Tuesday, December 04, 2012
William Fleming overcomes tall challenge, former rival
The Colonels upset Virginia Episcopal, a team coached by former Patrick Henry star Curtis Staples.
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This was no homecoming.
This was a battle on the hardwood where no one cared where the coaches went to high school or about storylines of Roanoke hoops heroes of yesteryear.
This was William Fleming facing an unfamiliar foe from the private school ranks, Lynchburg's Virginia Episcopal School, that just happens to be coached by one of Fleming's former rivals, Curtis Staples.
The Colonels came away with a 61-53 home win against Staples, the Patrick Henry sharpshooter who starred at UVa, and assistant coach Joe Gaither, a former assistant at Fleming and head coach at Roanoke Catholic.
Fleming coach Mickey Hardy wasn't worried about Staples or Gaither; he was concerned about players Skye Johnson, Caleb White and Anthony Swan.
"Wow, 6-8, 6-9, 6-7. They got some 6-6 kids. The tallest kid we got is 6-3 and we only have two of them," Hardy said. "It was more than a challenge. I told our kids we just wanted to compete, and we went out and competed.
"That was a great team we played tonight. I don't see a team in the state of Virginia that big across the board."
Despite the size advantage, the Bishops won the rebounding battle by only two, 40-38.
The sloppiness of an early-season game was obvious, but the Colonels came up with more 50-50 balls.
"That goes with our guys' desire to get loose balls," Hardy said. "We figure when it's a loose ball it's anybody's but we'd like for it to be ours."
Staples said the difference in desire was obvious.
"Fleming played well tonight and they deserved to win, they wanted to win more than we did and it was obvious," Staples said. "I felt like our guys thought they could just show up and they would win the game and not have to play. I told our guys that Fleming was going to fight and was going to scrap and they weren't going to care about how big they are or anything else, they were going to play hard."
The Colonels (2-0) outscored the Bishops by three in the first two quarters, easing out to a 31-25 halftime lead with a 13-6 run to end the second frame.
VES (0-1) then went to work on the glass and outrebounded Fleming 9-0 through the first half of the third, erasing the lead and going up by two when White threw in a jumper from the baseline while being fouled.
Momentum then abandoned the Bishops when Fleming's Shalik Law stole the ball in the backcourt and scored a tying lay-up. Seconds later he stole the ball again, missed a shot but hustled to get his own rebound, sent the ball to Raheem Caldwell who drained a three and staked the Colonels to a lead they would never relinquish.
"Games are played in spurts. We made a run then they came back and made a run. Thank God we made the last run," Hardy said.
Fleming sophomore Warren Craft led all scorers with 21 points. After struggling from the line in the first three quarters, he made eight of 11 in the fourth.
Caldwell rested an ailing back in the first half but scored nine in the game.
The Bishops, who only played eight players, two of whom had fewer than four minutes, were led by Johnson's double-double, 19 points and 13 boards. Swan had 11 points and White had 10.
Virginia Episcopal (0-1)
Johnson 6 7-10 19, Swan 4 2-2 11, White 5 0-3 10, Fields 2 1-2 5, Young 3 0-0 8, Djokovic 0 0-0 0, Jefferson 0 0-0 0m Riggs 0 0-0 0. Totals 20 10-17 53.
William Fleming (2-0)
Craft 5 10-18 21, Crowder 2 0-0 4, Dungee 2 3-6 8, Sawyers 2 0-0 6, Robertson 3 1-4 7, Shorter 0 0-1 0, Williams 2 0-0 4, Law 1 0-0 2, Caldwell 3 1-2 9, Casey 0 0-0 0. Totals 20 15-31 61.
Virginia Episcopal 10 15 15 13 - 53
William Fleming 13 18 12 18 - 61
3-point goals -- VES 3 (Young 2, Swan), William Fleming 6 (Sawyers 2, Caldwell 2, Craft, Dungee). Total fouls -- VES 21, William Fleming 15. Fouled out -- Swan. Technical Fouls -- none.