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

Hopewell's Solid Third Quarter Drops Royals
By Ryan Lazo, sports editor
Jan 17, 2014, 22:17

Ryan Lazo/Hopewell News/News-Patriot
PRINCE GEORGE In a first half featuring five lead changes, Hopewell had begun to take control with an 8-0 run, taking an eight-point lead with just 1:26 remaining. However, Prince George would not let the game get out of hand and responded with seven-straight points, ending with a Savonte Chappell jump-shot as time expired.

All it took was 61 seconds for Hopewell to lose all the momentum they worked for as they entered the locker room with a one-point lead and faced a Royals' team confident in their abilities after a second-quarter flurry.

But just 48 hours after having a dismal second-quarter cost them a game at Thomas Dale, the Blue Devils came out of the intermission on fire, capitalizing on an 8-2 run to take a lead they would not relinquish in a 69-61victory.

"It seems like all season we've been in that situation and I felt like we had all momentum going into half right until the last play," Hopewell head coach Robbie St. John said after just his team's second win in its past five games. "I just told them in the locker room that we had to make a decision as to whether or not we are better the team and two, if we were going to go out and take the victory that was supposed to be ours."

The Blue Devils (7-9) took their coach's advice and went on two separate runs in the third quarter which allowed them to take all momentum from the Royals. In fact, it was Hopewell's ability to answer Prince George's (4-10) every run which highlighted the improved mental state of the team.

While the Royals' Cedric Wright's clutch 3-pointer cut the Hopewell lead to just four points 40-36 Daniel Saunders jump-started a Blue Devils' run off a cut to the basket ending in a lay-in for two of his game-high 18 points. His bucket was immediately followed by a Darrell Taylor spin move in the post for another basket and capped off by an Isaiah Fernandez jump-shot from the top of the key.

However, even after a dominating third-quarter, questions still lingered if this Hopewell squad could remain ahead and not squander another lead in the final frame. But all the worries were slammed down onto the hardwood after Taylor rose for a two-handed jam before blocking a shot on the defensive end to spring Tabyus Taylor for a basket plus a foul.

It was the jolt the Blue Devils needed to leave no doubt as the 7-0 run opened up a 57-43 lead with just six minutes remaining in the game.

"I still think there were a couple of times where it looked like we panicked a little at the end," St. John explained. "But I think we got the stops we needed too."
Ryan Lazo/Hopewell News/News-Patriot

And it may have been Hopewell's defensive effort which won them the game after their team-wide effort on Chappell.

Prince George's rugged forward is the focal point of the offense and the Blue Devils utilized multiple defensive looks to stop his ability to front in the low-post. Chappell rarely received touches in the paint, but on the few he did, he showed how he can impact a game with 13 points on the night.

"We worked to front the post and of course he's really good at preventing you from doing that," St. John said of Chappell. "But we also did a lot of pinching in, and did it from different angles ... for the most part he didn't get anything easy tonight."

However, while the defense provided the key push for the win, the Blue Devils received a huge scoring boost from Fernandez. The junior guard is rarely aggressive on the offensive end, but with the Royals' guards playing off of him while defending the pass, Fernandez took advantage.

The 5-foot-11 guard fired up long-range jump-shots and deftly slide by defenders for acrobatic runners en route to a season-high 14 points. Yet, that would be just part of the story.
Ryan Lazo/Hopewell News/News-Patriot

Fernandez also recorded upwards of seven assists while also picking Prince George's pockets for four steals on the night, impacting the game in every category.

"I think the scouting report on him because he's such an unselfish player and knows his role is to give him a step," St. John said. "We were waiting for the game for when Isaiah would take some opportunities and I don't think he forced anything, but he definitely took those chances tonight."

And it was Fernandez's ability to score which opened up the driving lanes for his teammates as Tabyus Taylor dropped in 18 points and Darrell Taylor scored 12 points in his most dominant showing all season long.

In fact, the 6-foot-4 Taylor was a different player after his two-handed slam in transition, dominating play on both the defensive end he recorded four blocks on the night and the offensive end.

The win against Prince George provided Hopewell with all the elements they will need to win the rest of the way with a team-wide effort on doing whatever it took to capture victory. If the mentality sticks around, the Blue Devils should experience more success, making second-half collapses a thing of the past.

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