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Fort Lee: Strickland, Royals Escape Eagles
By JACOB VAUGHAN, Sports Editor
Dec 28, 2012, 16:56

Prince George senior Dre Strickland (left) scored 18 points and hauled in eight rebounds on Thursday against Chesterfield Community at Fort Lee (photo by Jacob Vaughan).

FORT LEE – Donning red socks and uniforms trimmed in green, a festive-looking Prince George boys basketball team emerged victorious from a clash with Chesterfield Community in the first round of the Fort Lee Holiday Tournament on Thursday.

But the win was far from gift-wrapped.

After leading by 15 points, the Royals watched their once-comfortable cushion shrink to three in the fourth quarter before mustering a finishing kick just strong enough to secure a 64-58 victory at the MacLaughlin Center.

“They weren’t going to go away and just let us walk out of there with the win, that’s for sure,” Prince George coach Dave Hettinger said of the comeback-minded Eagles. “We earned every bit of that one.”

Prince George senior Dre Strickland registered team highs with 18 points and eight rebounds while Shawn Broughton helped stave off the Eagles’ late rally by hitting all six of his fourth-quarter free throws.

The senior duo combined to notch 14 points in the final frame, and Strickland’s knack for scoring timely buckets kept Chesterfield Community at bay for just long enough.

“He has a calming effect on the team,” Hettinger said. “He’s a good ball handler and we know when we get the ball to him it’s in good hands.”

The sure-handed Strickland helped the Royals overcome a sluggish start by racking up eight points in the opening stanza. His floater from the lane punctuated a 7-0 run that gave the Royals an 18-8 lead at quarter’s end.

A back-and-forth second quarter concluded with the Royals out front by the same margin (28-18), but the Eagles showed signs of life in the early stages of the second half.

Trailing 33-18, the Tri-Rivers District representatives reduced the deficit to seven with a 14-6 run to close the third quarter. Made possible by tenacious man-to-man defense the methodical burst might have been even more effective had the Eagles been able to convert their bevy of offensive rebounds into second-chance points.

“Third quarters haven’t been good to us this year,” Hettinger said.

The Royals’ halfcourt offense regained its fluidity in the fourth quarter. Broughton’s perfect trip to the free throw line gave Prince George another 15-point lead at 50-35 with 6:02 remaining.

Once again, it appeared the Royals were destined for a double-digit victory. But the Eagles pieced together another momentum-seizing run – this time a 19-7 surge – to hoist themselves back in contention.

Chesterfield Community guard Jaki Clayton knocked down a wide-open 3-pointer from the top of the key that made the score 57-54 with 1:35 remaining. In turn, Trae Davis converted an old-fashioned three-point play with 43 seconds left that created more nervous moments for the Prince George faithful.

But Strickland and Broughton banished the Eagles to the consolation bracket with flawless trips to the foul line in the waning moments.

Prince George junior Brian Fullman finished with 15 points. The forward was 5-for-5 from the charity stripe, scored all five of his field goals in the paint and came up with five steals. Broughton finished with 14 points and five assists.

Clayton led the Eagles with 15 points while Brandon Townsend and Davis chipped in with 11 and nine, respectively. Chesterfield Community drew Clover Hill, which lost to Hopewell on Thursday, in the second round.

Prince George advanced to a semi-final meeting with Petersburg. Winners of the last six Fort Lee Holiday Tournaments, the Crimson Wave beat the Royals 87-66 in a Central District game on Dec. 11.

In contrast, Prince George is in the midst of a decade-long Fort Lee title drought. Still, Hettinger said his players have aims of replicating what their tournament-winning predecessors accomplished in 1993 and 2002.

“You see Petersburg banners all up and down the wall, but it’s important for us to play well,” Hettinger said. “We’ve got two up there and we’d like to add a third.”

Strickland echoed his second-year coach’s sentiment.

“We want to win and bring it back to Prince George,” Strickland said. “It’s been 10 years.”

CCHS: 8 10 14 26 – 58
PGHS: 18 10 11 25 – 64

CHESTERFIELD COMMUNITY: Clayton 15, Townsend 11, Richardson 0, Davis 9, Brown 6, Wilkins 7, Arrington 2, Butler 2, Jordan 6. Totals: 21 10-14 58. 3-pointers: Brown 2, Clayton, Townsend, Davis, Wilkins.

PRINCE GEORGE: Strickland 18, Ramsey 0, Alexander 5, Broughton 14, Williams 3, Fullman 15, Wright 6, Chappell 1, Marks 0, Rose 2. Totals: 20 21-29 64. 3-pointers: Strickland, Alexander, Broughton.

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