Royals Remain Confident
By Ryan Lazo, sports editor
Jan 23, 2014, 23:08
Ryan Lazo/Hopewell News/News-Patriot
PRINCE GEORGE — It hasn't been the type of season Prince George head coach Travis Carr expected out of his team. Prior to the season's opening-tip, he knew he had one of the most talented teams in the old Central District, but even he did not foresee the type of chemistry struggles which have since ensued.
While the Royals have each showcased their individual talents at times this season, team-wide efforts have been more difficult to come by. For stretches this season, it seemed when the Prince George offense was clicking, the defense faltered and vice versa.
However, as the Royals' season steams toward its conclusion, they see a chance for redemption on the horizon. Even though the team will have to wait another week for their third match-up with Petersburg — the game has been rescheduled for Feb. 1 — they are looking toward the game as a chance to prove their worth.
Why is that?
Because the team's have split the two previous games with the Crimson Wave narrowly edging Prince George during the Fort Lee Holiday Tournament. The loss is still in the back of the' players' minds, but more so is the confidence they have after securing the win over the Crimson Wave earlier this season.
"For the first time in recent years, we actually feel really good and confident going into any match-up with Petersburg," Carr explained. "I think with a mind-set like that to know you are capable of beating those guys at anytime or anyplace, you can only get good results."
And it may possibly be the type of win which could send the Royals to a strong finish. In fact, Prince George has plenty of reasons to be confident heading into another match-up with the Crimson Wave.
The Royals are one of the few teams who can match Petersburg's athleticism in the open court and actually have the advantage in terms of height and physicality in the low-blocks. Savonte Chappell is the Royals' focal point of the offense and he had his way against Petersburg at Fort Lee, scoring a team-high 17 points while showing emotion not normally seen from the reserved sophomore.
In addition, Quincy Cunningham — although hampered by an ankle injury — can still change momentum with ferocious dunks in transition while Corey Hill can answer Petersburg's outside shooting with long-range attempts of his own.
"We knew we could match them athletically before the season started," Carr said. "As long as you have the mind-set that, 'hey, we can run with these guys,' and we've proved that we can, that's going to pay big dividends for us."
Also going the in Royals' favor is the way Carr's teams tend to play up to their opponents in big games, although it has also been puzzling for the Royals as they have struggled against other teams.
Prince George battled Petersburg to a four-point loss and a one-point win this season and in a crosstown battle against Hopewell last week, the Royals fell by just eight-points. However, the Royals also saw themselves hitting the alarm button after entering halftime trailing to Colonial Heights last week before pulling away in the second.
It's an aspect Carr hopes to be cleaned up soon.
Ryan Lazo/Hopewell News/News-Patriot
"In a way it's a good thing. I'm glad they get up for the bigger match-ups and the bigger games and jerseys," Carr said. "But they have to come and play every game. I can give them a pre-game speech that motivates them, but if they don't go out there and motivate themselves, they're not going to get the result they want."
However, Carr has seen a change in his Prince George squad.
The team which had struggled with chemistry issues due to transfers and junior varsity call-ups are becoming closer. A team trip to the Washington Wizards game on Martin Luther King Day only reinvigorated the camaraderie the team is showing, bringing with it more promise for future games.
"That first game against Manchester feels like ages ago and I think we've come a long way since then," Carr said. "We just took a team-bonding trip to the Wizards game ... we're molding together. We had to come together as a team and I wish we came together sooner, but I think we're coming around at the right time."
With just seven games remaining, Prince George has the opportunity to showcase their chemistry on the court and finish the season strong, helping to set themselves up for a successful conference tournament run.