Eagles boys ‘in the zone’ against Cougars in 75-49 win
Posted: January 31, 2013
BERRYVILLE — It was referred to as a 1-2-2, a 1-1-3 and, by at least one opposing fan in the stands, “that junk defense.”
What it’s called may have been debatable, but its effectiveness was undeniable.
Taking on a Manassas Park team that beat them by three back on Jan. 3, the Clarke County boys’ basketball team came out with a new look on defense and got exactly the kind of results it was hoping for.
Frustrating and confusing the Cougars offense almost from the start, the Eagles jumped out to a lead in the first quarter and never looked back on their way to a big 75-49 Bull Run District victory.
“We put it in yesterday and it will be in the rest of the year,” said Clarke County coach Brent Emmart about his team’s new look on defense. “The best thing I could tell the guys is it’s a mixture of the Syracuse [zone] and an NBA matchup [zone]. It’s not a conventional zone.
“If I was a smarter coach it would have been in a long time ago ... just not good coaching on my part, but maybe we got it figured out here at the end.”
Looking like a soft 1-2-2 trap, the Eagles (9-11, 7-5 Bull Run) had junior Morgan Warfield hounding the ball about three-quarters of the way up the court while his teammates waited at or near halfcourt.
Once Manassas Park crossed the timeline, Clarke County quickly trapped and rotated to the ball, taking away passing lanes and forcing the Cougars into bad passes and ill-advised attempts to dribble through the defense.
“You could tell they had never seen anything like it and they hadn’t prepared for something like that,” said senior Davey Hardesty, who finished with a team-high 25 points, seven rebounds, five assists and one of Clarke’s 13 steals in the game.
“We went through it all practice yesterday and kind of figured out how to execute it correctly and it kind of threw them off their game. We showed how well it can work.”
Holding a 10-point lead (34-24) coming out of halftime, the Eagles turned up the heat on the defensive end and ran Manassas Park (11-7, 6-7) out of the building in the second half.
Hardesty opened the third quarter with two straight trips to the foul line off Cougars turnovers, senior Cody Taylor scored and was fouled and by the time Hardesty converted a spinning layup in the lane the Eagles held a 43-27 advantage.
Having seen the defense for 16 minutes in the first half, Cougars guards Derek Appleton and Nasser Smith (combined 11 turnovers) didn’t seem to have any better grasp on how to attack it over the final two quarters and their miscues fed Clarke transition game.
Three straight turnovers to close the third quarter resulted in layups for sophomore Sean McDonald (21 points) and allowed the Eagles to stretch their lead to 55-35.
The fourth quarter was more of the same as Clarke County scored 13 straight points, the last of which came off a layup by Warfield, who tied his career high with 18 points, off yet another Manassas Park miscue to make it a 33-point advantage.
“Defensively they changed up their strategy and came at us with some new pressure and some different angles that we didn’t see the first time [we played them],” said Manassas Park coach George Bailey, who was missing starter Myles Durr who is out with a fractured hand. “It made it look like we needed to change up what we do and that brought our guys out of their comfort zone and what they do best.”
The Cougars shot just 38 percent from the field (18 for 47), compared to 47 percent (31 for 66) for Clarke County.
Manassas Park 6-foot-2 senior LaQuan Gaines-Ward finished with 13 points and 12 rebounds in the loss.
For the game the Eagles defense forced 19 turnovers — while committing just six of their own — and got a much-needed district victory.
Coming in locked in a three-way tie for third place with Manassas Park and George Mason, Clarke County knew that a victory would go a long way toward securing a playoff berth.
“First three spots [in the district] probably get into regional play, so we’re trying to lock up third,” Emmart said. “If we lost this game our postseason dreams are kind of down the drain, so the guys responded really well considering how big this game was.”
Taylor scored only four points in the win but had five rebounds, five assists and six steals for the Eagles.
— Contact Kevin Trudgeon at email@example.comFollow on Twitter @WinStarSports1