Rust Shows As Prince George Falls To Petersburg
By Ryan Lazo, sports editor
Feb 1, 2014, 22:10
Ryan Lazo/Hopewell News/News-Patriot
PETERSBURG — Prince George's players and coaching staff anxiously awaited this game. Through multiple cancellations, the feelings never wavered. The Royals wanted another chance to prove they can not only compete with Petersburg, but defeat them.
After all, through two games between the rivals this season, each school had captured one win. Both games came down to the final moments with the Royals holding on for a one-point win at home and the Crimson Wave making a few clutch plays in the final moments to advance to the finals at the Fort Lee Holiday Tournament.
Yet, after just 3:35 of game-action, it became apparent the third and final meeting would not match the high-drama of the previous two. Petersburg opened up the game in a 3-2 zone which frustrated the Royals' offensively.
Meanwhile, the Crimson Wave's Resean Bolton opened up the scoring with a mid-range jumper before Kaimonne' Douglas drilled a long 3-pointer as Petersburg opened the game on a 9-2 run, swinging momentum entirely in their favor during the 85-50 rout of Prince George.
"We're not a team and I'm not a coach who is going to make excuses for anything," Royals head coach Travis Carr said after his team's largest margin of defeat this season. "Mentally and possibly even physically after having so many days off from school, it does set in. We've had one practice in the last two weeks, but again that's not an excuse. They're basketball players. They have to come out here and make basketball plays."
However, the Royals struggled with making the simplest of basketball plays all night long, exhibiting the type of mental rust which is deadly against Petersburg.
The Crimson Wave took advantage of the Royals from the opening tip, using penetrations to the basket to create open shots for teammates. It almost became too easy at times for Gemonta Jackson to take a Royals' guard one-on-one, rush past him and have the entire defense collapse in the middle while he decided which teammate to hit for an open jump-shot.
And that type of languished effort continued to affect Prince George on the glass, in the paint, when facing full-court pressure and even defending screens. Numerous times a simple screen would allow Petersburg warm-up 3-pointers.
In fact, as the Royals started to gain some footing after Brian Fullman's two consecutive 3-pointers followed by a Chazz Jenkins runner, it was Douglas who used a mental lapse to his advantage. Calling for a screen at the left of the key, Douglas pulled right and Fullman did not come out to challenge him while Cory Hill was picked off.
Douglas rose and nailed a 3-pointer for three of his game-high 25 points to end the first half of play, putting the Crimson Wave up 42-29 and leaving Carr to wonder why his team was slow to react.
"I felt like we a step behind," Carr said of his defense. "They did a good job screening to get wide-open shots. We tried to get a hand up on them, but I give them credit for making the shots when they had an opportunity to do it."
However, while Carr gave credit to the Crimson Wave players for executing, he bemoaned his team's inability to take away Petersburg's top scoring threats. The trio of Aundrey Fitzgerald, Gemonta Jackson and Douglas combined for 51 points — one more than the entire Royals team.
"It's frustrating because it's not like we don't know who those guys are," Carr said incredulously. "In pregame talk, we specifically point out their shooters ... plus these kids know each other, so it's not a surprise. They know who can shoot and who can't."
Yet, even with all of the missed assignments and lack of focus at times in their first action against a live opponent in 15 days, there were some bright spots for the Royals.
Savonte Chappell again showed why he is quickly becoming one of the better post players in the old Central District. The 6-foot-5 forward showed off his strength to fight off multiple defenders to score the tough baskets on a 13-point night.
Ryan Lazo/Hopewell News/News-Patriot
His counterpart, Fullman, also showed off an array of moves before fouling out halfway through the fourth quarter. The 6-foot-4 forward showed off his range by nailing two 3-pointers while also showing physicality underneath on a 12-point night.
But even more promising for Prince George was the sight of a healthy Quincy Cunningham. The shooting guard dropped in 6 points for the game, but his two-handed slam showed he has regained the lift which was missing because of his high-ankle sprain. Additionally, a lopsided loss may be just the thing to awaken the Royals as they enter a stretch of six games in 10 days.
"After the meeting we just had in the locker room, I think some of the players are motivated and they actually learned and took something from this," Carr said. "We don't settle for this ... We're not going to be happy with it."
Whether the Royals players and coaches will be happy after the upcoming 10-day span depends on how well they apply the lessons they learned in their loss to Petersburg in their next six games.
It will be the difference between a locker room riding high with confidence or one with dejected faces and slumped shoulders following another tough stretch.