Lee Stalls HHS

Slows Down Pace To Beat Streaks, 74-67

Posted: January 12, 2013

STAUNTON – Jarrett Hatcher refers to his R.E. Lee High School boys’ basketball team as “Jekyll and Hyde” – sometimes good, sometimes evil.

In a way, Hatcher took on the qualities of Dr. Jekyll with his strategy in the fourth-quarter against Harrisonburg on Friday, experimenting with a tactic that he knew could have evil consequences.
It worked.

After the Leemen played three quarters at their preferred, frenetic pace, Hatcher asked them to turn the final period into a game of stall ball. They executed the plan without a hitch, and never trailed in the fourth quarter of a 74-67 victory.

“That was the gamble,” Hatcher said. “We tried to hold the ball against Spotswood [in an 81-48 loss Tuesday]. We didn’t do it.

“Tonight, just the pace of the game, I thought, and as a staff, we talked about, ‘Let’s do this [slow pace] right now.’ …To shut it down in that kind of game, it was a gamble, and it worked.”

Lee (7-6 overall, 4-2 in the Valley District) took the lead for good at the end of the third, in a way that was befitting of the blinding tempo for three quarters. Senior guard Shai Matthews, the Valley’s leading scorer, knocked down one of his five 3s; then senior teammate Chad Whitelow stole Harrisonburg’s in-bounds pass and missed another 3; Lee sophomore Chance Sheffey tracked down a long rebound and jacked another 3, but was fouled. All that happened in about 15 seconds.

Sheffey hit all three free throws with a half-second left in the third to give Lee a 60-57 advantage.

That advantage allowed Hatcher to become a mad scientist.

Harrisonburg adjusted to Lee’s slow pace with traps, but the Leemen – and particularly Matthews, who finished with 25 points – usually just dribbled around them.

The dagger came when Lee drained 1 minute, 26 seconds of clock on one possession – which included an offensive rebound off a missed lay-up – before, finally, Whitelow scored inside, plus a foul. The free throw put Lee ahead 67-60 with 2:20 remaining.

“I felt down, but I didn’t want to bring [my teammates] down, because it would mess up the whole team,” said HHS senior forward Natahji Alford of his thoughts after that possession. “So I acted like nothing was wrong and that we were going to be all right, and that we were going to come back.”

Harrisonburg (4-8, 2-3) did have more chances, even though its leading scorer, senior guard Seth Kardos, scored just two of his 16 points in the second half. But the Blue Streaks missed some open looks and had some near-misses on steals in their defensive traps down the stretch, and Lee maintained a two-possession lead throughout with free throws.

“We’re not great at trapping,” HHS coach Scott Joyner said.

The fourth quarter was the longest stretch in which the Blue Streaks didn’t hold a lead. They hit their first six shots to lead 15-5 early, then went on a 14-3 run in the third to take a 50-48 advantage. Sheffey’s free throws at the end of the third broke the fifth tie of the period.

 Alford had 15 points and sophomore guard Damien Sampson had 14 to help HHS stay competitive in a contest that, up until the fourth quarter, was the highest-tempo game Harrisonburg had played all season, Joyner said.

But in the fourth, the Blue Streaks couldn’t keep up – or, rather, speed up – the new pace.

“We were a hair away from getting a steal, a hair away from getting a rebound, a hair away from getting a stop,” Joyner said of the fourth quarter. “The effort was there.”


Rodriguez 5 0-0 11, Williams 0 0-0 0, Kardos 7 1-3 16, Alford 5 5-6 15, Royer 0 0-0 0, Johnson 2 2-5 7, Phillips 1 0-0 0, Shifflett 1 0-0 0, Sampson 6 0-0 14, Whitelow 0 0-0 0, Measell 0 0-0 0. Totals 27 8-13 67.

R.E. Lee

Whitelow 4 6-11 16, Matthews 9 2-4 25, Horne 5 1-2 11, Anderson 0 0-0 0, Crawford 1 0-0 2, Saxman 1 0-0 3, Groff 0 0-0 0, Sheffey 2 6-7 10, Crawford 1 4-6 6, Spears 0 0-0 0. Totals 23 19-30 74.

Harrisonburg   14    22    21   14  - 67           
R.E. Lee             17    25    18   10  - 74

3-Point Goals—Harrisonburg 5 (Rodriguez 1, Kardos 1, Johnson 1, Sampson 2), Lee 9 (Whitelow 3, Matthews 5, Saxman 1). Fouled Out—Harrisonburg (Alford). Rebounds—Lee 24 (Whitelow 4, Crawford 4), Harrisonburg 32 (Kardos, Alford, Sampson 6). Total Fouls—Harrisonburg 19, Lee 9.

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