Hopewell goes 3-0 on the week

Blue Devils de­feat High­land Springs, Va­rina, Glen Allen

The Progress-Index Weekend - - COURTSIDE - By Chai Gal­lahun

HOPEWELL - The Blue Devils are off to a strong start to the 2018-19 girls bas­ket­ball sea­son, sweep­ing the week to go 3-0.

But it wasn't easy. Hopewell Girls Bas­ket­ball on Thurs­day faced off against the High­land Springs Springers in what would prove to be one of the Juan Stephen­son Clas­sic in­vi­ta­tional's most thrilling matchups. And, while the sea­son is just open­ing, this will be one to re­mem­ber for quite some time.

Both teams opened the first min­utes of the game with suc­cess­ful bas­ket at­tempts. Hopewell took the lead within min­utes, gain­ing the ad­van­tage of 9-4.

But this would change. High­land Springs pulled ahead from be­hind with a sin­gle-point lead (23-22) in their fa­vor.

The Lady Blue Devils had been steal­ing all man­ner of balls from High­land Springs in the be­gin­ning of the game. The Springers turned the ta­bles on the Blue Devils and con­vert­ing steals of their own into points.

At half­time the Springers en­joyed a score of 35-28 in their fa­vor. At the be­gin­ning of the third pe­riod, the Springers were ahead 46-43, with Hopewell clos­ing the gap in spite of their grow­ing num­ber of fouls.

But se­nior Courtney Scott then scored two free throws that tied up the con­test, 48-48.

As the ticker for the fourth pe­riod de­creased in time, Hopewell man­aged to steal and in­ter­cept many Springer drives, con­vert­ing them into points. The crowd went wild with cheers in sup­port of the Blue Devils.

When High­land Springs called for a cou­ple of strate­gi­cally-timed time­outs, the lat­est one with five min­utes and 38 sec­onds re­main­ing, Hopewell head coach coach Jackie Ed­monds could be heard telling her team: “Stay ag­gres­sive. You’ve got to stay ag­gres­sive. Don’t let up. Stay ag­gres­sive in this game.”

But the Springers got ag­gres­sive as well, tak­ing full ad­van­tage of free throws and sharp plays to even the score at 57-57 with 2:57 left in the game.

High­land Springs got ahead of Hopewell be­fore the clock ran out, but Hopewell man­aged to re­cover and tie the game back up for a 62-62 score and send the matchup into over­time.

The fi­nal mo­ments of the game were de­cided via free throws. Hopewell pulled through with a vic­to­ri­ous fi­nal score of 69-66 to the thun­der­ous cheer­ing of the ap­plaud­ing crowds.

“I’m a sup­porter of the Springers,” said Sarah Crowdin. “But, even though we lost, you can’t com­plain about this game. It was so close. We al­most had it in the bas­ket! Our girls gave it their all and did a great job. Hopewell just had that spe­cial magic.”

“I think the girls just wanted it more,” Coach Ed­monds said. “They played hard the whole, en­tire game, and they were ag­gres­sive the whole, en­tire game. They just re­ally wanted this win, and it feels re­ally good.”

As the team, staff and sup­port­ers smiled, laughed and cheered around her, Ed­monds ex­plained that en­cour­age­ment goes a long way.

She added that hav­ing a “never give-up men­tal­ity” helped pro­pel her team to vic­tory.

“That’s what we teach,” Ed­monds said. “You play to the very end, un­til the buzzer goes off, and that’s what we did.”

Ed­monds smiled with ex­cite­ment and said, “I just want to com­mend the girls on hav­ing a great game, not giv­ing up, for play­ing ‘team ball,’ work­ing to­gether, and trust­ing each other. Trust is the key and they trusted each other tonight, mak­ing re­ally good passes, found the open per­son and knocked down their shots.”

Ty­jana Sim­mons rocked a team-lead­ing 24 points, Courtney Scott de­liv­ered 13 points and seven re­bounds, Mes­siah Hunter added 13 points, eight re­bounds and 7 blocks and Alena Pel­ham chipped in nine points and seven re­bounds. Ariel Green and Zy’keiar­rah Brooks, the Hopewell coaches noted, played great de­fense.

Hopewell ul­ti­mately won three games in as many days. The Blue Devils turned around on Fri­day and de­feated the Va­rina Blue Devils 55-42, again in the Juan Stephen­son In­vi­ta­tional at Prince Ge­orge High School. Scott led that game with 24 points and added four re­bounds. Sim­mons con­trib­uted 14 points and six steals and Mes­siah Scott net­ted 12 points. Ariel Green de­liv­ered three re­bounds, three as­sists and three steals.

Hopewell con­cluded the week in the Monacan Bas­ket­ball Show­case on Sat­ur­day with a game ver­sus Glen Allen. The Blue Devils took com­mand early and re­mained dom­i­nant through­out the con­test to de­feat the Jaguars 44-27. Seven dif­fer­ent play­ers scored for the Blue Devils with Pel­ham and Hunter each scor­ing 11 points to lead the team.

Hopewell Girls Bas­ket­ball will host its first home game of the sea­son ver­sus Mead­ow­brook at Hopewell High School on Tues­day, Dec. 4 at 7:15 p.m.

[NICK VANDELOECHT/PROGRESS-IN­DEX.COM]

Hopewell Girls Bas­ket­ball’s Ta­tianna Brown (#11) at­tempts to haul in the loose ball while her team­mate Ty­jana Sim­mons (#4) looks on in the Blue Devils’ Monacan Bas­ket­ball Show­case in­vi­ta­tional game ver­sus Glen Allen on Sat­ur­day.

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