- Last Updated on Wednesday, 05 January 2011 16:28
- Published on Wednesday, 05 January 2011 16:28
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After a strong performance against two highly rated Southern Maryland basketball teams (McDonough, La Plata) and winning the third annual King George Boys’ Winter Basketball Classic, the Foxes rested well over the New Year’s holiday.
“The turn around we’ve had lately has been a pleasure to see,” said Josh Luzier, King George High School boys’ varsity basketball head coach. “The first three games we’ve played, we played great the first three quarters, but crumbled in the fourth. The last two games we’ve played we doubled up our points that we normally score in the fourth quarter — we’re becoming that team that finally has that killer instinct that can close. If we can close with a lead then we will that much better, because right now we’re holding our own to get back. The determination that our kids have now is leaps and bound over what it was.”
The marquee between the Foxes (4-3) and La Plata Warriors (7-2) went down to the final seconds of the game, with fans on both sides of the King George gymnasium screaming their hearts out. The two-day tournament gave fans a glimpse into the basketball leagues associated with Southern Maryland, and reunion of sorts as former Fox coach Eric Davis returned to his high school alma mater as the head coach of the Riverbend Bears (1-8).
From the moment Davis and his assistant Frank Bennett entered the Foxes gym as Riverbend’s new head coach, the atmosphere was nothing short of electric. During the Davis era, the Foxes enjoyed a reign of success that included a record of 117-58, three regular season Battlefield District titles, three Battlefield District tournament championships, two Regional Championships, and a heartbreaking two-point lost to Blacksburg, in the Group AA Semi-final State Championships in 2002.
After jumpers by Trevon Walton and Joey Knoche, the Bears took an early 6-1 lead. However, with 1:48, the Warriors, led by Juan Wells, responded with a 7-2 run. The Warriors 8-7 lead was short-lived as the Bears fought back with Chet Carey scoring two foul shots and Elijah Brown finishing a fast break with a lay-up.
The second quarter the momentum took a drastic swing towards the Warriors. Point guard Jahmal Hill changed the pace of the game from up-tempo to all-out fast-paced by relentlessly pushing the ball up the court. Hill’s ball handling skills created scoring opportunities for the Bear forwards Nasir Akram and Jack Mister. Ryan Weems and Royce Hunsberger later contributed two lay-ups to extend the Warriors lead to 14-11.
Toward the latter half of the second quarter, the Bears rallied past the Warriors with a 9-5 run, with D’Angelo Washington scoring the final jump shot of the half.
In the third quarter, after the entry of power forward Josh Hill, the Warriors’ defense shut down the Bears’ offense. Hill’s defensive impact created numerous second and third shot scoring opportunities and a wave of Warrior steals, which culminated into a 15-1 lead.
In the final quarter, in spite of 4-0 Bear rally, courtesy of a lay-up by Washington and a 3-pointer by Ray Landrum, the Warriors sealed the win by going 4-4 at the foul line, two jumpers by Weems and Hill, and 3-pointer by Hunsberger. The Warriors defeated the Bears 59-45.
King George vs. McDonough
After losing to McDonough (7-2) in the first round of the Christmas tournament last year, the Foxes redeemed themselves with a 62-61 victory. In every aspect of the game, both teams were evenly matched. The fast-paced game was a chess match that ended in the final four seconds.
From the onset of the opening tip-off, the Rams through everything at the Foxes but the kitchen sink. After Ram forward Khari Best sunk a jumper to take a 4-2 lead, Kelsey Monroe drove between two Rams for a lay-up and moments later scored a jumper, tying the game at 6-6. With the score tied 11-11 and 1:06 left to play in the first quarter, the Foxes surged ahead on a 5-2 run.
In the second quarter, the Rams pulled ahead 19-16, with scores by Pablo Best and Christian Gray. With 5 and a half minutes left to play in the half, the Foxes responded with jumpers by Monroe and DJ Lewis, tying the game at 19-19. Devonte Gray countered with a lay-up and a put-back. Foxes forward Matt Mohr closed out the half with two lay-ups, cutting the Ram deficit to one.
In the third quarter, the lead and momentum swung back and forth, and eventually ended in a 40-40 tie.
In the final quarter, the Foxes cut through the Ram defense with a jumper by Mohr, Lewis lay-up and a Wyatt low post score. Moments later, with less than 4 minutes to play, Lewis pushed the Fox lead to 54-46 with a 3-pointer, assist to Wyatt and a lay-up, courtesy of a Wyatt assist.
With 2:01 left to play, the Rams were determined not to go away easily. After a Pablo Gray jumper and a fast break end-to-end parameter jumper, the Warriors were within striking distance as the once formidable Fox lead was cut to 55-52.
Combined with losing to Monroe to foul trouble and Gray scoring a 3-pointer, along with two foul shots, the Warriors suddenly found themselves back in the game with the score 61-58. However, with 5 seconds left to play, Gray managed to draw a 3-point foul, during a “Hail Mary” shot from beyond the perimeter.
