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Hopewell Rallies Past Rival Prince George
By JACOB VAUGHAN, Sports Editor
Dec 6, 2012, 13:04

Hopewell seniors Octavious Taylor (22), Tre’ Bryant (42) and Donovan Ennis (10) swarm a Prince George ball handler during a Central District game on Tuesday in Prince George. The visiting Blue Devils overturned a 15-point deficit en route to an 85-75 victory in the district opener for both teams (photo by David Breidenbach).

PRINCE GEORGE – This was a masterpiece of effort, if not one of artistry.

On the strength of its tireless full-court press, the Hopewell High School boys basketball team clawed its way back from a 15-point deficit to beat Prince George 85-75 on Tuesday.

The visiting Blue Devils forced a seemingly endless stream of turnovers, made eight of their nine 3-pointers after halftime and tallied 63 second-half points to thwart their backyard rivals in the Central District opener for both teams.

The offensive onslaught was quite an about-face from a team that was limited to 11 points in each of the first two quarters.

“I thought the guys did a great job with defensive intensity,” said Hopewell coach Reggie Simon. “I felt like we were kind of lacking in the first half, but in the third quarter I thought we really picked it up.”

With the victory, Hopewell (3-0) remained undefeated and exacted a measure of revenge for a road loss to Prince George last season.

“The last time we were in this gym, we lost to Prince George,” Simon said. “And it is a rivalry game, so it’s always going to be highly competitive. They have a good team, they’re well-coached and they handle our pressure really well.”

The latter was plain to see in the early going. The Royals repeatedly broke the Blue Devils’ press in the first half and capitalized with easy buckets in transition. Prince George seniors Shawn Broughton and Dre Strickland – who finished with 26 and 25 points, respectively – were dialed in from the opening tip.

Meanwhile, Hopewell struggled mightily to develop an offensive rhythm. The Blue Devils were unable to score inside with any frequency, and jumpers from the perimeter were consistently off the mark.

“We didn’t shoot the ball well,” Simon said. “I thought they played a good zone, and we didn’t do a good job of attacking it.”

Broughton’s old fashioned three-point play gave the Royals a 17-9 lead with 1:14 remaining in the first quarter. The gap grew to 20-11 by quarter’s end and peaked at 29-14 midway through the second.

Hopewell junior Malik Monds produced an offensive rebound and putback in the final seconds of the first half, but Prince George still possessed a 33-22 cushion at the break.
Prince George senior Shawn Broughton (21) shoots as Hopewell sophomore Daniel Saunders defends on Tuesday (photo by David Breidenbach).

The third quarter started in see-saw fashion, and Hopewell seemed unlikely to overturn the double-digit deficit until the clock showed 3:54.

That’s when Simon opted for a wholesale substitution – replacing all five of his players with one fell swoop – and ratcheted up the defensive pressure.

“That’s all about keeping guys involved in the game,” Simon said. “I feel like we have 10 guys who can play no matter how the game is going. If one group is not shooting the ball well, maybe the other can come in and step up defensively.”

The tactic worked to perfection. The Blue Devils’ fresh personnel forced turnover after turnover, sending the Royals into a state of bewilderment as their once-comfortable lead began to evaporate.

The takeaways culminated in fast-break baskets, and the subsequent shift in momentum gave the Blue Devils the confidence they needed to relocate their shooting touch.

Prince George coach Dave Hettinger said Hopewell’s depth put his team on its heels in the third quarter.

“This was a tale of two halves,” Hettinger said. “We played really well in the first half and made the right decisions against their press. In the third quarter, I think they wore us down and we lost our composure.”

The visitors closed the quarter on a 19-9 run that started immediately following the mass substitution and left the Royals clinging to a 54-53 edge at the onset of the fourth quarter.

Senior Donovan Ennis came off the bench to spark the game-defining surge with nine points in the third quarter. He finished with 19.

“Donovan had an excellent shooting night,” Simon said. “As I tell the guys all the time, it’s about the team. You never know who it’s going to be, and tonight was Donovan’s night.”

While the third quarter belonged to Ennis, Hopewell junior Tabyus Taylor laid claim to the fourth. The 6-1 forward started the frame by stepping into a 3-pointer from the left side to give the Blue Devils their first lead at 56-54.

Far from finished, Tabyus Taylor proceeded to knock down three more treys before the game ended, each one further diminishing the home team’s chances. The barrage included two 3-pointers in a five-second span that gave Hopewell a 73-66 lead it would never relinquish.

Tabyus Taylor finished with a team-high 21 points while sophomore Darrell Taylor also reached double figures with 15 for the Blue Devils.

Prince George fell to 1-1 on the young season.

HOPE: 11 11 32 31 – 85
PG: 20 13 20 22 – 75

HOPEWELL (3-0): Donovan Ennis 19, Tevin Holloway 5, Daniel Saunders 5, Tabyus Taylor 21, Octavious Taylor 7, Isaiah Fernandez 2, Keion Taylor 2, Malik Monds 5, Tre’ Bryant 4, Darrell Taylor 15. Totals: 33 10-20 85. 3-pointers: T. Taylor 5, Ennis 3, Holloway.

PRINCE GEORGE (1-1): Dre Strickland 25, Jeff Ramsey 2, Malik Alexander 2, Shawn Broughton 26, Nate Williams 0, Brian Fullman 12, Devin Rose 6, John Sally 2. Totals: 29 12-16 75. 3-pointers: Strickland 3, Broughton 2.

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