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Prep Boys Basketball: Seniors get Indians back on even keel
BY STEVE FRANZELLO
THE FREE LANCE-STAR
With just three players back from last season, the Stafford Indians are just beginning to establish their identity under second-year coach Danny Tryon.
In Friday night’s home opener against Colonial Forge, they made some major progress in the right direction.
Paced by the play of their three senior captains, the Indians built an early lead against the Eagles and then made it stand up for a 65–55 Commonwealth District victory.
The win evened Stafford’s record at 1–1 and gave Tryon’s squad a boost of confidence after dropping its season opener 10 days ago.
“It’s good to get a win,” said Tryon. “What really impressed me was our ability to put a team away. Last year if we led by four or five points, it was a game. But tonight, we increased our lead to double digits.”
Senior guards Da’Shawn Harris and Ryan Jones and senior forward Evan Greening all played key roles in the Indians’ success.
Harris scored a game-high 15 points and added five steals and several nifty assists. His biggest contribution came with 1:50 left in the fourth quarter, when Stafford was clinging to a 55–49 lead.
Harris dribbled just inside the foul line and calmly buried a 12-foot jump shot to help thwart a late comeback by the Eagles, who had seen the Indians lead grow to as many as 11 points in the closing minutes.
“[Harris] is one of the best pull-up jump shooters in our conference,” Tryon said. “He’s so unselfish, but at 6–2 and with his vertical, we really need for him to take that shot. Tonight it was huge.”
Jones and Greening were key contributors to the Indians’ victory, as well. Jones scored eight of his 13 points in the final minute when he went to the line and converted all of his attempts.
“We had some really good practices this weekend,” Jones said. “It was great to get back out here and play after such a long layoff.”
Greening made his presence felt under the boards with his hustling play. He scored 14 points and grabbed six rebounds to keep the Indians competitive against the Eagles’ athletic front line led by Ignacio Alleyne.
Alleyne was a force inside with 12 points, 11 rebounds and a pair of blocked shots. He was joined in double figures by hardworking Gary Jennings (15 points) and all-district returnee Marco Haskins (11 points).
The Eagles (1–2. 1–1) never led in the game, but trimmed the Indians’ lead to two points on several occasions.
After trailing by four at halftime, they used a 10–4 run at the end of the third quarter to cut the deficit to 38–36, but that was as close as they could get.
“We turned the ball over 16 times in the first half,” said Colonial Forge coach Jason John. “You just can’t do that and win. We have to work on valuing possession of the ball and keep battling.”
The Eagles’ high turnover rate was a big factor in helping Stafford establish its early momentum. Another factor was the play of two Indian underclassmen, Colt Steigerwald and Brandon Brown.
Steigerwald netted 12 points in his first varsity start, while Brown added eight points and a strong showing on defense.
“We have an athletic team and we’ve got some new players,” Harris said. “But we’re getting to know each other really well.”
Colonial Forge 10 12 14 19 — 55
Stafford 16 10 12 27 — 65
Colonial Forge (1–2, 1–1): DeMarious Quick 4, Marco Haskins 11, Ignacio Alleyne 12, Rob Loving 0, Jalen Frazier 2, T.J. Flood 3, Gary Jennings 15, Austin Hall 0, Winston Burgess 8. Totals: 22 11-14 55.
Stafford (1–1, 1–1)): Brandon Brown 8, Evan Greening 14, Da’Shawn Harris 16, Ryan Jones 13, Dylan Lane 0, Devantae Mitchell 0, Jalen Nembhard 2, Trey Spindel 0, Colt Steigerwald 12, R.C. Stephens III 0. Totals: 25 12-18 65.
Three-point goals: Colonial Forge 0. Stafford 3 (B. Brown 2, R. Jones).
Steve Franzello: 540/374-5440