Knights Explode Past Blue Devils
By JACOB VAUGHAN, Sports Editor
Feb 6, 2013, 15:23
Thomas Dale senior Kazhana Joyce (5) dribbles upcourt during a Central District game against Hopewell on Monday in Chester. The Knights cruised to a 65-27 victory over the visiting Blue Devils (photo by Jacob Vaughan).
CHESTER – Thomas Dale senior Kazhana Joyce eyed the basket, released the ball and alerted her teammates to a probable rebound by crying out, “Off, off, off.”
The ball, however, had other ideas. Despite its shooter’s doubts, it bobbled around the rim, bounced off the backboard and fell through the hoop.
It was that kind of night for Joyce and her teammates.
The third-quarter free throw provided Thomas Dale with a 39-point cushion over visiting Hopewell. The Knights led the lopsided Central District contest by as many as 42 and coasted to a 65-27 victory on Monday in Chester.
Joyce poured in a game-high 17 points, but the home team was far from one-dimensional in its penultimate regular season outing. Makeese Bell and T’Keyah Banks also scored in double figures, racking up 12 and 10 points, respectively.
“We moved the ball around a lot,” said Thomas Dale coach Kevin Coffey. “We’re finally starting to understand what we’re doing and what it takes to get it done. I think that’s a big deal, and our confidence level has increased.”
The Knights built their lead with a pair of massive runs to end the first and second quarters. Hopewell sophomore Shatia Hubbard gave the visitors a 6-4 advantage with a backdoor cut and layup early in the first quarter, but Thomas Dale embarked on a 17-2 burst to close out the opening frame.
Six players scored during the surge, which concluded with Joyce’s fade-away, 15-foot jumpshot in the waning seconds.
Banks was a catalyst on both ends of the floor. The 6-foot-1 center – who started the game alongside four guards – spearheaded the Knights’ stout rebounding effort and limited the Blue Devils’ effectiveness off dribble drives.
“Our rebounding is a team effort, but it helps that she’s 6-1,” Coffey said. “Her height alone helps us tremendously. The girls know that if they get beat there’s somebody back there that can back them up.”
The second quarter, which began with the Knights leading 21-8, was a mirror image of its predecessor. The two teams opened the period by trading baskets, but Thomas Dale closed with a 13-1 run to lead 41-15 at halftime.
Much to the Blue Devils’ chagrin, the worst was yet to come. The Knights outscored their guests 17-2 in the third stanza, and the game featured a running clock for the majority of the second half. Hopewell senior Khadijah Myrick, who finished with a team-high 11 points, notched the Blue Devils’ only bucket of the quarter.
The Blue Devils put forth a spirited showing in the fourth and outscored the Knights’ reserves by three points, but the final result had long been solidified. With the win, Thomas Dale improved to 6-10 overall and 6-7 in district outings.
On the flip side, Hopewell fell to 2-13 and 2-11. Even with the league’s eight teams nearing the conclusion of their regular-season schedules, the postseason picture is still somewhat unclear.
Meadowbrook and Prince George – ranked No. 1 and 2, respectively – sit atop the standings, but Thomas Dale, Petersburg and Matoaca are all in contention for the third seed.
Below that cluster, Colonial Heights has already sealed a No. 6 ranking while Hopewell and Dinwiddie are competing for seventh place – and the luxury of avoiding the top-ranked Monarchs in the first round of next week’s district tournament.
“The first round [of the district tournament] is the big one. That’s what gets you to the [Central Region tournament],” Coffey said. “We want to make sure we pair up with somebody that we have a chance of beating.”
HHS: 8 7 2 10 – 27
TDHS: 21 20 17 7 – 65
HOPEWELL: Hubbard 5, Boney 7, Butler 2, Myrick 11, Smith 2, Brown 0, Hall 0. Totals: 10 6-14 27. 3-pointer: Boney.
THOMAS DALE: Flowers 2, Joyce 17, Waring 4, Millard 0, McElroy 8, Edwards 0, Monroe 5, Hector 7, Bell 12, Banks 10. 28 6-13 65. 3-pointers: McElroy, Monroe, Bell.