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Season ends for Dragons with first round loss to Hopewell

South Boston News
Dragon senior Jaison Dugger pushes an offensive rebound back up for a pair Friday night in Hopewell. (Steve Hinzman photo) / February 20, 2019
An otherwise successful season came to an end for the Park View Dragon varsity boys as they fell in the first round of the VHSL Class 3A East Region tournament on Friday night, losing to the third-seeded Hopewell High Blue Devils 79-68.

Seeded sixth in the region playoffs, the Dragons knew going in they had their work cut out for them. Hopewell won the East Region championship last season only to fall in the quarterfinals of the state playoffs in stunning fashion to George Wythe. Coming off that disappointment — Hopewell lost in the closing seconds against Wythe — the host Blue Devils are on a mission with this year’s postseason.

As the game began Park View vaulted to a quick 5-3 lead, with 6’5” senior Deandre Miles hitting the first two buckets for the Dragons, a deuce at the 7:48 mark and a trey at 6:40. Hopewell, behind a solid early performance by 6’4” senior Travonte Jones, tied the game up at 5-all with two-pointer at the 5:38 mark. The next bucket 13 seconds later by Hopewell guard Lamonta Ellis gave the Blue Devils their first lead.

On the Dragons’ next trip up the floor, Miles hit a bucket and drew a foul. The Dragon senior was able to complete the three-point play and PV was back in the lead 8-7 with 5:09 left in the first. The next offensive possession by Hopewell resulted in a turnover that started a 7-0 run by the Dragons. They got two-point baskets from freshman Josh Boyd and junior Latavion House and a deep trey from senior Hunter Sykes to take a 15-7 lead with 3:51 left in the first.

But the Blue Devils responded with a run of their own, outscoring Park View 15-2 in the final two minutes of the first quarter to take a 22-17 lead as the buzzer sounded. Nine of Hopewell’s points came from behind the arc as the Blue Devils sharpshooters started to feel the rhythm.

Hopewell’s Elvin Edmonds nailed four three-pointers during this stretch and Ellis added three free throws to push the Blue Devils out front. Hopewell added four more points in the closing seconds of the frame to take a five-point lead at the start of the second period.

The second period saw the Blue Devils take advantage of the Dragons’ defensive scheme, torching the nets for 27 points. Hopewell consistently outfoxed the zone defense of the Dragons, finding success by pushing the ball into the paint and then kicking it out to the wings for three-point attempts. The strategy worked very well as the Devil duo of Izeah Parker and Elvin Edmonds combined for nine points from long range in the first two minutes-plus of the second quarter.

Hopewell went ahead 31-20 with 5:50 left to play in the half. For Park View, Miles continued his yeoman-like performance, getting three of his team-leading 17 points at the 7:35 mark via an offensive rebound and putback, drawing a foul in the process. About midway through the frame, Dragon senior Jaison Dugger gave Dragon fans more reason to cheer as he made a jaw-dropping rejection of a Blue Devil shot.

But the Blue Devils continued to pile up points from beyond the three-point line, taking a 19-point lead with a minute left in the half. Miles got a free throw for the Dragons with 47 seconds left and J. Boyd added a deuce with 20 seconds to narrow the lead to 16 as the half ended, 49-33.

The Dragons switched to man-to-man defense in the closing seconds of the first half and that’s how they came out in the second. This caused considerable trouble for the Blue Devils and the Dragons were able to make a run. TJ House opened the scoring in the third with a deuce at 7:40 that started a 7-0 stretch for the Dragons, cutting into the Blue Devil lead.

Demetrius Bugg drew a foul for Park View and converted one of two from the line. His second free throw missed the mark, but Boyd took advantage of a PV rebound and scored a deuce inside to cut the lead to 11 at the 6:54 mark. Boyd would next post two more of his 14 points for the game at the 5:30 mark, cutting the Hopewell lead to 49-40.

The Blue Devils posted their first points of the third period as L. Ellis nailed a trey at the 4:52 mark, extending the lead back to 12. Miles scored on the Dragons’ next offensive possession followed quickly by a two-pointer for Hopewell. Park View then went on another run, scoring eight points in less than two minutes to cut the Hopewell lead to 54-48 with 2:56 left to play in the third.

At the 2:22 mark, J. Dugger hit a deuce to draw Park View within four points, 54-50, but that’s as close as the Dragons would come the rest of the night.

With less than two minutes to play in the third, Miles made what appeared to be a brilliant defensive play for Park View, leaping well above the rim to swat away a Blue Devil shot. The referees felt the ball had started its descent to the basket and called goaltending. The two points extended Hopewell’s lead to 58-50. The Blue Devils closed out the third by outscoring Park View 5-3 to take a 63-53 lead with one more stanza to play.

The fourth period started well for Park View as Martavious Hendricks made his presence known with a trey only 10 seconds in. Then, at the 7:17 mark, Boyd completed two free throws and the Dragons could see a glimmer of hope, trailing by just five points. But Hopewell’s Edmonds put a damper on things, hitting a two-pointer followed by another Hopewell deuce to push the lead back up to nine points with 4:41 left to go.

Demetrious Bugg got a bucket at the 5:02 mark and then after a tie-up at mid-court the Dragons called a quick timeout to save the possession. That worked out for PV as Miles scored two points to trim the lead to 69-62.

The PV offense then turned cold and trailing by seven with 1:50 left in the game, the Dragons were forced to start fouling. The Blue Devils were up to the task and would go 7 for 10 from the line in the closing moments to seal the victory, final score 79-68.

An obviously disappointed Dragon head coach Danny Watkins expressed pride in his team afterwards: “Our kids played hard. We got down big but were able to get it back to four. We just couldn’t finish it,” he continued. “It always hurts here at the end of the season. We’ll just get back to work and get ready for next season.”

With the loss, the Dragons finish the 2018-19 campaign with a 17-8 overall record, 13-3 in the Tri-Rivers District. They finished the regular season behind first place Surry and also ended the district tournament as runners-up to the same Surry Cougars squad.

The Blue Devils were set to host I.C. Norcom last night (Tuesday) in Hopewell after the 7th seed Greyhounds upset the second-seeded Tigers of Tabb High on Friday night.

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