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Posted On: 12/12/17 3:07 PM
In a matchup between two of the top 15 teams in the Vantage Hoops Top 30 Power Poll. defending VISAA Division 2 State Champs Blue Ridge headed to Hopewell, VA to matchup with 3A favorites Hopewell. It was a close game throughout, with two well coached teams executing throughout the game.
Blue Ridge got out to a fast start as they pressured Hopewell’s backcourt and turned them over early, but the Blue Devils settled in midway through the first quarter and started making some plays. Hopewell went into halftime leading 35-29 behind 13 points from freshman Elvin Edmonds.
The Blue Devils came out with great energy on both ends, attacking the glass and holding Blue Ridge to just one shot for much of the third quarter. The Barons started to make shots midway through the third and early in the fourth, and they kept clawing and fighting, but in the end it just wasn’t enough as Hopewell escaped with a 63-57 victory on their home court.
MVP: Elvin Edmonds | Hopewell 2021
Edmonds has already made a name for himself, and the question was could he do it on the big stage? Well, he answered that question with 24 points, five rebounds and three assists against the defending state champs. He finished 8-for-14 from the field, 2-for-5 from deep and 6-for-7 from the line, all while being the primary ball handler as well. He’ll be one of the most productive freshmen in the Richmond area and one to keep an eye on moving forward.
Play of the Game
Late in the game as Blue Ridge was clawing back and had cut the deficit to four, Hopwell reserve guard Sean Wallace attacked the rim going left, threw a shovel pass back to the middle where senior forward Malik Jefferson was cutting to the rim and he through down a big two handed slam. It was just what the Blue Devils needed to halt the momentum and help seal the game for them.
Best Offensive Performer | Sardarr Calhoun | Blue Ridge 2018
Calhoun got in foul trouble in the first half, but in the second half he was virtually unguardable as he hit tough shot after tough shot from the midrange. Using his size, athleticism and touch, Calhoun was able to elevate over defenders off the bounce and hit contested shots to keep his team in it when they needed him to. The 6’5” wing finished with 19 points, 12 of which came in the second half, and shot 54% from the field while chipping in six rebounds as well.
Best Defensive Performer | Faizohn Taylor | Hopewell 2021
Taylor did a little bit of everything as the other guard for Hopewell as he finished with 16 points and five rebounds, but it was his playmaking on the defensive end that really stood out. Showing a great knack for where to be in help side, Taylor picked up four steals and three blocks, including a crucial block in the last minute as Blue Ridge was closing the gap. His play was a big reason for their win.
Best Guy off the Bench | Izeah Parker | Hopewell 2019
Parker’s athleticism, length and energy provided a huge boost for Hopewell off the bench as he finished around the rim, ran the floor and kept plays alive. The 6’7” forward finished with 10 points and four rebounds, but it wasn’t just what showed up in the stat sheet that impressed. His go-go-gadget arms altered shots, kept plays alive on the glass and made Blue Ridge think twice about going to the rack, making them settle for a lot of midrange jumpers and floaters.
Best Intangibles | Chris Rogers | Blue Ridge 2019
As the primary ball handler, Rogers did a great job getting Blue Ridge into sets, but also breaking down the defense off the bounce when there was nothing going on. He showed quick hands defensively, coming up with four steals, three of them in the open court, and despite his 5’10” frame he had no problem going down to help his team rebound. He had a gritty 13 points, five rebounds, five assists and four steals for the Barons.
Best Under the Radar Performance | Myles Jones | Blue Ridge 2018
Jones has accepted the role of the third guy on this Barons team and has progressively got better with time. He didn’t settle for outside shots as much as he has in the past, as he attacked the rim and finished in traffic, and he consistently made the right play on both ends of the floor. He finished with 15 points, three assists and two steals.
Best Underclassman | Elvin Edmonds | Hopewell 2021
Edmonds was brilliant in their win, and for the most part played well beyond his years except for a few silly turnovers, but the impact that he’ll have on this team will be as big as any freshman in Richmond. He’s their best ball handler and their best shooter, and the fact that he can shoot it off the bounce makes him such a threat in pick-and-roll situations. He has a quick release, a solid middle game and plays in control when attacking in downhill situations. He’ll likely be their top scorer, and will need to be a leader for them despite this being his first year of high school basketball.
Best Glue Guy | Malik Jefferson | Hopewell 2018
Jefferson was the perfect role player, as the guards for Hopewell did most of the scoring but he picked his spots and helped them out when his opportunities came. He did a great job screening at the top, finished with efficiency around the rim and rebounded well on both ends of the floor. He finished with 10 points and a team high seven rebounds, while shooting 5-for-8 from the floor.
Best Storyline to Watch Moving Forward
A good battle between both of these teams lead to wonder, what do both teams need to do improve on throughout the season to win a state championship? Here’s a look at what we think from just this game.
Hopewell: Take care of the basketball.
As talented as Edmonds is, he’s just a freshman and more of a combo than a true point guard, and their other guard Faizohn Taylor is a true two guard. The two combined for 40 points on the night, but also turned it over 12 times to my count. The two of them, along with reserve guard Sean Wallace, will have to take care of the basketball for them to win in March.
Blue Ridge: Everyone needs to rebound.
Over the past three seasons, Blue Ridge has been blessed to have some of the best and most athletic big men in the state. While junior Jaden Frazier has improved immensely over the past few years, he’s the only player on the roster that stands over 6’5″, and when faced with a Hopewell group that had four players 6’6″ or taller they were out rebounded 33-26 by my count. While that isn’t a ton, there were a number of those rebounds that were second chance opportunities for Hopewell. One thing that they will do to prevent this is pressure the basketball and turn teams over, as they had at least 13 steals on the game.