HCHS returns to finals
AHOSKIE – Showtime, showdown.
For the second year in a row, Hertford County and Plymouth are matched together in the boys final of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald Holiday Classic sponsored by United Country Joe Murray Realty.
While the Bears claimed last year’s crown, the Vikings used the loss to launch their way all the way to the 1-A basketball state championship game.
Maybe this year it’s the Bears’ turn.
The home team-host team showed no signs of a post-Christmas hangover Thursday night as the Bears dispatched Princess Anne of Virginia Beach, Virginia 75-43.
Despite picking up two quick, early fouls, HCHS’s Jquwan Ruffin returned to lead all scorers with 18 points; the only Bear in double-figures on a night of balanced scoring by Hertford County.
Tyrell Jones had 11 points to lead the visiting Cavaliers.
The Bears held their opponent to just two made baskets from the floor the entire first half. However, coaches always find sometime their teams can use to improve and for HCHS it was allowing 9-of-10 first-half Princess Anne free throws.
“I was pleased with our intensity,” said veteran Hertford County coach Charles Simmons. “Because we came out like we were ready to play.
“I told them whatever they did to prepare for this, they need to do the same thing on Saturday,” he added with a smile.
The Bears’ defense was especially suffocating. Princess Anne got a layup at the 5:18 mark of the first quarter and didn’t score again from the floor until three minutes were left in the third.
Jarrett Sexton got Hertford County’s first basket, but Ruffin picked up a quick foul on the way back upcourt.
The junior swing guard didn’t let it bother him, though, as he proceeded to drain a pair of long-range three-point shots, making it,10-4, HCHS. But less than a minute later he picked up his second foul.
Simmons simply went to his bench and inserted TyQuan Davis, who proceeded to blast in a long-range jumper and a three-point shot of his own, sandwiched between a short shot by Jemel Monger.
Neither team scored in the quarter’s final minute and a half and the horn sounded with the Bears ahead, 17-6.
Davis remained hot, draining another trey to open the second quarter. HCHS went on a 7-0 run during that five minute span before the Cavaliers began to attack the basket.
That action drew Bear fouls and the Cavs simply marched to the line and drained their foul shots; at one point making 8-of-10.
Hertford County missed some easy inside shots, but Princess Anne never countered. The teams entered the locker room at halftime with the Bears comfortably ahead, 30-14.
Then came the volcano.
Ryan Weaver opened the second half with a three-pointer, and for Princess Anne it just got uglier from there. The Bears scored 21 unanswered to take a 40-point lead, 54-14. Ten of those points came from Ruffin, mostly from playing out front and getting steals that he turned into layups.
Finally, with 2:59 to go in the quarter, Princess Anne finally made a field goal and maybe it served to relax Cavs coach Derrick Canady’s team. They may have been outscored 7-4 by Hertford County, but at least they were making buckets.
Simmons began to clear his bench and Juan Moody and Caslee Simms scored 12 of Hertford County’s last 14 points as Monger got the other two on a pair of foul shots. Princess Anne actually won the final quarter, 21-14.
“The long bus ride kind of got to us,” said Canady. “But I won’t use that as an excuse. We forced up a lot of bad shots and lost to a better team.”
Simmons turned his attention to tonight’s boys final.
“Plymouth’s got basically everybody back and that’s what we look for, we want to play in the championship game,” he said.
Tip-off tonight for the finale is at 8:30 p.m.