Hopewell Routs Prince George, Takes Third Place
By JACOB VAUGHAN, Sports Editor
Jan 2, 2013, 13:39
Hopewell junior Tabyus Taylor (20) drives the lane during the third-place game of the Fort Lee Holiday Basketball Tournament on Saturday at the MacLaughlin Center. The Blue Devils scored the first 23 points and went on to beat Prince George 75-54 (photo by Jacob Vaughan).
FORT LEE – Hopewell coach Reggie Simon challenged his team to play an aggressive, unselfish brand of basketball during a tilt with Prince George in the third-place game of the Fort Lee Holiday Tournament on Saturday.
As it turns out, the Blue Devils are pretty good at Simon says.
Hopewell led 33-2 after the first quarter and drained 11 3-pointers en route to a 75-54 victory over its Central District rival at the MacLaughlin Center.
Simon – who called the opening frame “the best quarter I’ve been a part of as a head coach” – said the win atoned for his team’s lackluster semifinal showing against Varina.
Senior point guard Octavious Taylor agreed. “We knew we had to recover from that loss,” he said. “We had to pick up the defense, create more passes and stop turning the ball over.”
Daniel Saunders led the Blue Devils in their offensive endeavors. The sophomore guard poured in a game-high 22 points, 13 of which came in the first quarter. Hopewell started the game on a 23-0 tear, a run that spanned six minutes and included a four-point play from junior Tabyus Taylor.
“It was very important for us to get off to a good start,” Simon said. “And seek some redemption for our poor play Friday night. I thought the guys came out focused and energized, and it helps when you’re making shots.”
Prince George freshman Savonte Chappell, who posted a team-high 15 points in his first varsity start, scored the Royals’ only first-quarter field goal with 1:50 remaining. The result was a foregone conclusion by the time they notched their next bucket.
The Blue Devils led by as many as 36 in the second quarter and took a 49-15 advantage into the locker room at halftime. The intermission couldn’t come soon enough for the hapless Royals, who struggled mightily to create open shots.
Hopewell senior Donovan Ennis (10) pulls up for a jump shot as Prince George senior Shawn Broughton (21) defends on Saturday at Fort Lee (photo by Jacob Vaughan).
Normally a press-heavy team, Hopewell stymied Prince George with tenacious halfcourt defense. The Royals managed only six field goals in the opening half, a dubious distinction made worse by Hopewell’s nine conversions from beyond the arc.
“When we’re hitting our shots we are a very dangerous team,” Simon said. “All we have to do is make sure that we look for one another. I think at times we’re not as unselfish as we need to be.”
Hopewell was more than willing to share the ball on this afternoon. Eight Blue Devils players scored in the first two quarters, nine by game’s end.
The Royals awoke from their slumber in the third quarter and outscored the Blue Devils 39-26 in the final 16 minutes, but they never trailed by fewer than the final margin in the second half.
Prince George seniors Shawn Broughton and Dre Strickland combined for 25 points – 12 in the fourth quarter – but the normally prolific backcourt tandem was held scoreless for long stretches at a time.
The same duo racked up a combined 51 points in a 10-point loss to Hopewell on Dec. 4. Simon said his defensive gameplan was designed to prevent a repeat performance.
“Going into the game, we said, ‘Hey, you know who their scorers are,’” Simon said. “We had to keep them from getting started.”
Broughton scored all of his 14 points in the second half. Prince George fell to 3-6 on the season.
Octavious Taylor and Donovan Ennis each drained a pair of 3s and finished with 12 points. Tabyus Taylor and Tevin Holloway chipped in with eight apiece. Tabyus Taylor’s wide-ranging production also included six assists and six steals.
Saunders, who led the Blue Devils in scoring in all three of the team’s games at Fort Lee, was named Hopewell’s most valuable player. Simon said the shooting guard is gaining confidence with every game in his first year on the varsity squad.
“He’s a good shooter and he’s only going to get better,” Simon said. “I feel like whenever he gets his feet set, it’s going to be a good shot.”
With the win, the Blue Devils improved to 8-3 overall. Hopewell will meet Petersburg – which won its seventh consecutive Fort Lee title on Saturday – for the first time this season on Friday.
“This is definitely a win that we need to build on,” Simon said. “Now we have to focus our minds on the district slate.”
HHS: 33 16 13 13 – 75
PGHS: 2 13 18 21 – 54
HOPEWELL: Ennis 12, Holloway 8, Saunders 22, Smith 0, T. Taylor 8, O. Taylor 12, Boney 0, Fernandez 0, Spencer 0, K. Taylor 2, Monds 4, Bryant 2, D. Taylor 5. Totals: 28 8-10 75. 3-pointers: Saunders 4, Ennis 2, Holloway 2, O. Taylor 2, T. Taylor.
PRINCE GEORGE: Strickland 11, Ramsey 1, Alexander 0, Broughton 14, Conwell 0, Williams 6, Fullman 0, Golden 4, Wright 0, Chappell 15, Marks 0, Richardson 0, Rose 3, Sally 0. Totals: 19 13-25 54. 3-pointers: Broughton 2, Strickland.