Jayem Wins 67-66 Thriller

Conference 26 Tournament Semifinals:
Final - - #1 John Marshall
67, #4 Armstrong 66

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>It had the feel of a State Tournament game from the
outset until the final whistle blew. In
a battle that featured numerous lead changes and several ties, the John
Marshall Justices broke the last tie when senior point guard
style='mso-bidi-font-weight:normal'> Burton sank a free-throw with 2.5
seconds remaining to give his team a 67-66 win that sent the fourth-seeded
Armstrong Wildcats home in the Conference 26 Tournament semifinals on Tuesday
night at Petersburg High School.

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>Armstrong, which lost to John Marshall 71-47 back on
January 18th at the Lawson Classic at Virginia State University, came in ranked
#8 in the state in Group 3A and was trying to avoid being eliminated by the
Justices for the second straight year.
Last season, John Marshall beat the Wildcats in the Central Region
Tournament semifinals, denying them a berth to the State Playoffs.

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>This time, Armstrong battled back from a seven-point
deficit with 2:48 to play to knot the score when
normal'> Cooley raced up the court for a deuce, followed by fellow senior
guard Robert Valentine scoring after
the Wildcats stole the inbound pass. But
a reach-in foul during a scrum for the ball on the floor sent John Marshall to
the foul line for a pair of free-throws to keep the game from going to

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>"It was back-and-forth the entire game.
style=> Those guys had a great game-plan, executed to
the fullest and Coach [Darryl]
style='mso-bidi-font-weight:normal'>Watts and his staff did a phenomenal
job," remarked a relieved John Marshall Head Coach
normal'>Ty White afterwards.

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>"The closeness, togetherness and one of the words we
have on our practice uniforms and game uniforms is family.
style=> Those guys tonight showed it from the beginning
to the end. When things get tight, they're
going to stick together regardless. It's
not my most talented team, but it's by far my best team in regards to
togetherness and caring for each other."

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>John Marshall, which fell to Henrico in last year's AAA
State Championship, starts only one senior in its lineup in Burton.
style=> On the night, he approached triple-double
numbers with 12 points, seven rebounds and eight assists, plus provided crucial
plays defensively as well.

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>"Quaman Burton is a guy we
say has a tool belt. He can do it for us
in so many different ways, from scoring to rebounding.
style=> His leadership is unparalleled to anyone in
the state of Virginia," commented White.
"I've been around a lot of kids, coached a lot of kids and this kid's
leadership is unreal. He refused to let
his team lose tonight."

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>Burton's basket with 1:11 remaining made it to a
two-possession game at 63-58. Three
missed free-throws by the Justices in the final 40 seconds nearly cost them,
but Armstrong committed 19 turnovers for the game, six in the fourth quarter
and none stung more than their one with 31.6 seconds left that allowed John Marshall
to back to the charity stripe to increase the lead to four.

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>Operating against Armstrong's 3-2 and 2-3 zone
defenses, the Justices opened up a 22-16 lead early in the second quarter.
style=> The Wildcats were able to turn John Marshall
over 11 times in the first half and took a 29-28 lead into intermission with
their combo of Valentine and Cooley combining for 21 points.

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>"That's what happens when you get a bunch of Team
Loaded guys on the other team. It's the
way you expect it," joked White. "If you're
going to win a state title, you have to win games like this.
style=> It's going to be a journey.
style=> Coach Blackwell told the guys before we left
the locker room at half-time, 'see you at practice tomorrow.'"

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>White's Justices, ranked #2 in the state currently in
Group 3A, moves to 17-4 overall and secured a regional playoff berth.
style=> They await the winner of the George
Wythe/Hopewell semifinal that'll be played on Wednesday night, set to face
whoever emerges from that contest in the Conference 26 Championship.

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>Armstrong, who beat Thomas Jefferson of Richmond in the
quarterfinals of the conference tourney, saw its season end at 16-6 overall.

mso-highlight:yellow'>Player of the Game:
style=> Armstrong G Robert Valentine - - For the
first time this season, I give the nod on Player of the Game to someone on the
losing team, and this comes in the final game of his career in a Wildcats uniform.
style=> Certainly, a legitimate case could be made
for a few guys on John Marshall, which put three in double-figures and had
another player nearly post a double-double.

