‘Ball final bounces our way’
Despite finishing the regular season in fourth place, the Northumberland Indians beat the first and third seeded teams to take the Northern Neck District basketball tournament and advance to Region A play.
The Indians opened playoff action on Wednesday by dominating regular season champion Colonial Beach, 67-48. On Friday, they stopped Essex 50-49 when Keith Bryant swatted away a last-second Trojan shot for the win.
In Wednesday’s opening game, the Essex Trojans surprised the Lancaster Red Devils in an upset, 50-45. Essex took advantage of missed scoring opportunities by Lancaster and slowed down the game to a tempo that favored their style of play. The Trojans opened with a one-point lead, 8-7, in the first period and never trailed. Lancaster was led by Taj Smith with 13, Tyler Colding had 12, Trevon Taylor scored 10, Tykwon Redmond and Javonte Smith both had four and Devonte Stewart two.
For Essex, Alonzo Tomkins scored twelve, Keith Bundy ten, Larry HilI seven, Alex Balderson six, Sterling Hammond five, Dejour Ashlock and C.J. Jones four each and Raheim Rolling two.
With four of the Northern Neck District’s top ten three-pointers on the Colonial Beach Drifters, Northumberland’s Coach Michael Stevenson realized he had to come up with a defense that would slow them down.
The “Wizard of the Hardwood” did just that.
“We did something special,” said Stevenson. “We didn’t trap at all, we played them honest and got in their face on every shot.”
According to Stevenson, the Indians’ 1-3-1 defense “forced [the Drifters] to take shots two to three feet past the arc (the three-point line).
“Our defense bothered them and they didn’t hit the shots they normally make,” Stevenson went on.
On Wednesday, the Indians’ dominance at the end of the first period with a 17-3 lead developed into a 36-14 statement by halftime.
In the second half of the game, the Drifters mounted an offensive charge but never managed to threaten for the lead.
Northumberland’s most prominent three pointer of the night was Wesley Jackson, who hit four “treys” on his way to a career-high thirty-point night. Keith Bryant had twelve and Aaron Lewis joined Jackson in double figures with ten. Hakeem Shabazz scored five, Kyle Elmore four with Tevin Carter and Collin Donovan and Dorian Morris each scored two.
Jackson’s long-range attack opened the middle for Bryant to have a good evening. Bryant had a ‘double-double” with 14 rebounds, Lewis had eight and Jackson seven. Elmore had seven assists while Lewis had three. He and Jackson added six steals. Bryant blocked two shots.
The Drifters were led by Montie Gould and Parrish Muse with 13 points each, while Keane Foster had ten.
The championship game, which was competitive through-and-through, kicked off with the Indians holding a narrow 11-10 lead after the first period.
But Essex stormed into 25-18 point before both teams headed to the locker room. “We really had a hard time in the first half,” said Stevenson. “It was frustrating…we came to focus on defense…and the offense would take care of itself.”
Opening the second half, the Indians “came out man-to-man and the kids played really hard” according to Stevenson.
The Indians cut the Trojans’ lead to three by the conclusion of the third quarter. The game came down to the last seconds with Essex in control of the ball, taking the last shot for the win.
Keith Bryant had already blocked two shots and the final would be the game winner as he blasted the ball away with time running out.
Jackson led the Indians with 16 points. Bryant had 11, Lewis 10, Elmore seven and Morris six. Bryant also added 11 rebounds, Morris had nine and Lewis seven. Elmore had six assists and Lewis had three. Lewis had seven steals while Elmore had three.
Ladies battle injuries to win
After losing the regular season title in a 51-46 playoff loss in a playoff Monday game to Lancaster, the Lady Indians of Northumberland rebounded by winning the Northern Neck District Tournament, 45-42 over the Lady Red Devils on Friday.
Both will advance to Region play early this week.
In the game preceding the decisive game in the tournament, the Indians bypassed third seed Colonial Beach, 45-39 while Lancaster advanced with a 56-50 win over Essex.
In Monday’s playoff game, the two teams battled fiercely in a game that saw eight ties. Lancaster took a one-point lead in the first quarter, but the Lady Indians soared to the point, 22-17 at halftime.
Following the start of the second half, the two teams scrapped back and forth with the lead trading hands until a 30-30 score marked the end of the third stanza. The Lady Red Devils’ reliance on their inside game puzzled the Indians, according to Northumberland’s Coach Lewis Howard.
“Turnovers and missed free throws…killed us,” said Howard.
The Red Devils were led by Sharda Beane with 16 points and Anesha White with 10. Trenae Henderson had 8, Aleyah Davenport had 7, Shamerah Taylor had 6, and Arkasia Sutton three.
The Indian’s Tylisha Crockett was the game’s leading scorer with 17, Nia Jones scored 15, Katie Crowther 6, Justice Gordon 4; Mary Katherine Hall, Shirleya Henry and Rajaa Shabazz all had two and Emya Seldon one. Nia Jones had six steals. Hall and Gordon had eight rebounds each, Crowther four and Seldon three with Crockett and Shabazz picking off two each.
In the first round of the district tournament, the Indians faced Colonial Beach after splitting wins with them during the regular season behind some dazzling three-point shooting.
The Drifters opened with a 7-6 first quarter lead, yet Northumberland battled back to take a 22-21 intermission lead.
“We came out a little flat in the beginning,” Coach Howard said, noting that the defense picked up in the second half” to increase the lead to 33-30 by the third quarter’s end with the Indians outlasting Colonial Beach for a six-point win, 45-39.
Crockett was on fire with four “treys” on the way to a game-high 18 points. Jones added 11 points and eight steals. Shabazz scored five; Hall and Seldon four each; Gordon and Henry two a piece. Gordon led the Indian rebounders with ten, Hall added eight, Jones four and Shabazz three.
Caneisha Fulcher led the Drifters with 11, Billie Gould scored eight, Karly Inscoe seven, McKenzie Conway six, Denya Newman four and Emily Parks three.
In the second game, Lancaster got by a determined Essex squad, 56-50. The Lady Red Devils took a 27-15 halftime advantage into the locker room. The Lady Trojans battled back in the second half to cut the lead to five points by third quarter’s end only to fall by six points at the buzzer.
Lancaster was led by Shemarah Taylor’s 23 points as she topped the 1,000 point total for her career that evening. Beane scored 12, Davenport had 11, Aaliyah Morris-Lee had eight and Sutton three. The Lady Trojans were led by Zenya Butler with 23 and Jaeleh Rivers with eight.
Friday’s final pitted the top two seeds, the Lancaster Lady Red Devils and the Northumberland Lady Indians, against one another for the tournament title. The Lady Indians took an early lead of 9- 7 at the end of the first eight minutes of play. At halftime, they grew the lead to a 20-14 margin.
But the game was far from over as Lancaster mounted a fierce offensive that cut the Indians lead to five by the third quarter’s conclusion.
However, Northumberland held onto the lead by a mere three points when the clock for the fourth quarter reached zero.
“Turnovers again,” said Howard. But the Lady Indians nullified Lancaster’s inside height advantage. Mary Katherine Hall and Justice Gordon were effective under both boards.
“Good defense on the inside,” was the game plan according to Howard. “Good defensive rebounding.”
Gordon and Hall each grabbed 5 rebounds while Shabazz added eight.
Nia Jones was the game’s top scorer with 22 individual points. Shabazz scored eight, Hall five, Gordon four and Crockett and Henry three each.
Taylor led the Lady Red Devils with 14, Beane 11, Sutton five, Morris-Lee, Raven Love and White each with four and Henderson with two.