By Owen Gotimer
Leesburg (January 13, 2016) — For just the second time in Tuscarora High School history, the Huskies boys basketball team knocked off the Stone Bridge High School Bulldogs, 91-70, in a Conference 14 match up in Leesburg on January 12. McDonald’s All-American Game nominee and senior forward Kyle Copeland – who scored 30 points and grabbed six rebounds in front of his home crowd – paved the way for the first place Huskies.
“He’s a hard worker. He’s not selfish. He has the ability to do more offensively, but he still shares the basketball,” Tuscarora head coach Al Smith said. “This year especially, he brings a level of leadership we haven’t had before. This particular group this year as a whole – we have nine seniors on our roster – has a great amount of team chemistry and leadership.”
After an early Stone Bridge (0-2, 9-4) lead, the experienced Tuscarora (2-0, 14-1) squad opted to move into a man-to-man defense which put more pressure on ball handlers in an attempt to keep the ball out of the paint.
“Defensively, we started applying a little pressure and we started giving some things up I didn’t like so we went to man-to-man,” Smith said. “They are very good getting to the rim. They run a lot of dribble-handoff and motion in their offense. Our whole thought process going into the game was to keep them from penetrating and kicking back out to their shooters.”
While the Huskies planned to keep the Bulldogs from penetrating the lane, Stone Bridge senior forward Colin Jachimowski had other plans as he dropped a game-high 32 points while securing eight boards.
“I think he’s the best player in the league,” Stone Bridge head coach Corey Stitzel said. “It’s not that he had 32, it’s that he fought on every play whether the game was 0-0 or we were down 30. He fought. He works hard, he gives great effort and he deserves it. I’m a big believer in basketball karma, the kid’s got it and he’s getting rewarded for it.”
Jachimowski was one of the few bright spots for the Bulldogs – who are a bit depleted without starting senior forward Nick Barnes who missed the game with an injury.
“Obviously, he’s a second team all-state player who can defend and rebound, but at the same time, injuries happen. That’s part of the game and other guys have to step up,” Stitzel said. “We’re not responding well to it and that’s on me. I have to coach better and get these guys to play better. We’ll watch the film and get a game plan to see what we’re going to do going forward.”
Stitzel made it clear that Barnes’ injury is not an excuse and that his team needs to reignite their desire to win games.
“[Tuscarora] played with energy and they had fight. I can’t really say we fought. We definitely had one kid out there fighting,” Stitzel said. “I told my team this in October and I’ll say it again ‘Everybody wants to beat us. We have a guy out, we got some different things going on, and we need to raise our level.’ We didn’t raise our level tonight. Give Tuscarora tons of credit: they played well, they had tons of energy, they made shots. You go on the road and you don’t have energy and you don’t defend, you’re going to get beat. You saw the result.”
The result was a showdown between two of the top scorers in the county, and while Jachimowski dropped two more buckets than Copeland, Copeland’s Huskies came out on top.
“The thing is we have a lot of chemistry as a team and we all believe in each other. We believe we can play all eleven guys in any game at any point,” Copeland said. “We’re a more athletic team this year and we don’t really need the breaks we needed last year because we have the athleticism. On a team full of seniors, we really took it in our hands to push ourselves this year and make a run at the state championship.”
Tuscarora’s rock star senior class – headlined by Copeland and guards Dalaynte Blaylock, Jamel Howard and Daniel Smith – saw support from its few underclassmen including junior forward Tique Yarbrough – who scored 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting. Yarbrough and Blaylock teamed up big time in the third quarter as Yarbrough scored 8 of his 18 points on four of Blaylock’s game-high five assists.
“For us it was just taking care of the basketball and sharing the basketball looking for our guys,” Smith said. “We want to push the ball all the time, and we want to pressure all the time. That’s just how we want to play.”
The Huskies last win against the Bulldogs came almost two years ago when Blaylock, Copeland and Smith combined for 19 points as opposed to their 50 points on Tuesday night.
“This was more of a statement game,” Copeland said. “We’re just trying to come out here and dominate our conference and make a point in the VHSL 5A class about how good we are.”
Tuscarora Huskies Stats
Kyle Copeland 30 points, 6 rebounds, 2 steals, 3-for-4 free throws
Tique Yarbrough 18 points, 4 rebounds, 1 steal, 3 blocked shots, 1 assist, 2-for-4 free throws
Daniel Smith 12 points, 4 rebounds, 3 steals, 1 blocked shot, 1 assist
Jamel Howard 9 points, 3 rebounds, 1 blocked shot, 1 assist, 1-for-2 free throws
Dalaynte Blaylock 8 points, 9 rebounds, 1 blocked shot, 5 assists, 2-for-4 free throws
Alex Bailey 5 points, 1 rebound, 3 assists, 1-for-2 free throws
George Cross 4 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists
Ryan Leisure 2 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist
Rory Jones 2 points, 1 steal
Taj Malave-Neely 1 point, 1 rebound, 1-for-2 free throws
91 points, 36 rebounds, 12 turnovers, 7 steals, 14 assists, 6 blocked shots, 10-for-18 free throws
Stone Bridge Bulldogs Stats
Colin Jachimowski 32 points, 8 rebounds, 1 steal, 2-for-3 free throws
Branden Curry 16 points, 3 steals, 2 assists, 5-for-6 free throws
Evan Buckley 7 points, 7 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 assists, 2-for-2 free throws
Kellis Martin 6 points, 4 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 assist
Ben Kling 5 points, 3 rebounds, 3 steals, 1 assist, 2-for-2 free throws
Shugar Carman 4 points, 7 rebounds, 1 steal, 2-for-2 free throws
John Bohanon 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 0-for-1 free throw
70 points, 31 rebounds, 8 turnovers, 11 steals, 7 assists, 13-for-16 free throws