Armstrong Stages Wild Comeback

background:yellow;mso-highlight:yellow'>Wildcats Roar Back:
style=> Enjoying perhaps their finest season in
basketball ever, the Armstrong Wildcats weren't ready to see it come to an end
on Tuesday night. Trailing by 14 points
after one quarter of play and 11 at the half, second-seeded Armstrong staged a
spirited comeback, knocking off top-seeded Matoaca
73-66 in thrilling fashion.

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>Down by one late in the fourth quarter, the Wildcats
went on an 8-0 run over the game's final 2:05 to stun the host Warriors, whose
turnaround season came to a close at 20-7 overall.

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>"We've been in this situation before.
style=> We were down by 17 points early in the season
and fought back and won, and were down by 14 points.
style=> They were pretty good teams," remarked
Armstrong Head Basketball Coach Darryl
Watts afterwards.

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>"These kids don't give up and fight to the end.
style=> We talked at half-time that there's no such
thing as a 16-minute game and wanted to go for 32 minutes, and that's what they

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>After a dismal first quarter where they scored only
nine points, Armstrong warmed up with 44 points in the second half, shooting
62% from the floor. Three players scored
in double-figures

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>"We're not just a one-pony show," Watts pointed out.
style=> You can take one away and we'll have
something else coming at you. We've had
four guys score 20 points or better in a game this year, and the fifth guy had

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>That gives the Wildcats explosives and balance in their
lineup. They also have chemistry.

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>"The thing about this group is they've played over 100
games together since J.V.," Watts added.
"It's easy [for them] to play basketball together.
style=> They're seniors and juniors, have been
through wars before, understand situations and did a great job staying in

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>Leading the way for Matoaca
in defeat was senior post player and Second Team All-District performer
style='mso-bidi-font-weight:normal'>B.J. Allen with 18 points and seven
rebounds. Allen battled foul trouble affect
collecting 10 points and four boards in the game's opening period.

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>Also scoring in double-figures for the Warriors was junior
Khalil Coleman with 12 points and
senior Rashard
style='mso-bidi-font-weight:normal'> Lewis, another Second Team All-League
pick, with 11 points. Coleman dished out
seven assists, while Lewis added nine boards and six assists.

which won only five games a season ago, won the Central District Tournament for
the first time in school history, led by the play of sophomore guard
style='mso-bidi-font-weight:normal'>Devin Morgan, an All-Central District
First Team choice. Morgan was held to
five points and five assists

Player of the Game:
style=> Armstrong junior guard
normal'> Cooley. It was one of the
best performances in a big spot in Cooley's career.

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>Cooley finished with 28 points, 22 of them coming in
the second half, shooting 11-of-18 from the field, a perfect 6-of-6 from the foul
line and grabbed nine boards.

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>"Cooley is the straw that stirs the drink," Watts said.
style=> "He gets us going and the other guys feed off
his energy. He did pretty much what we
expected him to do. He's an excellent
football player as well, so he may be getting looks from both directions."

never brought a second defender at Cooley and high-energy, determined style
attacking the cup enabled Armstrong to move on to the next round.

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>"I saw mismatches with the person that was checking me,"
Cooley commented. "I knew I could get to
the hole, got in a groove, kept on boxing out and felt I'd be able to make key

mso-highlight:yellow'>Keys to Victory:

- - Attack & Get to the Foul Line:
was a real simple formula, but Armstrong did it much better in the third and
fourth quarters than in the first half when they settled for some jumpers and
let Matoaca be the aggressor.

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>Cooley got almost all of his points in the painted area
as did Mealy. Those two got Allen in
foul trouble and consistently were able to get high percentage shots or trips
to the free-throw line.

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>"I knew that we're a second half team and would come
out hard and go get it," Cooley admitted.
"We had to keep on attacking to the hole, get fouls and keep on going no
matter who's in foul trouble."

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>As a team, Armstrong went 8-for-8 from the foul line in
the second half and 17-for-20 for the game.
On the other side, Matoaca went 6-of-10 at the
charity stripe.

