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Posted On: 03/19/18 10:22 PM
The most exciting state championship of the VHSL came in the last one, as John Handley from Winchester matched up with Lake Taylor from Norfolk in an instant classic. This one featured a number of big time players who made big plays and it went down to the wire time and time again.
The Titans came in as the favorites, led by a big three of seniors in 6’6” Dereon Seabron, 6’3” Jalen Jordan and 6’0” Joe Bryant. Handley was somewhat of a surprise, as they beat defending state champions Loudoun Valley in the Region championship on a buzzer beater from point guard Mike Brown.
This game was all it was cracked up to be. It was back and forth early, until Lake Taylor went on a big run late in the second quarter to take a 31-21 lead into halftime. After some adjustments during halftime, Handley made a big run to start the third quarter to take the lead, and things got interesting after that. Things went back and forth, and senior Dereon Seabron split a pair of free throws with .4 seconds left to send things into overtime tied at 50-50.
It was a stalemate in overtime, as each team scored just four points and we went to double overtime tied at 54 a piece. The second overtime was one for the ages, as Seabron took over late and willed his team on an empty tank to the promise land. Lake Taylor ended up pulling away, winning 72-66 in one of the best games of the season.
MVP: Dereon Seabron | Lake Taylor 2018
Seabron absolutely took over the game when his team needed it most, and was the biggest reason that they were able to pull out a gutsy victory. The 6’6” wing did a little bit of everything for his team, and was huge scoring eight of their 18 points in the final overtime. A little more on Seabron can be seen below.
Play of the Game
It had to be the three pointer for the second basket of double overtime by reserve guard Dea’Vaughn Blackwell. It was one of the biggest shots of the year, and will likely be the biggest shot of his life, until he followed it up with another one about a minute later.
Best Offensive Performer: Dereon Seabron | Lake Taylor 2018
Seabron, as mentioned before, took over the basketball game late, shouldering the load offensively and putting on one of the best performances of the state tournament. He finished with an impressive 24 points, 9 rebounds (five of them offensive) and 3 assists, and played the entire 40 minutes of the game, one of only two players to do that. He played and guard multiple positions, and at times was the primary ball handler and the post defender. He’s undecided as to what he’ll be doing next year, but we expect him to prep and be a big time recruit moving forward with his versatility.
Best Defensive Performer: Kevin Curry | John Handley 2019
Talk about doing the dirty work, this 6’4” forward did a little bit of everything for Handley, and handed in one of the best defensive performances of the tournament as well. He guarded all over the floor, but more importantly he made plays on the defensive end forcing turnovers and protecting the rim. He finished with seven steals and three blocks on the game.
Best Guy off Bench: Dea’Vaughn Blackwell | Lake Taylor 2019
Stepping up in the clutch was Blackwell, who coming off the bench hit for 5-for-6 three-point attempts, including two in double overtime. He picked a great time to step up, as he was the designated shooter off the bench all season but hit the most threes of any game in this one.
Best Under the Radar Performer: Mike Brown | Handley 2018
I’ll admit that I had underrated this kid. Don’t get it twisted, I love his game but I always tried to pick it apart, and despite having one of his worst performances of the playoffs he showed incredible toughness which will take him to great levels wherever he ends up in college. Lake Taylor forced him to turn it over a few too many times early, and he didn’t get off to a great shooting start, but that didn’t deter him from attacking and putting his team on his back. He finished with 20 points and six assits, with 13 of his points coming in the second half.
Best Intangibles: Joe Bryant | Lake Taylor 2018
Bryant made some tough shots throughout the game, and despite not shooting it a great percentage he did a lot of the dirty work to help his team win. He finished with 13 points, but at 6’0” he used his bulky frame to bang in the post and pull in 8 rebounds, and on the defensive end he pitched in three blocks and two steals. His toughness was huge for them.
Best Shooter: Gus Wise | John Handley 2018
Wise was lights out throughout the game for Handley, and whenever they needed a big shot down the stretch he came through with them. Wise finished with 14 points, but was perfect from the field going 5-for-5 and going 3-for-3 from deep. He hit a couple of big shots down the stretch to keep them in the game as well.
Best Guy off Bench (Part 2): Colin Smith | John Handley 2018
One of the best adjustments that Handley made was to insert Smith into the lineup at the beginning of the third quarter after playing just three minutes in the first half. In that quarter, Smith scored eight points in the first four minutes, and was the catalyst in their comeback from down 10 to lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Best Glue Guy: Jalen Jordan | Lake Taylor 2018
Jordan has been the third piece of the senior core and did a little bit of everything they need him to do. He isn’t really great at one thing, but is very good at a lot of things. He finished with 11 points, 5 assists and 5 rebounds and went 4-for-7 from the field. His contributions to the team go far beyond what the stat sheet says as well.