Prince George's Season Ends In Regionals
By Ryan Lazo, sports editor
Feb 25, 2014, 21:48
Ryan Lazo/Hopewell News/News-Patriot
HENRICO — Prince George knew what was in front of them in their Regional Quarterfinal match-up against Henrico. They knew the Warriors were defending champions and had a talented young core with three double-digit scorers.
They also knew Henrico was the No. 12 ranked team in the state for a reason. Yet, they also knew the type of ability they had as well and were looking to pull off a few more upsets on the way to playing in the Siegal Center.
And after a first quarter where the Royals played solid on the offensive side of the ball and struggled mightily defensively, they looked up at the scoreboard and saw a 14-point deficit to overcome. After falling behind by 17 points with 1:29 remaining in the first half, Prince George's B.J. Knight nailed a 3-pointer to jump-start a quick 5-0 spurt.
Cory Hill had a chance to extend the run with 13.3 remaining on the clock when he was fouled and went to the line for a 1-and-1 opportunity where he missed the front-end and it resulted in a five-point swing as De'Monte Buckingham connected on a corner 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded.
It would be that type of game for the Royals as one step forward was answered immediately by two or three steps back from Henrico, leading to a 97-54 loss at Hermitage High School.
"When I saw them on film, I think it was Sunday on the NBA special," Prince George head coach Travis Carr said after the game. "We knew they could score and that they were going to pressure us the entire game ... they pressured us the whole 32 minutes and I told our guys that we have to deal with it and let's try to capitalize on some mistakes."
The Royals (9-19) were able to do just that consistently through a first half in which they shot a blistering 48.3 percent from the field. However, Prince George's problems could be zeroed in on the defensive side of the ball as Henrico (20-5) shot 51.5 percent for the game and had a 9-of-21 effort from beyond the arc.
Although even with the defensive struggles, Prince George had the look of a team ready to cut into another halftime deficit — much like they did against Meadowbrook — as Quincy Cunningham bookended a 6-0 run with a tip-in and a dunk to pull his team within 14 points of Henrico.
However, over the next 3:17 of game-action, the Warriors would execute a 15-0 run on the strength of six points from Buckingham — he finished with a game-high 22 points on 9-of-15 shooting — and two treys to jump-out to a 70-41 lead.
It was the final back-breaker for a team which had been forced to climb from behind all season and had little left in the tank for one final push.
"We make a run and that's great, but you can't give up a run by them," Carr said. "That kind of was the game right there ... but we aren't going to settle by just being here. We were looking to win this game and move on ... we know what we're capable of."
Ryan Lazo/Hopewell News/News-Patriot
And Carr's team showed some flashes of the type of team they can be during moments of the game.
Senior Brian Fullman stepped up in his final game as a Prince George player scoring 14 points — five of those in the first quarter — on a 6-of-13 shooting effort while also grabbing eight rebounds. Fullman showed off his mid-range game and ability to finish in traffic underneath, helping the Royals stay alive early.
Savonte Chappell finished the game a perfect 4-of-4 from the field for 10 points while hauling in five rebounds as he elevated his game against the most talented team the Royals played all season. In fact, if Prince George would have been able to make more entry passes into the post for Chappell, the game could have had a different outcome.
"The good players rise to the occasion," Carr said. "Even as a sophomore, rise to the occasion — they did. These kids haven't been on this stage. Hopefully, they will learn from this experience and take the taste of losing in a playoff game and fuel them into next year."
Prince George can look back at their biggest loss of the season and circle one particular stat as a main reason why they did not advance in Regionals action. The Royals committed 24 turnovers which directly resulted in 38 points for Henrico.
In addition, the Royals lost the rebounding battle by a 48-to-39 margin and points in the paint, 44-to-22. But the ugly loss doesn't take away what this Royals' team accomplished this season.
"According to others, our season should have ended last Tuesday," Carr said alluding to wins over Manchester and No. 1 seeded Meadowbrook. "It gave us more practice time, more experience and that's only going to make our younger players better."
With just four seniors on the roster, Prince George's young and talented core will be back next season aiming to take full advantage of their capabilities and challenge the likes of Henrico once again.