Rebels Eliminate Blue Devils
By JACOB VAUGHAN, Sports Editor
Feb 21, 2013, 18:00
RICHMOND – From scoreless to scorching — it all happened so fast.
The Douglas Freeman boys basketball team knocked down four 3-pointers in five possessions against Hopewell on Monday, breaking a game-opening bucket drought that spanned more than two minutes.
By the time the Rebels’ first-quarter flurry was complete, the visiting Blue Devils were mired in a double-digit hole they would never escape. Freeman cruised to a 62-46 victory, ousting Hopewell in the first round of the Central Region tournament.
Hopewell senior Octavious Taylor (22) dribbles at a Douglas Freeman defender during the first round of the Central Region tournament on Monday (photo by Jacob Vaughan).
The second-seeded Rebels, who finished second in the Colonial District, possessed a 19-2 cushion at the end of the opening frame and never led by fewer than nine thereafter.
“Playing at home helps your shooting, and we’re good shooters,” said Freeman coach Larry Parpart. “So I wasn’t surprised. But in the playoffs, you never know what’s going to happen.”
Freeman forwards Jimmy Marshall and John Lutkenhaus removed most of the suspense from the game. Marshall, 6-foot-4, poured in a game-high 16 points while his 6-5 partner in the frontcourt tacked on 14.
The duo’s size plagued the third-seeded Blue Devils in the paint on both ends of the court, and both stepped out to the perimeter to hit a 3.
“They were hitting shots and I thought they played good defense,” said Hopewell coach Reggie Simon. “Early on, we weren’t moving offensively. I think their size really affected us. We hadn’t played a team that big all season.”
Hopewell’s early-game woes were worsened by Freeman’s willingness to run the floor in transition, but the Blue Devils showed signs of life in the second quarter.
Sophomore shooting guard Daniel Saunders netted a triple from the left wing that made the score 25-9 and sparked a 10-0 run for the Central District squad.
Saunders, a second-team all-district selection, posted a team-high 14 points despite being harassed and harried all night. Parpart said the Rebels afforded extra attention to the 3-point arc and trusted Marshall and Lutkenhaus to protect the interior.
“I thought we played good defense for most of the game,” Parpart said. “We knew they had three good 3-point shooters in Saunders and [Octavious and Tabyus] Taylor. We also knew about the inside guys, but we kind of figured the 3-point shot would hurt us more.”
The calculated risk paid dividends.
The normally hot-handed Blue Devils only connected on four 3-pointers, considerably below their season average. Freeman led 29-16 at the interval, but Hopewell reduced the deficit to 10 on three occasions in the third quarter.
Senior Tre Bryant sunk the back end of two free throws to cut it to single digits at 44-35 with 1:24 remaining in the penultimate frame, but that was as close as the visitors came.
Having negated the Blue Devils’ 3-point prowess, the Rebels reconstructed their lead in the final stanza by handling the fullcourt press — another Hopewell staple.
While they did turn the ball over a few times, the Rebels also broke past the advanced defenders for a handful of easy baskets.
“We were concerned about that,” Parpart said. “They do a couple of different presses. For the most part this year, we’ve been OK – not great, but OK – against the press. We had a couple turnovers, but I thought for the most part we handled it pretty well.”
Marshall sealed the result with a steal and breakaway dunk in the dying moments. Luke Rosman scored 11 points for Freeman, which advanced to a quarterfinal showdown at L.C. Bird.
Tabyus Taylor finished with 12 points and Darrell Taylor 10 for Hopewell, which slipped to 16-9 on the year. The loss brought an end to the Blue Devils’ season, but Simon said he is optimistic about the future.
Hopewell, which finished fourth in the district standings but beat every team in the league except for Petersburg, will return a pair of all-district performers in Tabyus Taylor and Saunders next season.
“I think the future is bright for us,” Simon said. “I think we have good kids who work hard. As long as they continue to grow and learn from this experience, we’ll continue to get better.”
Four seniors – Bryant, Tevin Holloway, Octavious Taylor and Calvin Boney – played their final game for the Blue Devils.
“It’s always tough this time of year because you never have a good feeling when your season comes to an end,” Simon said. “But as we put things in perspective, we won 16 games and advanced to the regionals.”
HHS: 2 14 19 11 – 46
DFHS: 19 10 19 14 – 62
HOPEWELL: Holloway 0, Saunders 14, T. Taylor 12, O. Taylor 3, Boney 0, Monds 6, Bryant 1, Darrell Taylor 10. Totals: 19 4-7 46. 3-pointers: Saunders 3, O. Taylor.