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Petersburg Gets Defensive In Second Half
By Ryan Lazo, sports editor
Dec 6, 2013, 23:00

Ryan Lazo/Hopewell News/News-Patriot
PETERSBURG After allowing 45 points in the first half of play, the Crimson Wave players gathered themselves in the locker room, knowing that kind of defensive effort would not be enough to defeat Matoaca.

The Warriors are among the best teams in the 5A Conference for a reason. They possess lightning-quick guards in Khalil Coleman and Devin Morgan, making them a difficult match-up for any team.

But in a 2:13 span to begin the third quarter, Petersburg took control of the game by turning up the defensive pressure, forcing five Warriors' turnovers while executing an 8-2 run to grab a nine-point lead en route to a convincing 84-67 victory in their home-opener.

"We're a defensive team," Crimson Wave head coach Rick Hite said after the win. "The first thing I said at halftime was that we gave up 45 points. That's too many. Our guys got the message."

Hite's Peterburg team did not just receive the message, but executed it to perfection on the court.

While Matoaca's guards had their way with the Crimson Wave's man-to-man defense in the first half by penetrating into the lanes for easy scores, it stopped in the second. Petersburg made a conscious effort to keep their man in front of them and rotated quickly with help defense when they were unable to contain the guards.

But the full-court pressure Petersburg played throughout the game seemed to also cause a mental toll for the Warriors, tiring them down. In fact, after scoring 45 points in the first 16 minutes, Matoaca managed just 34 in the second-half sealing their fate.

However, perhaps most impressive to Hite was his team's ability to win in spite of both Gevon Arrington and Adonis James not playing up to their lofty standards, seemingly affected by first-game jitters.

"They were off," Hite said of his forwards. "I thought they used each other well and I also thought Kaimonne' Douglas came off the bench and gave us great production. I will not be surprised if he has a blow-up game at some point this season because he finds ways to score the basketball."

Hite's right.

With Petersburg off to a slow start in the first quarter, it was Douglas who gave the team the instant boost it needed. Trailing 11-6, Douglas hit his first mid-range jump-shot and followed it up with a 3-pointer just two possessions later.

His 13 points, eight of those in the back-and-fourth first half of action, helped Petersburg stay within striking distance as Matoaca's shots continued to fall.

But Douglas had help from 6-foot-3 forward Rasean Bolton.

Bolton used his athleticism and strength to pound Matoaca's forwards in the paint, drawing fouls and getting to the line. While it may go overlooked, it was Bolton's effort on the glass which created second and sometimes third chances for Petersburg.
Ryan Lazo/Hopewell News/News-Patriot

Without his rebounding and 13 points, the Crimson Wave could have found themselves in a tighter game and it did not go unnoticed by Hite.

"This game was hardest on him out of everybody. Those were his friends," Hite said of the forward who transferred schools and is getting used to a new system. "It's tough and he did a great job of keeping his emotions in check. He let the game come to him and that's a mark of a good basketball player."

Yet, the key player for Petersburg was James.

While the 5-foot-9 guard struggled early, hoisting up some bad-looking shots and turning the ball over at a frequent rate, he turned his game around and in the process helped the Crimson Wave to victory.

It seemed whenever Matoaca was in the midst of run which could change momentum, it was James answering the call, highlighting his importance to Petersburg.

"He's a clutch performer," Hite said of James' 22-point performance. "I'm going to ride with Adonis James to the very end."

And for this Crimson Wave team, James' performance could not have come at a better time on opening night or against a better opponent.

Last season, it was the Warriors who had Peterburg's number, defeating them three separate times. Included in the three wins was a 66-47 victory which clinched the No. 1 seed for Matoaca upon entering the Central Region Tournament.

While just the first game of the season each team was not at their best it's a win which could propel the Crimson Wave to greater heights after disappointing last season with their play.

"They're a good basketball team. Last year is last year, but we wanted to come out tonight and beat a good basketball team," Hite said. "Find a way to beat a good basketball team ... we had to get over the hump. It's as much mental as it is physical. Now our guys know that, hey, we can beat a team that actually beat us three times last year."

After eliminating their personal tormentor from last season and picking up a 17-point opening night victory without playing a complete game, Petersburg has the look of a team which could live up to its own lofty standards.

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