With the Warrior fans on the edge of their seats and the Fox fans stomping their feet in hopes of distracting the star forward, Gray scored the first two shots, but failed on the third attempt, which would have sent the game into overtime. While Monroe led all Fox scoring with 22 points, including a 3-pointer, Mohr added 17 points, including a 3-pointer for the Foxes. Devonte Gray led all scoring for the Warriors with 23 points.
Riverbend vs. McDonough
During the consolation game featuring Riverbend and McDonough, basketball fans had another opportunity to see Davis lead his new team into action. Although the Bears were courageous in their efforts, the Rams narrowly defeated them, 49-48.
While the two recent holiday tournament losses did not blemish Davis’ legendary status among the top high school coaches in area basketball, he did take time to reflect on the reality of building a successful team.
“Right now we’re still learning how to play the game,” Davis said. “I loved the tournament, it was good for us, and it gave us a good opportunity to win a ball game. We’re struggling on basic fundamentals right now, but overall I think our team is improving, and in a little time we will become a good inspired team.”
Led by 6 foot 5 center Jamal Price, the Rams opened the first quarter with a 10-3 run. Price scored the opening basket and later penetrated the Bears’ low post to score a lay-up. Anthony Cheaves capped the run with an assist to Khari Best.
The Bears responded with 8-0 run that featured Elijah Brown going 2-2 at the foul line and a driving lay-up that cut the Ram lead to 11-10.
In the second quarter, the momentum continued to favor the Bears, as they tied the game at 15-15 with a jumper by Brown. Later in the quarter, Brown and Ray Landrum combined for 5 points to give the Bears their first lead, 20-16.
Behind by 5 points at the start of the third quarter, the Rams tied game (27-27) with back-to-back 3-pointers by Best and Pablo Gray. With 2:25 remaining in the quarter, Devonte Gray gave the Rams the lead with a jumper from the corner, which sparked a 6-2 Ram run, giving them a 35-30 lead to close out the quarter.
Although the Bears valiantly fought back to tie the score at 44-44, courtesy of three Landrum foul shots, that included a technical, the Rams behind a jumper and lay-up by Bess, and two foul shots by Devonte Gray, sustained their 49-48 win.
King George vs. La Plata
King George boys’ varsity basketball is hotter than ever! Fox forward Kelsey Monroe has proven to be a clutch shooter and a complete athlete in every respect. In the opening minutes of the tournament championship game, Monroe contributed two foul shots, and two fast break lay-ups to cap a Fox 6-2 run.
The Warriors responded with a 3-pointer by Royce Hunsberger and another 3-pointer by Augustine Adams to tie the game at 10-10, ending the first quarter.
At the start second quarter, DJ Lewis was on fire, as he scored three 3-pointers, and a jumper to give the Foxes a 22-15 lead. Not to be outdone, the Warriors rallied to retake the lead behind two jumpers, two foul shots and a dunk by Juan Wells. Hunsberger completed the Warrior scoring with a 3-point basket.
Lewis brought the crowd it their feet with a buzzer beating running 3-point jumper to close out the half and cut the Warrior lead to 4 points (29-25).
Since his entry into the varsity program, Lewis has been the heart and soul of Fox basketball and could potentially be the best all-around player in area basketball.
“Thanks in part to D.J. Lewis, from the two years that I’ve had with him, he has become an entirely differently player than was last year,” Luzier said. “Last year he was that scorer that we knew we always had, but this year I sat down with him and told him that he has to develop more facets of his game. His assists compared to last year have quadrupled, because he is involving other players. When he plays the defense gravitates to him, creating an easy dish off to other people. It’s nice to have people that are stepping up and willing to take that role.”
In the third quarter the Warriors punctuated a 45-37 lead with a dunk by Wells. After a technical foul against the Foxes, the Warriors extended their lead to 9 points.
For the first 3 minutes the Foxes defense shut down the Warriors high-powered offense. The Foxes capitalized on the Warrior dormant offense by executing eight scoring opportunities that featured a 3-point basket by Matt Mohr.
Later in the quarter with the Foxes precariously holding on to a 58-55 lead and 1:01 remaining to play, King George sealed the Warriors’ fate as Mohr’s steal transitioned into a lay-up. With seconds remaining on the clock, Wayne Wyatt concluded the Foxes’ final points with two foul shots.
The Foxes junior varsity and varsity boys’ basketball teams will travel to Washington & Lee Wednesday and Saturday — game time is 6 p.m. The entire boys’ basketball program, including the freshmen team will travel to Courtland on Saturday — game time is 4:30 p.m. Results of the Eastern View game on Tuesday were not available.
In addition, results of the girls’ varsity holiday basketball games were not sent in for publishing. Parents, please encourage the coaches of your sports programs to send in their results.