Prince George Drops First Contest Of Season
By Ryan Lazo, sports editor
Jan 4, 2014, 16:43
Ryan Lazo/Hopewell News/News-Patriot
PRINCE GEORGE — The Royals junior varsity team walked onto their home court filled with confidence. They had won their first seven games in a row and had done so in impressive fashion.
Opposing teams struggled to deal with their Royal defense — a full-court pressure defense which mentally exhausts teams and leads to easy scores — and it led to easy victories. However, in the championship round of the junior varsity tournament, Prince George met their match in L.C. Bird.
The Skyhawks and Royals traded baskets for much of the first 10 minutes of action before Bird took over for the rest of the quarter. Prince George managed just six more points the rest of the period as they saw a 15-14 deficit expand to a 33-20 one.
Prince George could never get any closer than the 13-point spread even with a better offensive effort in the third quarter as the Skyhawks rolled to a dominating 58-37 victory, handing the Royals their first loss of the season.
"I thought we came out strong," Royals head coach Mayes Marks said after the game. "I thought everything we did in the first quarter was fine. We were breaking their press easily ... the only problem is they were getting breakaways on us when we were missing."
And the inability to make shots on a consistent basis may have been the simplest reason for the Royals' struggles against Bird.
However, through the game's first 12 minutes, it seemed likely Prince George would be able to figure it out. They did not allow the Skyhawks to jump ahead early even while struggling to score based entirely on the play of Su'wayne Turner in the post.
The forward who dons the No. 41, plays exactly like his counterpart on the varsity, utilizing his tremendous arm length and ability to finish in the low blocks. In fact, Turner kept the Royals afloat, scoring their first 14 points in the game and finishing with 16 points total.
"I think if we got a little lay-up over here or shot over there, it would have been different," Mayes said of the result. "It's the fun part of basketball, the tide can change so quickly. One pop of the three and a stop there, it's a five, 10-point turnaround and it's a different game."
It was in the third quarter where it looked as if Prince George would make a run. With the Skyhawks keying on Turner on the inside, the scoring load fell on the shoulders of Karl Jones Jr and he answered the call.
The guard tallied seven points in the quarter, en route to recording 11 points on the game, but ultimately, it was the Royals' defense which could not make the plays it needed to make. Coaches always remind their teams that winning games comes down to executing stops on defense and scoring on offense.
Ryan Lazo/Hopewell News/News-Patriot
Yet, the Royals had no answer for L.C. Bird's Tahkey Williams in the low-post.
The big forward ran the court well in transition and utilized a multitude of moves to find himself into the paint for uncontested lay-ins, totaling 27 points in total. However, Williams had 27 points through three quarters.
In comparison, the Royals had tallied just 31 points.
"Our defender on him, although he had a heck of a tournament, probably got up a little too close on him," Mayes said. "He should have gotten off of him and made him a jump-shooter instead of a driver because he was putting the ball on the floor real well."
However, the loss may actually be beneficial to a Prince George squad that had entered the game undefeated through their previous seven contests.
It gives Marks the ammunition he needs to go back to stressing the basics in practice. It will give the team added motivation to not suffer another hiccup the rest of the way.
But most importantly, it tests the resolve of a team that has yet to deal with adversity this season. The loss to the Skyhawks provides their first case of it.
"We only have one day to kinda do that," Marks said of focusing on the basics. "We hope that we can correct our problems, but I still think we are fine. I was really tickled with the Clover Hill game yesterday ... we played the way I know we're capable."
That will be the key for this Prince George squad. They know what their team is capable of accomplishing, but future success will come down to execution and a winning mind-set.