The Princeton Tigers had three players score in double digits and forced 16 turnovers to claim a 71-48 win over the James Monroe Mavericks in the nightcap of the opening round of the Alpha Natural Resources Tournament, Thursday night at the PSHS gymnasium.
The Tigers roared out of the locker room, took the opening tip and scored the first three baskets of the game. At the same time the Princeton defense forced James Monroe turnovers on each of the Mavericks’ first three possessions.
Micah Deskins’ two free throws gave James Monroe its first points of the night, but again Princeton roared, opening an 11-point lead when Ryan Meadows drained a three from the right wing.
The Tigers, utilizing a full-court press and a swarming defense, forced eight James Monroe turnovers in the first quarter and held a 26-10 lead after the initial eight minutes of play.
Princeton’s aggressiveness seemed to fade away in the second period. The Tigers turned the ball over four times and when Jacob McKlarney hit a three, the former 18-point lead was down to 12.
“I was proud of how we fought in the second quarter,” said James Monroe coach Jonathan McPherson. “A lot of teams would just fall over, especially playing a triple-A (team) on their home floor and they jump out to a run like that, but I was proud of how our boys fought up until halftime.”
A trey by Meadows and a bucket by Hunter Walters gave the Tigers a spark late in the second frame and the teams went to the intermission with Princeton ahead 36-23.
“I wasn’t very pleased with our intensity in our man-for-man defense in the first half and that was what we talked about at halftime, the importance of being able to play solid man-for-man defense and having the mindset of going out to win regardless of who your opponent is,” Princeton head coach Ernie Gilliard said. “You can’t play down to your level of competition and get where we want to go. In the first half not pleased at all. In the second half, very pleased.”
Key for both teams was James Monroe’s 6’8 Josh Ganoe going to the bench with his third personal foul with 90 seconds to play in the half. Ganoe then sat out most of the third quarter.
“Any time your 6’8 kid gets into foul trouble, you’re going to see a difference on the floor in just how the game is played,” McPherson said. “I thought some of our guys went in and did a pretty good job. I know that third quarter we had a lot of turnovers and it’s hard to compete when you turn the ball over.”
In the third Princeton appeared to regain some of the energy it had in the opening minutes of the game as Meadows connected from outside and 6’7 Aaron Ferguson used his size inside. A 13-2 run to open the third by the Tigers spelled doom for the Mavericks, who could not close the gap. Princeton led 58-36 after three and the lead grew as high as 29 in the final period.
Meadows led Princeton and all scorers with 18. Ferguson added 13 and Derek Jennelle tallied 10.
Deskins was the lone Maverick in double digit scoring with 11.
James Monroe will play Mount View, who fell to Patrick Henry-Roanoke, in Thursday night’s opening game, tonight at 5:30. McPherson said the Golden Knights are no stranger to the Mavericks.
“They (Mount View) always play hard. Last year we played them three times and all three of them were close battles,” McPherson said. “I expect the same thing. That’s a sectional rival, a team we’ll face in the sectionals. It’s definitely a game we want to win and I’m sure they feel the same way.”
Princeton will take on Patrick Henry-Roanoke for the Alpha Natural Resources Tournament championship, tonight at 7:30. Gilliard expects a battle.
“Number one, we had better take care of the ball,” Gilliard said. We’d better get ready for a solid, pressure defense. They (Patrick Henry) do a lot of trapping defense, half court, out of their man-for-man. They are very athletic.
“We are looking probably at a mirror image of Bluefield, or Woodrow, or Greenbrier East. They are a very talented basketball team. We’re going to have to come out, definitely have our A game and definitely have a little more intensity to start than we did tonight.”
At Princeton Senior High School
JAMES MONROE (48)
Micah Deskins 3 5-7 11, Caleb Brown 1 0-0 2, Chord Settle 2 1-2 3, Chastin Wickline 3 1-2 7, Ryan Wickine 0 0-0 0, Caleb Spencer 0 0-0 0, Preston Jones 1 0-0 2, Rasheed Lowe 0 0-0 0, Tyler Moore 0 0-1 1, Landon Shires 0 0-0 0, Devon Carr 0 0-0 0, Jacob McKlarney 3 0-0 9, Garrett Mann 3 1-2 7, Josh Ganoe 3 0-2 6, Totals 15 9-17 48.
Lamont Lee 3 0-0 6, Ryan Meadows 6 3-3 18, Derek Jennelle 4 2-2 10, Ryan Rogers 2 0-2 6, Ashton O’Dell 0 0-0 0, Joseph Mills 0 0-0 0, Storm McPherson 1 0-0 2, Zen Clements 1 0-0 2, Hunter Walters 4 0-0 8, Kyle Caron 3 0-0 6, Aaron Ferguson 5 3-6 13, Totals 29 8-13 17.
James Monroe...................10 13 13 12 — 48
Princeton............................26 10 22 13 — 71
Three point baskets: JM-none, P-Meadows 3, Rogers 2