Hopewell Drops Second-Straight
By Blake Belden, staff writer
Feb 6, 2014, 17:05
Blake Belden/The Hopewell News/News-Patriot
Despite being down for the majority of the contest on Wednesday night, the Hopewell Blue Devils played with a relentless energy and visible intensity against Meadowbrook, keeping the game within a reasonable margin for victory until about 15 seconds left in the final quarter.
After trailing by at least 15 points, the Blue Devils surged back in the closing minutes with a series of possessions like Tabyus Taylor barging through the paint to connect off the glass or Daniel Saunders scoring off an athletically coordinated fast break, exhibitions that kept the team in the game.
But, in light of these aggressive efforts, a set of Meadowbrook foul shots following a controversial technical foul on head coach Robbie St. John shut the window, and Hopewell fell short 78-66 against the Monarchs, a loss that St. John ultimately felt was due to a lack of rebounds.
Although St. John admits he was disappointed by the "ridiculous" technical foul, for verbally disputing a non-call by the referees when six Monarchs were in the game, he said that if they had grabbed more rebounds, increased percentages from the field and line and made other improvements, " it...shouldn't have had to come down to that."
The Blue Devils have now gone 13 for 25 from the free throw line in the last two games, a trend that St. John says needs to be reversed in a big way.
It didn't help that Hopewell's leading rebounder, Darrell Taylor, was airlifted to the Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center after sustaining a head injury during a shoot around prior to the game. He had been averaging eight rebounds per game, to go along with 14 points per game.
St. John said he was glad to hear that Darrell had been sent home from the hospital on Wednesday evening, but it would remain to be seen when he could return to the court due to certain recovery protocol.
With Darrell sidelined indefinitely, St. John is looking for the bench to continue to produce more efficiently, something that has already been seen from Malik Monds, who put up 13 points in the loss.
Eight Blue Devils put points on the scoreboard, led by Tabyus with 17, followed by Saunders and Monds with 13 each.
Coming off an emotional loss to Petersburg on Tuesday, combined with the loss of Darrell and a messed up practice schedule due to recent school closings, the Blue Devils were weighed down by a number of factors going into Wednesday's game.
"I think our guys are emotionally spent...It's already been a long week," St. John said.
However, having lost to the Monarchs by 19 points earlier this season, in a game that was nowhere as close as Wednesday night's matchup, St. John emphasized noticeable improvement, commending his team's refusal to quit under any circumstances.
"They won't [give up]. And that says a lot about them, some of our guys didn't have the nights that they normally have, but they still played hard. That, in itself, says something," St. John said.
As the season continues, with a match against Dinwiddie on Friday and a game at home against Matoaca on Tuesday, St. John hopes to see continued production from the bench and plans to push the team hard in practice so that the Blue Devils will give future opponents everything they have got.