A tale of two games, a fitting title for two incredibly different matchups, tempos, defenses, offenses and teams. On Tuesday night, the higher seeds won out, as the Springers from Highland Springs defeated the Royals from Prince George 68-62 and the Blue Devils of Varina easily dismantled the Warriors of Matoaca 54-39. One would define the matchup between Varina and Matoaca as slow-paced, unapprehensive and well-calculated, while the second game would be one known as a “free-for-all”, a game where high-flying dunks and falls from above the basket were more than common.
After a pretty even first half in which Varina led by only five at the break, the Blue Devils pulled away and won by sixteen come the final buzzer. Jhalen Thomas led all Springer scorers with fifteen points, nine of which came from behind the arc. Two other Springer players were in double digits, as Andre Watkins had twelve and Anthony Taylor added another ten. For the Blue Devils, Terrance Whitfield matched Thomas’s scoring at fifteen, while perennial scorer Obidiah Stith heated up in the second half to finish with ten points.
A major advantage for Varina was their ability to reach the free-throw line consistently compared to Matoaca who only reached it four times the entire evening, draining 75% of their shots. Matoaca actually rebounded Varina 19-15, but had a considerably smaller put-back percentage. The Warriors also turned it over eleven more times than the Blue Devils. Varina moves to 17-6 on the season and advances to play Meadowbrook tomorrow evening at 7:15 at Meadowbrook.
While the first game was slow and collected, the second could be described as a unending offensive attack from both sides, as four players scored more than 15 points. At many points during the game, players from both teams could be found on the floor, scrapping for balls and climbing over each other for a chance to win the possession. Donald Little took over the game for the Springers, scoring 15 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter alone, almost singlehandedly leading them to victory. Arthur Radford added another 19 to help his team advance. For the Royals, Cory Hill used his high-flying abilities to drop 19 on the opponent and big man Savonte Chappell donated 18 more.
From the line, the Royals shot 78% from the line compared to the Springers’ 59%, but even this was not enough, as they turned the ball over twenty times over the course of 32 minutes. Both teams advanced to 12-11 on the season, but only Highland Springs will advance to tomorrow where they will meet the 19-1 Skyhawks of L. C. Bird in the semifinals for a chance to play in the 5A South Regional Tournament.
(contributed by RVA Sports Network correspondent Preston Hausser)