Prince George Falters Late Against Matoaca
By Blake Belden, staff writer
Jan 13, 2014, 08:11
Blake Belden/Hopewell News/ News Patriot
This season has been tough for the Prince George Royals varsity boys basketball team. Each game, they walk off the court leaving behind a noticeable trail of sweat, determination and physical tenacity, yet their 3-8 record doesn't provide any reasonable sort of compensation for the competitive efforts showcased on the hardwood.
For head coach Travis Carr, he wants nothing more than for his players' hard work to be rewarded with victory, however to do this he said they need to improve upon a persistence within their current strengths to capitalize on every possession of every game.
"It's 32 minutes in a basketball game, and I feel like we're playing 27 really good ones...Here and there a few turnovers, a few missed layups, a few defensive lapses...I tell the guys every possession is critical to a game," Carr said.
And just a few possessions decided Friday night's 82-71 loss at home against the Matoaca Warriors, a win that could have gone to either team until the last thirty seconds of the game.
Both teams rocketed into the first quarter with an offensive accuracy, matching buckets for bucket. Cory Hill exploded with 11 points and three three-pointers in the first eight minutes for the Royals, giving them a 23-22 lead by the end of the first quarter.
The Warriors didn't concede, bouncing back to gain a five point lead going into halftime.
"I told the guys at half whoever makes defensive stops and stances is going to win this game. Right out of the half, we made a couple of buckets and got back into it, gained a lead and gave our guys some confidence," Carr said.
Savonte Chappell bowled through the defense grabbing a quick three-point play, and then forced a Matoaca travel which allowed for Brian Fullman to tie it up with a clean basket.
Chappell and Devin Rose took Carr's words to heart, leaping high into the air and each forcing audible blocks in the third quarter, defensive stops that sent the Prince George crowd into a quaking uproar.
However, despite the efforts displayed by the Royals' defense, it just wasn't enough to stop an isolated Matoaca offensive firepower of three that didn't seem to miss shots no matter where they were taken from.
Of Matoaca's 81 points in the win, only five players put points on the board, with only three of those players accounting for 71 points.
Devin Morgan proved to be an irremovable thorn in Prince George's side, continuously sinking baskets even when the Royals took extensive defensive efforts to shut him down.
"[Morgan] caught fire in the third quarter, and I kept going 'Who's going to step up and guard him and make a defensive stop?' And I threw a couple guys at him and he just kept making buckets," Carr said. "I give credit to my guys. We played good defense on [Morgan], and whatever he threw up, it was going in."
Morgan finished with 32 points for the Warriors, 18 of those points earned through shots beyond the arc.
Following Morgan's lead, Khalil Coleman had 23 points and Trevion Armstrong put up 16.
In comparison, eight Royals contributed to their final 72 points, with six players earning five or more points. Prince George seemed to demonstrate a greater presence of roster depth than Matoaca, however this wasn't enough to overpower the effectiveness of Matoaca's offensive threesome.
Chappell lead the Royals with 19 points and at least 10 rebounds followed by Hill and Fullman who each scored 14 points in the loss.
Carr commended the depth of his team, taking pride in the ability to pull from several players when he needs someone to fulfill a specific role, a versatile advantage that he said can be a powerful tool for victory.
"We have confidence. We know we can play with anybody in this area. We've just been falling short here recently. It's frustrating because we feel we deserve to win, and the score just doesn't say that," Carr said.
Half of Prince George's losses have been determined by five points or less, with Friday night's nine-point deficit being a misleading representation of the close competition of the contest.
For Carr, his team just needs to harness an aggressive, more efficient style of play for an extra five minutes to turn their record into a more indicative symbol of the hard work they exude in practice and during games.
"We've got the guys, they're hungry, they're very hungry right now, and all the guys want to come together for a victory. It's coming. It's coming around," Carr said.
Prince George will travel to Colonial Heights on Tuesday.