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>Valentine did just about everything imaginable to keep
his team in the game and have a chance to win.
On the night, he finished up with 33 points on 10-of-16 shooting from
the field, made 11-of-12 from the foul line and consistently made big shots,
showing that he can put the ball on the floor now better than he has in the
past to increase his scoring ability as well as separation from the defender.

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>In the fourth quarter with the game on the line,
Valentine didn't get stage fright at all and embraced the moment.
style=> Of Armstrong's 18 fourth quarter points, 13
were scored by him, earning plenty of praise from the opposing coaching staff.

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>"He was clutch, tough, great kid, love his effort,"
stated White. "[Valentine] and Cooley
are warriors. Both of those guys fought
all the way until the end and trying to do their best to keep their team alive."

Keys to Victory:

- - Sniper Sheppard:
of John Marshall's best players all season long has been sophomore guard
style='mso-bidi-font-weight:normal'>Jeremy Sheppard, who holds offers
already from Hampton University and Mount St. Mary's.
style=> His perimeter shooting proved to be an
enormous asset against the speedy, athletic Wildcats.

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>Coming into Wednesday night's game, Sheppard had made
75 three-pointers and was averaging 19.1 points per game.
style=> Eclipsing his average, he scored 21 points on
5-of-10 shooting from long distance.
Three of those long range makes were in the second half.

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>In addition to his sterling outside shooting, Sheppard
provided some pivotal plays defensively, coming up with a team-high four steals
that turned into points at the other end on a couple of occasions.

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>"He's clever, witty and his anticipation is unreal,"
White said. "He's calm [and] poised."

#2 - - Defend the 3-Point Line:
style=> Even though Valentine burned the Justices
for 33 points, John Marshall did a better than decent job defending the
three-point line, primarily in the fourth quarter in building that seven-point

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>Armstrong shot 2-for-9 from long distance for the
game. In fact, their only player that
connected on a three-pointer was Valentine.

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>Sheppard made the Justices +9 in three-point shooting
for the game. And in a tilt that came
down to the final possession that mattered a great deal.

#3 - - Offensive Boards:
style=> For the night, John Marshall came up with
20 offensive rebounds. To put that in
perspective, Armstrong grabbed only 18 defensive rebounds, so when John
Marshall missed, they were getting another crack more times than not.

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>Seven of those offensive boards were yanked down by
junior 6-foot-8 forward Nate Williams,
who holds offers from Hampton University and Campbell.

"Verdana","sans-serif"'>"Nate Williams gave us everything.
style=> He told us he was going to get us a double-double
and he was right there," remarked White.

style='text-decoration:none;text-underline:none'>Postgame Audio with John
Marshall Coach Ty White


Marshall Justices 67:
style=> (17-4 Overall)
Jeremy Sheppard - - 21Pts. 6-14FG, 5-10 3's, 4-4FT, 3Reb. 4Stl
Quaman Burton - - 12Pts. 4-12FG, 4-11FT, 7Reb. 8Ast.
Taqqi Muhammad - - 11Pts. 5-8FG, 1-4FT, 3Reb. 3Stl
Nate Williams - - 9Pts. 3-10FG, 3-4FT, 11Reb.
Jay Broaddus - - 7Pts. 3-9FG, 5Reb.
Greg Jones - - 6Pts. 3-7FG, 5Reb.

Wildcats 66:
style=> (16-6 Overall)
Robert Valentine - - 33Pts. 10-16FG, 2-6 3's, 11-12FT, 2Reb.
Cooley - - 17Pts. 7-15FG, 3-6FT, 10Reb. 2Ast. 2Stl.
Harrison Bates - - 9Pts.
class=GramE>3-6FG, 3-3FT, 9Reb.
Travon Brown - - 4Pts. 2-3FG



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 State Basketball Analyst for
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Network. Check out
text-decoration:none;text-underline:none'>Hatfield's Twitter page
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and you can also read his work in the
style='font-size:12.0pt;line-height:115%;font-family:"Times New Roman","serif";
text-decoration:none;text-underline:none'>Suffolk News Herald
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To contact Matthew, please e-mail
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115%;font-family:"Times New Roman","serif"'>, and don't forget to listen to him
every Saturday at 10AM on
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plus watch him on the
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