Saunders, Blue Devils Overtake Chiefs
By JACOB VAUGHAN, Sports Editor
Jan 17, 2013, 13:53
HOPEWELL - One dominant quarter was enough to outweigh three frames of mediocrity for the Hopewell High School boys basketball team on Monday.
Floated by a 28-11 third-quarter surge, the Blue Devils claimed a 64-60 non-district victory over visiting Monacan at Leadbetter Gymnasium.
The stellar showing in the penultimate frame helped
Hopewell sophomore Daniel Saunders (14) hit five 3-pointers and scored 22 points against Monacan on Monday (photo by Jacob Vaughan).
Hopewell overcome an abysmal shooting performance in the first half. The subsequent lead proved to be just large enough for the Blue Devils to stave off a fourth-quarter comeback bid from the feisty Chiefs.
"It's always good when we win, but I thought we played an awful first half," said Hopewell coach Reggie Simon. "I thought we played much better in the second half."
The visitors took a 6-2 lead in the game's early stages but were left clinging to a 10-8 advantage at the end of the opening quarter. Tajee Smith turned the narrow edge into a double-digit gap by the intermission.
The senior point guard scored 11 of his game-high 23 points in the second quarter, connecting on a finger roll, a wide-open 3-pointer and a high-arching jumpshot in quick succession.
Meanwhile, Hopewell's offensive woes worsened with every possession. The Blue Devils made one of 11 free throws and missed several layups in the opening half, allowing the Chiefs to methodically assemble a 27-17 lead.
The half ended fittingly with Hopewell missing a free throw, and Simon called his team's performance in the first 16 minutes "painful to watch."
"We couldn't sustain anything," Simon said. "We couldn't make any free throws and we couldn't make any shots." That all changed abruptly at the onset of the second half, thanks in large part to Hopewell sophomore Daniel Saunders.
The 6-foot shooting guard caught fire and drained five 3-pointers in the third frame, starring in an eight-minute stretch that saw Hopewell turn a 12-point deficit into a seven-point lead.
Simon attributed Saunders' barrage to better ball movement and on-court positioning.
"I thought we didn't have good spacing early in the game," Simon said. "I thought [Saunders] was too tight and the defense was able to cover him on the pass real quickly. I thought we did a better job of moving the ball in the second half."
Senior Tevin Holloway put Hopewell out front for the first time by converting a pair of free throws that made the score 33-32 with 4:33 left in the period, and the gap grew to 12 points before the Chiefs mounted a furious rally.
Monacan junior Maleek Crute canned three treys in the final stanza, the third of which reduced Hopewell's lead to 61-60 with about a minute remaining. But the Blue Devils proved they had exercised their first-half demons by converting three of four attempts from the charity stripe to clinch the win in the waning seconds.
"It was good to see us knock some free throws down in the second half after all the ones we missed in the first half," Simon said.
Saunders scored 20 of his team-high 22 points after halftime while Tabyus Taylor racked up 10 of his 15 in the final quarter.
Crute and Hopewell sophomore Darrell Taylor rounded out the double-figure scorers with 15 and 10 points, respectively.
MHS: 10 17 11 22 - 60
HHS: 8 9 28 19 - 64
MONACAN: Smith 23, Carson 0, Crute 15, Redmond 4, Richey 0, Jones 0, Wingo-Reeves 5, Parker 8, Johnson 5. Totals: 19 17-24 60. 3-pointers: Crute 3, Smith 2.
HOPEWELL: Ennis 2, Holloway 9, Saunders 22, T. Taylor 15, O. Taylor 2, Fernandez 2, Monds 0, Bryant 2, D. Taylor 10. Totals: 23 12-24 64. 3-pointers: Saunders 5, Holloway.