Prince George Stuns Meadowbrook
By Blake Belden, staff writer
Feb 20, 2014, 14:19
Blake Belden/Hopewell News/ News Patriot
For most high school basketball teams, being down by 14 points to a higher ranked team in the second half of a playoff game looks like a downhill road to the end of the season.
But for the Prince George Royals' varsity boys, this was just a last-minute call for increased sweat and intensity on the floor at all costs.
Fueled by a pair of three pointers and an energetic slam dunk from Quincy Cunningham in the fourth quarter, the Royals staged a momentous comeback to defeat the Meadowbrook Monarchs 57-54 to face L.C. Bird in the Conference 12 Championship game on Friday, as well as earn an automatic bid in the upcoming regional tournament next week.
This is the first time in 10 years that Prince George has reached the finals.
Royals' head coach Travis Carr expressed deep pride for his players, who give it everything they have got every night on the hardwood.
"I give all credit to this team. A 'never die' attitude is what they have, and that comes from all 15 guys on that bench. From the guys who maybe play one minute [to] the starters. They believe in each other. It's more about them than anything. I'm so glad to be their coach right now," Carr said.
Having only won six games coming into the playoffs, Wednesday night's upset came just one night after a stunning playoff victory over Manchester, another game where they surged back from a double digit deficit to take the lead.
Prince George marked the first half with many mistakes, failing to capitalize on forced turnovers, having trouble beating Meadowbrook to rebounds and often turning the ball over themselves.
"We didn't have a good first half. We had too many turnovers. We didn't take care of the ball. I made a point of that at half time...We stepped it up on defense in the fourth quarter with man-to-man, and all of a sudden a couple [forced] turnovers here, a couple of made shots and we're back in it," Carr said.
The Royals not only outscored the Monarchs by 15 points in the fourth quarter, aided by a composed 10 for 12 from the free throw line and a 10-0 run, but they held Meadowbrook to a mere five points and only two field goals.
"To maybe the fans, it looks like they're tired, but for some reason they have these sparks of energy where I don't know where they got them from. And, you know, being down by 10 or 12 points, you almost want to say that the team loses energy, but not these guys," Carr said.
With just under three minutes left in the game, Cunningham nailed a shot from beyond the arc, followed shortly after by a strong, offensive put back effort from Chappell sending him to the line and making a pair to get within six points.
Cunningham answered again with another stab from the three point line to push the score to 53-50. As Daquan Coleman brought the ball down the court for Meadowbrook, Chazz Jenkins saw his opportunity, snatching the ball from Coleman's hands and bulleting down the floor for a fast break layup and a one point deficit.
The Royals kept the Monarchs from scoring once again, and Jenkins returned by barreling into the paint, scoring both foul shots and earning Prince George's first lead of the night at 54-53.
Three more foul shots bumped the lead up to 57-54, and the matchup wasn't over until a Meadowbrook desperation three point attempt missed the basket before the buzzer sounded, allowing for fans to finally unglue their sweaty palms from the bleachers.
It didn't help Meadowbrook's efforts that they had trouble from the charity stripe, shooting under 60 percent and failing to capitalize nine times from the free throw line, where Prince George had a better time grabbing freebies sinking over 70 percent from the line.
Blake Belden/The Hopewell News/News-Patriot
In a game where every basket could have determined the outcome, the fact that no Royal scored more than 12 points in the upset speaks volumes to the level of depth and tenacity from the entire Prince George roster.
Savonte Chappell led the way with 12 points, followed by Brian Fullman and Cunningham, who scored all of his points in the fourth quarter, with 11 points each. Eight Royals added to the final score compared to six Monarchs led by Brandon Cheeks with 18 points and Khylil James with 16 points.
"We've got to take our momentum from this gym. Right now, we wish this was our home gym...That's how good we're playing, and we've got to come in and take the momentum from these past two nights and play a good ball game, put it all together on Friday night [against L.C. Bird]," Carr said.
Prince George is riding a three game win streak as they break down expectations and stroll into the championship game.