Bruins Advance to ER Quarters

background:yellow;mso-highlight:yellow'>Thomas Shoots Knights Out of the Zone:
style=> It didn't take long for Western Branch to
shake off a discouraging loss from their last game.
style=> The third-seeded Bruins built a quick 11-0
lead less than four minutes into the game of their matchup with Beach District
Tournament Champion Kellam, and stayed in control for
a 65-55 win over the Knights.

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>For Western Branch, it was their first Eastern Region
Tournament victory since 1999, and they have senior guard
normal'>C.J. Thomas to largely thank for the outstanding start that'll have
them playing in Thursday night's quarterfinals.

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>Thomas, who came in averaging less than eight points
per game, lit up King's Fork last week for a season-high 24 points and six
three-pointers. His encore performance
was even more special against the Knights, draining six three-pointers in the
first quarter alone and coring 20 points in one period as Western Branch led

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>That hot start took Kellam
out of its 1-3-1 zone defense they usually play.

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>"When I found out that they were in zone, my goal was
to shoot them out of the zone and I did that real early," Thomas said.

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>Now 18-8 overall, the Bruins sit just two wins away
from a berth in the Group AAA State Tournament, this for a basketball program
that went just 7-37 overall during the freshman and sophomore seasons of senior
starters such as Thomas,
normal'>Jashad Jamison and
style='mso-bidi-font-weight:normal'> Burns.

Player of the Game:
line-height:115%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif"'>Western Branch senior
guard C.J. Thomas.
style=> Committed to play his College Football at
Christopher Newport University, Thomas was shining in another sport on Monday
night in the opening round of regionals as he carried over a career best
performance from the Southeastern District Tournament Championship into a
win-or-go-home setting.

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>Thomas ended up with a game-high 23 points and
converted six of his first seven shots from long distance.
style=> His confidence pulling the trigger from the
perimeter has grown, and so too has his game on the hardwood.

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>"I've just been working on my shot and every game it's
been getting better and better. I'm
proving it now. Last season I don't
think I would've hit six 3's in a game.
I've become a lot more comfortable shooting," remarked Thomas after his
tremendous performance.

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>"It was just a great game.
style=> Hopefully, I'll come back and do it again on
Thursday at the Scope."

mso-highlight:yellow'>Keys to Victory:

- - Contest Snowden's Shots:
storied High School Basketball career of one
normal'> Snowden for the Kellam Knights came to
an end on Monday night. Named the Beach
District Player of the Year this season, Snowden will now go on to play his
College Basketball at Old Dominion University, where the local fans get a
chance to see him on a regular basis.

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>In his final game in a Knights uniform, Snowden put up
respectable numbers of 19 points, 14 rebounds, three
steals and made 7-of-8 from the foul line.
He did however battle foul trouble, which forced him to come out of the
game for a few stretches longer than usual, and his shooting percentage wasn't
the best at 6-of-21.

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>Credit the Western Branch defense, particularly
Jamison, who swatted away his shot on a couple of occasions, for making him
have to work extra hard to get his points on drives.

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>With Snowden on their team, Kellam
went 76-26, including 20-6 overall this season.
They won a pair of Beach District titles and got to the regional
semifinals his sophomore year. Before
his arrival, the Knights were 25-64 in the four years prior.

#2 - - 3-Point Shooting:
a team, Western Branch shot 7-of-11 from beyond the arc in the first
quarter. That's unheard of at the High
School Basketball level, considering most teams don't seven 3's in a game, let
alone in a quarter, and when they do the percentage is far less than 64%.

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>That changed the entire complexion of the game moving

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>Meanwhile, Western Branch's defense bottled up the
Knights from long distance.
class=SpellE>Kellam went 0-for-10 from three-point territory, so the
Bruins finished +24 behind the arc in the opening round of the regional

#3 - - Finish Strong:
something the Bruins didn't do when they let a 16-point lead with seven minutes
to play against King's Fork evaporate just three days prior.
style=> They've had a few double-digit advantages
disappear, and another would end their season.

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>As expected, Kellam made its
rally behind Snowden and another senior, forward
normal'>Chris Smith, who scored half of his 18 points in the third quarter.
style=> The Knights would pull within five, 45-40,
with 7:12 left after Snowden drilled a pair of free-throws.

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>Western Branch then showed composure at the other end
with consecutive buckets from Jamison, followed by made free-throws by Burns
and Drew Corrigan (son of ODU Head
Basketball Coach Jim Corrigan). After
giving up the first four points of the final period, Western Branch outscored
class=SpellE>Kellam 20-15 over the final seven minutes, never allowing
them to get within one possession down.

mso-highlight:yellow'>Region Favorite Next:
style=> During this season, Western Branch has
accomplished some goals they've set, such as knocking off Southeastern District
contenders Nansemond River and Great Bridge.
They also will be headed to the Norfolk Scope to play in the Eastern
Region Tournament quarterfinals.

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>Awaiting the Bruins will be Kecoughtan,
co-Champions of Peninsula District during the regular season and Peninsula
District Tournament Champs. The Warriors
got to the State Final Four a season ago, feature two D-1 signees in
class=SpellE>Rajay Bullock (Providence) and Greg Alexander (ECU), and
check in with a record of 23-4 overall after edging Churchland
in the opening round of regionals.

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>A Western Branch win would certainly be viewed as an
upset one of the biggest wins in basketball in school history.

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>"Every step we take, it gets bigger and bigger," Thomas
pointed out. "The harder we play, the
better we'll get. We're hoping to come
out Thursday strong. In basketball, you
never know what's going to happen."


Branch 65:
C.J. Thomas - - 23Pts. 7-13FG, 6-11 3's, 5Reb. 2Ast.
Nigel Ribeiro - - 15Pts. 3-8FG, 8-8FT, 2Ast. 4Stl
Jashad Jamison - - 11Pts. 5-8FG, 3Ast. 4Blk. 3Stl
Drew Corrigan - - 5Pts. 2-2FG, 2Reb.

line-height:115%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif"'> 55:
Ramone Snowden - - 19Pts. 6-21FG, 7-8FT, 14Reb. 2Ast.
Chris Smith - - 18Pts. 7-15FG, 4-7FT, 6Reb.
William Shook - - 8Pts. 4-8FG, 4Reb.



115%;font-family:"Times New Roman","serif";text-decoration:none;text-underline:
none'>Matthew Hatfield
style='font-size:12.0pt;line-height:115%;font-family:"Times New Roman","serif"'>
serves as AAA State Basketball Analyst for
style='font-size:12.0pt;line-height:115%;font-family:"Times New Roman","serif";
115%;font-family:"Times New Roman","serif"'>, part of the
Network. Check out
text-decoration:none;text-underline:none'>Hatfield's Twitter page
115%;font-family:"Times New Roman","serif"'> for more sports related info and
updates. To contact Matthew, please
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and don't forget to listen to him on the Hour every Saturday
at 11AM on
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none'>ESPN Radio 94.1
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and watch him on the
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