Plymouth boys defend Classic championship

Published 8:43 am Monday, January 6, 2014

AHOSKIE – Maybe good things do come in threes.

2013 marked the third time Hertford County and Plymouth High Schools had met for the championship of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald Holiday Classic sponsored by United Country Joe Murray Realty. Each had won the title in the previous two years.

For the second straight year, Plymouth was the one hoisting the silver awards bowl, and the Vikings were doing it in just their third basketball game of the season.

The team got a late start to the hoops season because of playing in the 1A state football championship.

The third time turned out to be the charm.

Plymouth blazed out to an early lead they never relinquished. Hertford County – who had won seven in a row since dropping their season opener to Rocky Mount – had their poorest shooting night of the young season. It added up to a 62-44 Plymouth victory.

The Bears’ Jquwan Ruffin tied for scoring honors with eventual Tournament MVP, Plymouth’s Adrian Moore, as both had 23 points. Tyquan Davis was the only other Hertford County player in double-figures with eleven.

Travis Norman had 13 points for Plymouth and Davonta Spruill added ten.

“We just played with a lot of energy,” said Plymouth coach Marvin Davenport. “We ran the floor, took good shots, didn’t do a lot of unnecessary fouling, and we played defense, and that’s the name of the game: defense.”

The Vikings opened the game on an 8-0 run. Ruffin dropped a rainbow three-point shot, but that was as close as the Bears came all night. Plymouth strung together eight more in a row before a Davis three-pointer made it a 13-point deficit, and it was the Bears down by eleven, 22-11, at the end of the first quarter.

Plymouth opened the second quarter on a 9-1 run that boosted the margin to nineteen at 31-12. Ruffin did manage to excite the large and mostly HCHS partisan crowd with a thunderous slam dunk to break the string.  The Bears continued to mostly misfire and the two teams entered the locker-room at half time with Hertford County in a 21-point hole, 37-16.

The second half opened with some sloppy play by both teams.  Moore got a put back and the teams basically exchanged baskets, which was not the way Hertford County could chip away at the lead and make it a game again.

The Bears could never establish an inside game, best shown by one point being scored by power forward O’Shane Ximines. The Vikings were ready for – and very good at – defending the perimeter in a jump-shot game.  Darius Wright was able to score underneath and draw a foul, completing a conventional three-point play. He came back and put in a put back off an offensive rebound, but the Bears were still down by 19, 45-26.

After a break of several minutes on the Plymouth bench, Moore returned to the game and had an acrobatic baseline move to the basket as Plymouth surpassed the 20-point advantage mark, 54-31. However, Ruffin closed out the third quarter with a pair of free throws.

Davenport cleared his bench, with the exception of Moore, in the fourth quarter. The swingman didn’t disappoint his coach, nor did he seem to be running up the score. Jarrett Sexton, who had been contained by the Plymouth defense for most of the night, opened the quarter with an acrobatic move to the bucket and got the deficit in the game under 20 for the next to last time for Hertford County. Plymouth’s lead hovered around the 20-point mark for most of the quarter before Davis hit the final shot of the night and the Bears absorbed an 18-point loss.

“This was the worst shooting effort by us all year,” said disappointed Bears coach Charles Simmons. “We didn’t play with any intensity on our offense or defense. We just have to put this game behind us.”

The 2013 Holiday Classic All-Tournament Team consisted of G.J. Mullins of Hobgood Academy, Corey Jackson of Pasquotank, P.J. Gary of Gates County, Jamal Perry of Bertie, Ruffin and Jemel Monger for Hertford County, and Spruill, Anthony Daniels, and Rashad Pinner for Plymouth.  Moore was named as Tournament Most-Valuable-Player.

Hertford County returned to action, but lost to South Central, 69-60, on Thursday in Winterville.  They will be back at home against Norfolk Christian today (Saturday) before Northeastern Coastal Conference action begins for the new year on Tuesday with a trip to Currituck.