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The Halifax County High School varsity softball team had an easy time Wednesday, shredding Staunton River, 16-1, in non-district action.
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Barons rise to top of James River standings
SoVaNow.com / January 22, 2014
The Bluestone Barons secured a ten-win regular season in the James River District last week when they defeated Cumberland on Tuesday and won back-to-back games against Goochland on Wednesday and Friday.
The Barons, ranked first in the district and 11-2 overall, are really starting to gel as a unit entering the final stretch of the regular season.
The Barons’ two losses came early in the season, against county rival Park View in week 1 and against 4-A Indian River High School in the Brunswick High School Holiday Classic held in December.
Bluestone took out Cumberland Tuesday at home by a 74-49 score. They defeated Goochland on the road on Wednesday, 88-84 and then sealed the sweep of Goochland on Friday, winning 66-53.
Contributing greatly to the Barons’ recent success are the team’s stepped-up defense and more dribble penetration from the guards to soften up the lane.
The players said the extra effort is paying dividends, with increased point production and rebounds for the team.
“We’ve been working hard on that (dribble penetration) and it’s working for us. We’re getting better shots and giving our big men a chance,” said Damian Winbush. “We’re just trying to play hard every play, whether it’s on offense or defense.”
Senior strong forward/center O’von Bullock said the dribble penetration issue was something they all shared in.
“It wasn’t all on the guards, said Bullock. “The coach told the ‘bigs’ that we were choking out each other and not giving the guards any kind of spacing. We were basically guarding ourselves.
“We spread out some and opened up things where the guards could see the lane better. It’s been working really good.
“We know we can play with anybody on the blocks and we are definitely getting better shots.”
The Barons also are getting very comfortable with their new defensive sets. In recent games the team is more frequently using a full court press on the inbound, forcing the dribbler away from the middle of the court and running a 2-1-2 defense.
The defensive pressure came in quite handy in Friday night’s game when Goochland launched a spirited comeback in the fourth quarter.
Goochland pulled to within five points (46-41) of the Barons in the fourth quarter after being down by as many as 15 points during the third period. The full-court press was put to use and the result was a 7-2 Barons run that stretched the lead to 53-43. It was great defensive play that sparked the offense and gave the Barons just the momentum they needed to win the game.
“Moving to that two-one-two, pressure the ball defense has been good for us,” Baron center Devin Roberts said. “We’re shutting down the lane more and just playing a lot better since coach put that in.”
Senior point guard Deshawn Pamplin added, “We’re just playing Barons’ basketball.”
Baron coach Kelvin Tucker said the players are starting to take ownership of the team — a sense he has sought to foster since taking over as first-year coach.
“When we played them [Goochland] the other night, [the Bulldogs’ Johnson] got us for like 30 points or so,” Tucker said referring to the Wednesday match-up. “We closed him out tonight and I think that was the key to the win.”
Johnson had 30 points in Wednesday’s game but was held to seven points on Friday.
“It’s all about energy — they see that high pressure defense equals easy points. I don’t have to preach about it any more; they see it works and they are committed to do it,” said Tucker.
“We have a saying — pressure bursts pipes; put enough pressure there and the pipe will burst.”
The Barons have an away game tonight [Wednesday] against Prince Edward and are at home on Thursday and Friday playing Buckingham and Amelia, respectively. All of these games are pending the recent winter weather.
Jayvee games start at 5:30 p.m. Varsity games follow jayvee competition.
Bluestone 66, Goochland 53
The Friday outing was the second match-up in as many nights for the two teams. Bluestone took the 13-point home victory over the Bulldogs thanks to a late fourth quarter run.
Bluestone had a good first period, jumping out to a 10-0 lead before Goochland had a chance to blink. The Barons finished with 18 points in the period, led by Trey Watson’s six points.
The Barons held Goochland to a deuce in the first frame.
Bluestone was outpaced in the second quarter 14-11 but still held a 29-16 lead into the half. Josh Hayden of Goochland scored 10 points in the period.
Goochland scored 21 points in the third and pulled within six points a couple of times. But the Barons held, scoring 15 points and going up 44-37 to end the quarter. Pamplin and Watson led the Barons — Pamplin had three deuces while Watson had a trey and a basket.
Bluestone broke the 20-point mark in the fourth, scoring 22 in the frame. A 7-2 run a little past midway in the quarter broke the game open.
Damian Winbush paced Bluestone in the fourth with nine points to help take the 66-53 win.
Bluestone had three players in double figures. Winbush and Pamplin had 16 each and Watson added 15 points. Hayden led Goochland with 20 points.
Bluestone had 20 team fouls in the game but shot 63 percent from the line. The team had 12 blocks, 22 deflections, 11 assists and 18 steals. The Barons won the battle of the boardsm 49-25.
Bluestone: Winbush 16, Roberts 8, Patrick 4, Baskerville 3, Pamplin 16, Watson 15, Davis 2 and Bullock 2.
Goochland: Myles 2, Hayden 20, Snead 18, Johnson 7, Easley 2 and Hobbs 4.
Bluestone 88, Goochland 84
The Barons’ game at Goochland Wednesday night was a lot closer than the Friday sequel in Skipwith. Bluestone had a great offensive game, though.
The Barons opened with a 28-point first period and held Goochland to under 20 points at 17.
Winbush knocked down 10 points in the opening frame. Four other Bluestone players had four or more points each in the period.
Goochland tightened up in the second period, scoring 25 points and holding Bluestone to 14. Pamplin paced the Barons with seven points.
Bluestone had another 14-point quarter in the third while Goochland put up 24. The Bulldogs led 66-56 entering the fourth.
Bluestone exploded in the final period for 32 points — besting Goochland by 14 points in the frame. Roberts led Bluestone with 11 points.
For the game, Winbush led the Barons with 21 points. Roberts and Watson posted double figures with 20 and 11 points, respectively.
The Barons won the rebounding battle 41-29, had nine assists and 18 steals. The team also had 12 blocks in the game.
Bluestone: Winbush 21, Roberts 20, Patrick 6, Baskerville 9, Pamplin 9, Watson 1, Mosley 1, Hillard 5 and Bullock 6.
Goochland: Jefferson 2, Myles 19, Hayden 16, Alexander 9, Snead 5, Johnson 30 and Hobbs 3.
Bluestone 74, Cumberland 49
Bluestone wasted no time in locking up this home win on Tuesday night, scoring 37 points in the first half. In the first period, the Barons outpaced the Dukes 20-10. Baskerville scored seven points for Bluestone in the opening frame.
Baskerville drilled two treys and a deuce in the second period to help Bluestone to a 37-28 halftime lead.
The Barons outscored Cumberland 37-21 in the second half, with 23 points coming in the fourth quarter. Roberts had 10 second half points for Bluestone.
Team Scores: Winbush 2, Pamplin 12, Bullock 5, Roberts 12, Tucker 6, Patrick 8, Tucker 6, Baskerville 20 and Watson 6.
Cumberland: Brown 2, Childress 12, Ford 15, Booker 13, Jones 1 and Mayo 6.
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