Last Updated: Mar 31st, 2014 - 14:20:42

Petersburg Bests Hopewell, Earns Fort Lee Title
By Ryan Lazo, sports editor
Dec 28, 2013, 21:30

Ryan Lazo/Hopewell News/News-Patriot
FORT LEE Under three minutes left in regulation. Three full minutes of shut-down basketball until Petersburg earned another banner to adorn the wall right behind their backs. Three minutes for sheer delirium to engulf the pro-Petersburg crowd.

Six-point lead with 2:26 remaining, seemingly insurmountable after a Resean Bolton drive to the hoop ended with the basketball going through nylon. But then, Tabyus Taylor dribbled up the court, halted by two Crimson Wave defenders, before faking a move beyond the 3-point line and turning back inside for an uncontested lay-up.

Four points separating the two schools located just 10.4 miles away from each other. Just under two minutes left to decide a champion. Then, on an afternoon he was held scoreless through the game's first 30:07, Kaimonne' Douglas went baseline and soared, dropping in the mid-range floater.

"To be honest, we didn't go in and key on any one guy," Hopewell head coach Robbie St. John said of his team's defensive effort on Douglas. "We went with our regular defense ... when you punch someone in the mouth and they come back at you, it really lets you know who you are."

On an ensuing inbounds play, deja vu struck in the MacLaughlin Fitness Center. Hopewell's inbounds was stolen by the Crimson Wave's Gevon Arrington, eerily similar to a game-clinching steal against Prince George just under 24 hours earlier.

"We talk about this," Petersburg head coach Rick Hite said. "If you make a mistake on one end, you make it up on the other. Right before the steal, he kind of made a mistake and he followed our principles. He did a good job. He's a senior, he's supposed to."

Two free throws later, the Crimson Wave held a commanding eight-point lead as Douglas nailed both giving him 4 points on the night with only 1:18 remaining.

However, in the following 17 seconds, Taylor finished a penetrating drive, drew the foul and made the free throw, pushing his game-total to 20 points. Then, Deonte Jones stole the Petersburg inbounds, scoring another Blue Devils bucket, cutting the lead to three.

Stunned silence.
Ryan Lazo/Hopewell News/News-Patriot

Crimson Wave guard Adonis James then dribbled off a few precious seconds before being fouled where he missed the front-end of a one-and-one attempt his only miss from the line on the game as he went 6-of-7 for 9 points sending the scattering of Hopewell fans into a frenzy.

Just 42.6 seconds remained, Blue Devils down by three and holding possession. A 3-point attempt from Taylor clanked off back-iron, but it was rebounded by Hopewell when another shot missed and the Blue Devils reclaimed possession. Jones, the second-highest Hopewell scorer with 11 points had a point-blank chance, but missed.

The rebound was corralled by Arrington as he was immediately fouled with 15.7 remaining.

Jubilation in the stands.

"I should have said, 'we are not shooting a three, keep going to the rim,'" St. John said of the possession. "We wasted a possession where we got the ball back, jacked a three and fouled them. That's on me ... we were getting to the rack and that's how we should have finished the game."

But it was the Crimson Wave who finished the game.

Ryan Lazo/Hopewell News/News-Patriot
Arrington connected on his two free throws followed by James connecting on his next two Petersburg hit 19-of-23 foul shots for the game and suddenly the lead ballooned to seven with just 3.8 seconds remaining.

Hopewell inbounded the ball...three...two...Jones fired up a 3-point left The buzzer sounded and cheers erupted in the stands as Hopewell's dejection is countered with the Crimson Wave's jubilation.

Hite took one last glance at the scoreboard to read the final numbers: Petersburg 60, Hopewell 53.

"That's a Petersburg, Hopewell game. That's how it's going to be," Hite said. "I don't know if this determines who the better team is, I just think we better on the scoreboard tonight. I don't know if we're better than them or their better than us."

On this night, it was the Crimson Wave (6-2) who were the better team for much of the game. When plays needed to be made, it was Petersburg who connected.

Late in the third quarter, Hopewell (5-4) went on a 4-0 run to take a 32-30 lead and the momentum. Yet, on the very next possession, Aundrey Fitzgerald, more known for his defense, connected on his second 3-pointer of the contest, giving the Crimson Wave the lead for good.

"Aundrey is a defensive guy for us, but he's shown the ability to make shots for us," Hite said. "And I want him to shoot the ball more."

While Hopewell was burned by big plays from the cast of usual suspects for Petersburg, their biggest enemy was themselves. The Blue Devils shot just 50 percent from the free-throw line, missing three front-ends of one-and-ones, leaving as much as 12 points on the court.

One inch to the right or left and it could have been a different story. Hopewell could have captured their first Fort Lee Holiday Tournament Championship since 2000. But as the clock struck zero, the Crimson Wave had added another banner to their collection which now stands at 16 total.

Yet, in the minds of the fans and players walking out of the gym, one date is now on their mind Jan. 7. The rematch between two Central District foes who bring out the best in one another. What type of tension is in store will be anyone's guess.

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