Last Updated: Apr 27th, 2015 - 11:04:56

Prince George Remains Unbeaten
By David Breidenbach, Correspondent
Jan 15, 2014, 08:07

David Breidenbach/Hopewell News/News-Patriot
PRINCE GEORGE—The Royals played their bench through most of their 77-27 victory over Colonial Heights Tuesday night, providing key playing time for the reserves as they head into the second half of the season.

The game was pretty much decided in the first two minutes when the Royals raced to a 15-0 start. As one might suspect, Ariel Stephenson had much to say about the early start, canning nine of her game high 23 points in the early run. Jo Jo Taylor chunked in the other six, finishing the night with 10 points in limited shooting.

A huge talent gap between the teams made it difficult for the Colonials, who took the better part of three quarters to break the double digit mark in scoring. As the Royals proceeded to sub in their backup players, the Colonials were able to surge in the final quarter. They more than doubled their score in the final eight minutes, mostly from Nicole Blankenship in the low post, who led the team with 8 points.

“It’s tough to play when you are against a team that isn’t as strong as yours is. The bench got a whole lot of time. Some of our kids didn’t get to play as much as they are used to playing,” Royals Coach Billy Gray said.

The Royals are in the midst of a banner season, ripping off 14 straight wins. Just looking at the wins, it’s easy to point to Prince George’s all everything player Stephenson, who has committed to play college ball at Wake Forest. But in truth, it’s not just about Stephenson’s play.

Gray said that his starting five are the best team he has ever fielded. And, to make things better for them and worse for other teams, they have significant depth in their bench players. Tuesday night, the bench played a lot and Gray often swapped out all five players on the floor.

“If you put a lot of attention on any of one our kids there’s going to be another one who steps up. That’s one of the good things about our team this year, we can go to the bench two or three times and it doesn’t hurt us. And they are all good kids; it’s a great bunch of kids,” Gray said.
David Breidenbach/Hopewell News/News-Patriot

And it showed in this game. Taylor backed up Stephenson in the early going, and Markia Smith pumped in 12 points, including a three. After scoring 15 points in the first quarter, Stephenson slowed her pace while she and Taylor looked to feed the other players. Stephenson added five points in the final quarter while Taylor chose not to score in the second half, opting instead to pass to other players in scoring position.

As a result of the all-around play, the Royals find themselves sitting pretty with an unblemished record. Under the old Central District, the Royals would be in first place by one game.

“We have had lots and lots of teams that try a box and one on Ariel and the other players pick up the slack,” Gray said.

COLONIAL HEIGHTS (n/r) — Haynes 0, Schoot 0, Harris 0, Blankenship 8, Musselwhite 0, Banty 4, Nowland 5, Groover 4, Dycus 2, Rodgers 2, Moore 2. Totals 11 4-11 27.
PRINCE GEORGE (14-0) — Taylor 10, Bowen 7, Anderson 4, Stephenson 23, Irving 3, Washington 6, Gardner 7, Mitchell 2, Smith 12, Borthalow 3, Brown 0. Totals 33 3-11 77.
Colonial Heights 3 4 6 14 – 27
Prince George 29 23 9 16 - 77

3-point goals — CH: Nowland; PG: Stephenson 3, Washington 2, Gardner, Smith, Borthalow.

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