60: (26-2 Overall)
Kenzie Sabo - - 20Pts. 10-12FG, 9Reb.
Danielle Catron - - 18Pts. 7-15FG, 4-4FT, 7Reb. 3Ast. 2Stl.
Gracelyn Tilson - - 9Pts. 3-3FG, 3-3 3's, 4Reb.
Ckareekeea Branch - - 6Pts. 3-8FG, 5Reb. 7Ast. 3Blk.
Rachel Hurley - - 6Pts. 2-5FG, 2-2FT, 6Reb.
Lady Warriors - - 25-45FG, 3-5 3's, 7-10FT, 35Reb. 11Ast. 13TO's, 3Blk. 6Stl.

Honaker Lady Tigers 34: (24-7 Overall)
Laken Robinette - - 10Pts. 3-11FG, 4-6FT, 6Reb. 4Blk.
Madison Musick - - 10Pts. 2-8FG, 6-6FT, 5Reb.
Madison Miller - - 5Pts. 2-8FG, 1-6 3's, 3Reb.
Lady Tigers - - 10-50FG, 2-17 3's, 12-14FT, 27Reb. 3Ast. 13TO's, 4Blk. 5Stl.

1:25 PM: It is in the books and the Chilhowie Lady Warriors are going to complete a 26-2 overall season and their first state title in Girls Basketball. In fact, it's the fist state title in any major sports at the school in the western part of Virginia since 1970 when football won it all in Group A.

This game has been all about half-court execution on offense and turning rushed shots by Honaker into easy points at the other end. Both Cotton and Sabo have done that in leading the charge.

GIRLS HOOPS 1A CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL - - CHILHOWIE 60, HONAKER 34

We'll have some Final Stats coming shortly and then get ready for the titanic matchup in the 1A Boys State Championship between Radford and Altavista.

1:15 PM: What's hard to believe about this game is that Chilhowie is just running away from Honaker, a team that beat them 40-30 in the 1A-West Region Championship. In that game, Chilhowie 6-foot-4 sophomore Kenzie Sabo was much quieter than she is today.

End 3rdQ in 1A Girls State Championship - - Chilhowie 47, Honaker 24

Sabo and Danielle Cotton, a 5-foot-10 senior guard that came into today with 2133 career points, have 18 apiece. Cotton is headed to Concord University, a Division II program, to play her College Basketball. For Honaker, their major threat inside 6-foot-tall junior Laken Robinette, who had 22 rebounds and five blocks earlier this postseason in a State Semis victory over Colonial Beach. Robinette hasn't been nearly as dominant on the glass with five players registering four rebounds or more for Chilhowie.

1:05 PM: Since I just got here and missed the first half of this game, it'll be hard to give you hard-hitting analysis, which you can get on the TV if you're watching this game from the broadcast team of Andy Hayes and Coach Ed Young, but we'll provide you with updates to close out the second half of this Chilhowie/Honaker 1A State Championship in Girls Basketball.

1:00 PM: It's half-time in the Girls 1A State Championship and Chilhowie has broken open what was a close game midway through the first quarter with a strong second quarter, spearheaded by the distributing of Ckareekeea Branch with five assists.

1A Girls Championship at the Half - - Chilhowie 27, Honaker 12

It was a rough shooting first half for Honaker, which went 4-of-26 compared to 11-for-22 for Mark Halsey's Lady Warriors of Chilhowie. The offense got stagnant for quite a while for Honaker after getting really good movement without the basketball in the first quarter. Chilhowie's offense is really clicking on all cylinders thus far.

12:50 PM: Howdy all and welcome to our third and final day of 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. Yours truly has just pulled into Richmond after hosting my radio show on ESPN 94.1 in Virginia Beach, ready for what should be a memorable day of postseason play on the hardwood.

We've had two outstanding days of Championship action thus far with a total of eight teams, four male and four female squads, capturing trophies. Four more will win State Championships later today as we have a 1A doubleheader already in process and later one we'll have a 2A doubleheader to conclude the season.

For those that missed our previous Blog Entries, you can see them at the links below.

To see the Blog Session #1 Click Here
To see the Blog Session #2 Click Here

In addition to the Blogs, you can follow the Hatfield Sports Twitter feed for periodic updates and tidbits, too.

Underneath are the Championship results so far and what's on the docket on this Saturday that will close out the High School Basketball season, which comes one day before Selection Sunday for the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at the Division I level.

 

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

 

6A State Championships from Friday:

6A GIRLS FINAL - - COSBY 53, STONEWALL JACKSON 46
6A BOYS FINAL - - COLONIAL FORGE 58, LANDSTOWN 54

 

5A State Championships from Friday:

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

 

4A State Championships from Thursday:

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

 

3A State Championships from Thursday:

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

 

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 [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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