#2 - - Extra Possessions:
style=> When a team is one and done on its shots,
it's very hard to win. That's especially
the case when you go 0-for-13 from beyond the arc like Armstrong did.
style=> While shooting guard
normal'>Robert Valentine, one of the Central Region's best at firing from
deep, had an off night, the Wildcats made up for it by getting offensive

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>Capital District Player of the Year
normal'> Mealy, an undersized, yet hard-working forward with a non-stop
motor, played under the weather, but was superb in the paint.
style=> Mealy ended up with 21 points and 12
rebounds, eight on the offensive end to give Armstrong the second chances they

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>"It was all about heart," Mealy said.
style=> "We want to win it all and didn't want it to

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>Watts know he can count on him in any big game.

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>"It's not the size of the dog in the fight; it's the
size of the fight in the dog," he said of Mealy.
style=> "He's the epitome of that."

mso-highlight:yellow'>#3 - - Turn Up the Pressure:
style=> Armstrong certainly did it defensively,
using a variety of traps and presses to give Matoaca
and some of its inexperienced players in this spot some problems.
style=> The Wildcats showed multiple defensive looks,
using a 1-2-2 half-court trap, a 2-2-1 half-court trap and even a 2-2-1
three-quarter court press.

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>As a result of their defensive pressure, the Wildcats
forced Matoaca into 19 turnovers, six coming in the
third quarter and four in the final period.

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>"Our defense leads to our offense.
style=> When we play defense, we feel like we're
going to steal the ball. Our motto is
hurry up and go get it," noted Cooley, who keyed the defensive charge with his
five steals. "That's how we play

class=SpellE>Matoaca lost its lead early in the fourth quarter, they
would tie the game up again and even take the lead, but never fully recovered
and settled down to where they could take the last shot to win or tie the game
to send it to overtime.

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>With 55 seconds left and down a point, the Warriors had
the ball stolen by Mealy, and from there the Wildcats were able to sink
free-throws to ice the victory.

One Win Away from State's:
style=> At 24-3 overall, Armstrong sits just one
victory away from making it to the Group AAA State Tournament, which would be
an enormous accomplishment for a program that most expected to finish third in
the Capital District behind Henrico and perennial contender Highland Springs.

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>"This is huge," Coach Watts said of the opportunity.
style=> "Right now the school and the community are
buzzing. I told the guys at the beginning
of the season to put the school on their back and the community on their back.
style=> Let's go down Broad Street until we get to
Harrison. Right now, they've accepted
that challenge, and here we are."

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>Armstrong's next challenge will come in the Central
Region Tournament semifinals on Thursday night against John Marshall, the
Colonial District Champ which enters with a record of 23-4 overall.

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>"We've been waiting for this for a long time," Cooley
added. "This team loves each other.
style=> We've got experience, pass the ball to get
buckets and have a lot of weapons.

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>Mealy, who battled stomach virus before Tuesday's tilt
with Matoaca, is anxious to get a shot at playing for
a State Tournament berth and the Central Region Championship.

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>"I've never been there before," he said.
style=> "It's great."

href="">Postgame Audio with
Armstrong Coach Darryl Watts


Kevon Cooley - - 28Pts. (22Pts. 2nd Half), 11-18FG,
6-6FT, 9Reb. 3Ast. 5Stl.
Tavon Mealy - - 21Pts. 8-15FG, 5-8FT, 12Reb. (8Off.),
Robert Valentine - - 12Pts. 6-16FG, 2-2FT
Eric Lundy - - 6Pts. 2-4FG, 2-2FT, 3Reb.

line-height:115%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif"'> 66:
B.J. Allen - - 18Pts. 9-10FG, 7Reb. 2Blk. 4PF
Khalil Coleman - - 12Pts. 6-13FG, 7Ast.
Lewis - - 11Pts. 4-8FG, 3-4FT, 9Reb. 6Ast.
Resean Bolton - - 9Pts. 4-6FG, 4Reb.



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