Last Updated: Jan 8th, 2015 - 07:42:25

Top-Ranked Warriors Boot Blue Devils
By JACOB VAUGHAN, Sports Editor
Feb 15, 2013, 16:13

Matoaca junior Khalil Coleman (5) passes to Resean Bolton (32) during a Central District semifinal game against Hopewell on Thursday at Leadbetter Gymnasium. The top-ranked Warriors won 70-62 (photo by David Breidenbach).

HOPEWELL – The Matoaca High School boys basketball team advanced to the Central District championship game by excelling in the face of pressure.

That’s literally and figuratively.

The top-seeded squad from southern Chesterfield pulled ahead in the second quarter and negotiated wave after wave of fullcourt pressure en route to a 70-62 semifinal victory over No. 4 Hopewell on Thursday at Leadbetter Gymnasium.

“Either you can handle the pressure or you can’t,” said Matoaca coach Charles Payton. “And they’re going to find out right away. Hopewell is a very quick and scrappy team, so it’s very important whenever you play Hopewell that you’re prepared for the press.”

With the victory, the regular season champions pressed on to the district title game. The loss ousted Hopewell from the district bracket, but the Blue Devils will compete in next week’s Central Region tournament as a No. 3 seed.

Hopewell sophomore Daniel Saunders netted five 3s and led all scorers with 21 points, but the Blue Devils were hamstrung by untimely turnovers and a lack of consistency on offense.

“We would play hard and make a good play, but then we would make a bad play,” said Hopewell coach Reggie Simon. “Whenever we made a bad play, it led to transition baskets for them. Then, as we were making our run, we didn’t always make good decisions.”

Hopewell senior Octavious Taylor pulls up for a short jumper during a Central District semifinal game against Matoaca on Thursday (photo by David Breidenbach).
By contrast, Matoaca’s poise never wavered. Payton said the Warriors, who started two freshman and two sophomores last year, are reaping the rewards from the growing pains they endured as underclassmen.

“These guys have learned how to play together and how to win in clutch situations,” Payton said.

Hopewell led for most of the first quarter, but Matoaca guard Myles Markland leveled the score at 10-10 with a 15-foot jumper from the right wing in the waning seconds of the opening frame.

Junior Khalil Coleman – who racked up a team-high 18 points – knocked down a triple to start the second quarter, and the Warriors never trailed again. Matoaca senior Rashard Lewis tacked on a pair of second-quarter 3-pointers, sophomore Devin Morgan added another and the Warriors led 29-22 at the interval.

Matoaca’s lead peaked at 44-34 with 3:18 left in the third, but Hopewell used 3s from Saunders and Octavious Taylor to whittle the deficit to five points by quarter’s end.

Darrell Taylor pulled the Blue Devils to within two with a contested layup that made the score 49-47 early in the final stanza, but that was as close as the tournament hosts would come.

Resean Bolton canned a 3-pointer on the ensuing possession, senior B.J. Allen bolstered the lead with a putback moments later and the Warriors matched every one of the Blue Devils’ buckets down the stretch.

Hopewell’s press, a trademark of the guard-heavy team, was rendered toothless by Matoaca’s ability to break through for easy baskets.

“We were concerned about Hopewell’s pressure,” Payton said. “We did turn the ball over a few times against their press, but once we settled down we were able to get some baskets at the rim.”

Bolton poured in 15 points for the Warriors while Lewis and Morgan added 13 apiece.

Hopewell junior Malik Monds accrued 17 points and seven rebounds while Tabyus Taylor finished with 12 points. Octavious Taylor drained two of Hopewell’s 11 3-pointers, finishing with six points, five rebounds and five assists.

The Blue Devils and Warriors split their regular-season meetings, but Simon said the postseason rubber match came down to decision making.

“Anytime you’re trailing, there’s a small margin for error,” Simon said. “We made those errors, and therefore we couldn’t get over the hump.”

MHS: 10 19 19 22 – 70
HHS: 10 12 21 19 – 62

NO. 1 MATOACA: Coleman 18, Markland 2, Taylor 0, Armstrong 0, Lewis 13, Walker 0, Morgan 13, Bolton 15, Allen 9. Totals: 26 12-25 70. 3-pointers: Lewis 2, Morgan 2, Bolton, Coleman.

NO. 4 HOPEWELL: Holloway 0, Saunders 21, T. Taylor 12, O. Taylor 6, Fernandez 0, Monds 17, Bryant 2, D. Taylor 4. Totals: 22 7-10 62. 3-pointers: Saunders 5, T. Taylor 3, O. Taylor 2, Monds.

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