Hopewell powers past Springers
Blue Devils Boys Basketball wins 66-57
HOPEWELL – The Blue Devils (2-0) survived an early eight-point salvo from Highland Springs (1-1) to keep active their early-season undefeated run with a 66-57 victory over the Springers.
LaMonta Ellis led Hopewell with 20 points while Travonte Jones knocked down 16 and Elvin Edmonds IV netted 16. Edmonds, a sophomore, hit four three-point shots and went 4-4 from the freethrow line.
The Springers took control of the game’s early stages with an aggressive mentality. Tenacious on defense, they moved the ball quickly on offense and found men inside the perimeter to grind out an early 5-4 lead.
The Blue Devils found it hard to maintain ball control at the offensive end of the court, giving up turnovers and having to reset into a defensive formation. They were able to muscle through the Springers’ defense to keep the game close at 9-6 by the end of the first quarter.
It didn’t take long for Highland Springs to translate its early dominance to the scoreboard in the second quarter. Field goals from Jordan Crump and a three-point shot from Jordan Crump put Highland Springs ahead 20-12, prompting a timeout from the Blue Devils.
“The problem was that we were slow getting into our offense. Basically, what we were driving to the team was: calm down and attack the gaps,” said assistant head coach Charles Pate. “We noticed there was an extended 2-3 zone. We realized if we could get the ball in the middle, that it would collapse and someone could get to the baseline for an easy layup.”
Hopewell responded to the 8-point deficit by going on a 9-point run of its own to take a 21-20 lead with a minute left in the half.
Edmonds began the run by draining a long 3-point shot. Jamareon Brown did the same from the right side of the arc on the Blue Devils’ next possession. Ellis made it to the interior for a twopoint shot to complete Hopewell’s run to its first lead of the game.
Hopewell finished the half with a narrow 23-22 advantage after working out the offensive game plan.
“Coach Robinson said to them, ‘You panic when I panic. I’m not panicking. We’re ok. We’re going to figure this out,’” Pate said.
Highland Springs opened the second half with ball control around the Hopewell perimeter and took a short 26-23 lead. The Blue Devils muscled through the high press on the next play to tie the game.
Izeah Parker split two defenders inside his arc and found Ellis in the center of the court. Ellis beat another Highland Springs defender springing in to make an interception, then fed Edmonds out wide. Edmonds drained his second three-point score of the game.
Hopewell never lost the lead from that moment forward.
The third quarter ended at 44-38.
“Now we have to turn it up,” Pate said about his team’s mentality heading into the final quarter. “We started off slow, then slightly put our foot on the gas. We wanted the team to floor it, but smart. We dodged some bullets and took some gambles but the message was, ‘Don’t panic. Stick to the game plan.”
The Blue Devils continued to execute, outscoring the Springers 22-19 in the fourth quarter.
The Hopewell crowd roared for the first time in the game after two huge blocks turned into points at the other end. A Springer was clean in for a layup until Ellis came flying in to smack the ball off the backboard. The rebound went to another attacker who was stuffed by Edmonds at the arc. Parker peeled away to the other end of the court and slammed the ball down for a dunk after taking the long pass from his teammate at the other end.
“Defense was a lot better than the first game. We came out slow and sluggish [against Central Virginia Homeschool],” Pate said. “We still believe we have that target on our back as Hopewell, so people are gunning for us. We really had to just lock arms and finish strong. This was an ugly win. I hate ugly wins, but I will take an ugly W versus a cute loss.”
The Blue Devils secured the 66-57 win by growing through the game, scoring 6, 17, 21 and then 22 points through the four quarters.
Interim head coach Dion Robinson took charge of his second game for Hopewell after a season-opening 73-46 victory over Central Virginia Homeschool. Robinson steps in during the absence of Hopewell Boys Basketball head coach Elvin Edmonds III.
“It’s new. Some of us have never played together,” Pate said about this team working with an interim head coach. “A lot of this out here is that we’re trying to figure it out. There are some things that we’re still working on, but we have a bunch of guys who are instilling selflessness to work for the team.”
Hopewell’s next game will be at home against crosstown rival Petersburg on Friday night.