Knights Roll Over Crimson Wave
By JACOB VAUGHAN, Sports Editor
Jan 10, 2013, 15:14
Thomas Dale sophomore Andrien White (right) looks for room to operate against Petersburg junior Kaimonne Douglas (14) during a Central District game on Tuesday (photo by David Breidenbach).
CHESTER – George Santayana, a Spanish philosopher, famously penned the phrase, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
With that notion in mind, Thomas Dale boys basketball coach Eddie Goss researched his team’s recent history against Petersburg. As he perused the scorebooks of yesteryear, the veteran coach discovered that the Knights had not produced a regular-season victory over the Crimson Wave since 2006.
Instead, Goss’ refresher course revealed a pattern of narrow losses and late collapses. Goss relayed his findings to his team on Monday and – armed with that knowledge – Thomas Dale put an end to the trend on Tuesday.
The Knights jumped out to an early lead against the visiting Crimson Wave and never trailed en route to a 79-71 Central District victory in Chester.
“Our kids played their butts off,” Goss said. “They played with energy, they played with excitement and they played together. They worked hard, and when we do that we’re not a bad team.”
The two squads started the game tied atop the district standings with identical 5-1 records. Thus, the win gave Thomas Dale sole possession of first place while Petersburg slipped to third in the top-heavy league.
Thomas Dale junior Collin Fleischer and senior Kavon Waller authored the statement win by scoring 18 and 16 points, respectively, and Chris Clark punctuated the result with a contested dunk that put the Knights up by 13 with less than two minutes remaining.
The visitors struggled all game to develop an offensive rhythm, a shortcoming that Petersburg coach Rick Hite said was a testament to Thomas Dale’s 2-3 zone defense.
“Their zone does that to all teams,” Hite said. “It slows you down and forces you to make shots. We didn’t make shots, and they executed and ran their stuff offensively.”
The Knights broke to a 13-6 lead early in the first frame and led 21-15 at the onset of the second. Waller, the only senior in Thomas Dale’s starting lineup, keyed the early surge with nine points. The 6-foot-4 swingman’s marksmanship was on full display in the early going as he knocked down a 3-pointer and three mid-range jumpers in the first 10 minutes.
Petersburg senior Frankie Barksdale cut the deficit to 21-17 with a fastbreak layup to start the second quarter, but that was as close as the Crimson Wave came to overtaking the Knights before halftime.
Petersburg needed a 3-pointer from Kaimonne Douglas in the waning seconds of the first half to cut the gap to 36-29 at the break.
In the third quarter, Barksdale reduced the gap to 41-37 with a pull-up jumper from the elbow, but Joseph Smith restored the Knights’ breathing room moments later with a spot-up 3 from the left wing.
Smith, who finished with 15 points, quelled another fledgling Petersburg run by canning his third 3-pointer of the game in the final seconds of the third stanza.
Smith – a 6-0 sophomore – and Clark – a 6-5 junior – helped keep the Knights afloat in the second and third quarters, when Andrien White was sidelined with foul trouble.
“They’ve been coming along,” Goss said of the duo. “[Smith] is just a sophomore, but he’s a good shooter. When he gets open, he usually knocks them down. And [Clark] played his best game tonight. That made a big difference, too.”
White, Thomas Dale’s second-leading scorer this season, rebounded from a frustrating first three quarters to notch the Knights’ first five points of the fourth.
Douglas connected on a high-arching, heavily contested 3-pointer that cut the deficit to 59-54 with 5:02 remaining, but Thomas Dale responded with a 10-2 run that culminated in Clark’s one-handed flush.
A.J. Holliday made the game-clinching play possible by pickpocketing a Petersburg ball handler in the backcourt.
“A.J. got the steal,” Clark said. “And I got the ball. When I turned around I saw an open lane, so I took it.”
Douglas banked in a deep 3-pointer at the buzzer to provide the final margin, but the basket was purely cosmetic. He finished with 20 points while Quadree Walker and Barksdale joined their hot-handed teammate in double figures with 11 apiece.
The loss relegates the Crimson Wave to a 5-2 record in district play, 8-3 overall. Boasting a 13-player rotation, Petersburg’s depth is among the best in the district. But Hite said someone on his defensive-minded team needs to take the reins in key situations on offense.
“Whether it’s a returner or a newcomer, somebody has to step up, take some leadership and make some plays for us on both ends of the floor,” Hite said.
Clark finished with 14 points while White’s nine fourth-quarter points left him with 12 on the night. Fleischer’s 10 rebounds gave him the game’s only double-double and Holliday guided the Knights with 11 assists.
Thomas Dale (6-1, 8-4) is next in action on Friday against Colonial Heights. Road outings at Hopewell (9-5, 4-3) and Matoaca (5-2, 8-4) loom next week.
“Now it starts all over again,” Goss said. “We have to build on what we’ve done. We can’t be relaxed because we beat Petersburg.”