Royals' Final Shot Misfires
By Ryan Lazo, sports editor
Dec 5, 2013, 20:15
Ryan Lazo/Hopewell News/News-Patriot
PRINCE GEORGE — After roaring back from a 14-point deficit at the end of the first quarter and taking a one-point lead with 47.6 seconds remaining, this was a game the Royals needed to win.
But H.D. Woodson did not follow along with the script the Prince George faithful wanted them to. Instead, they quickly dribbled up the court and utilized a ball-screen to free up their guard for an easy lay-in with 36 seconds left.
Prince George inbounded the ball and crossed mid-court as noise emanated from the wooden bleachers with encouragement flowing onto the hardwood. The seconds ticked off as Royals' head coach Travis Carr called out the play.
His team worked it into the paint, but were immediately surrounded by Warriors' defenders, forcing a pass back beyond the arc as the seconds ticked under 10. Finally, Cory Hill spotted Savonte Chappell right outside the elbow — six second left — he rose and fired.
The ball clanked off front iron, rolled across the back of the orange cylinder, before it fell to the hardwood as the buzzer sounded, ending the Royals' chance of picking up their first win of the season.
"It's silent in the locker room so the good thing is all 15 guys care," Carr said after his team's 62-61 loss. "I was speechless as to what I would say because you don't know what's worse, Monday's loss to begin this season or a one-point loss here at the end."
While this one surely stings, the Royals showed a rapid improvement over the course of 72 hours.
However, the improvement was not evident in the game's opening frame as Prince George dug themselves another hole to climb out of. After one full quarter, the Royals trailed 23-9, repeating the same problem which led to their first loss of the season on opening-night.
Yet, after being out-hustled for loose balls and surrendering numerous second-chance opportunities, the Royals reversed the course of the story as the buzzer sounded to begin the second quarter.
"I give full credit to them. They knew once we got down, they knew we weren't going to stand for that. That's not the way we play," Carr said. "We don't want to come out and begin games like that, so I give them credit for that second quarter where we outscored them and held them defensively to four points."
Not only did Prince George play aggressive defense in the quarter, but their offense knew how to attack the Warriors. For the first time this season, the Royals used their athleticism and physicality underneath to get to the line for easy points, resulting in a dominating 22-4 run in the eight-minute frame.
Ryan Lazo/Hopewell News/News-Patriot
Perhaps no one was more responsible for the run than Chappell.
The sophomore's physicality inside the paint allowed him score 12 points in the second quarter with eight of those points coming from the charity-stripe, showcasing his array of moves to draw the fouls.
"Savonte played a heck of a game," Carr said of the forward who dropped in a team-high 16 points. "He shouldn't hang his head just because he missed one shot at the end. We wouldn't have been in that game without him."
But Chappell also had help from a junior guard with freakish leaping ability.
Quincy Cunningham dropped in 12 points in the loss, but four of those points brought boisterous roars from the crowd because of the ferocity in his finishes. The first of which came on a breakaway after a steal for a two-handed slam.
However, the second came off a missed free throw as Cunningham flew through the lane and powered it home, inciting delirium on the Prince George bench.
Yet, while the dunks were impressive, the most important part of the 32-minute affair is the way Prince George has evolved from its first game, showing the improvement which can lead to immediate success.
"We had two excellent practices in between today and Monday night," Carr explained. "I thought some guys turned around their game and their attitude and once all 15 guys say we aren't going to have it anymore, you get an effort like this."
After a last-second disappointment, the Royals have dropped two in a row, but the effort of the team progressed exponentially which should strike fear into future opponents.
As Woodson found out, once Prince George gets rolling, they are tough to stop.