For the third straight season, Tabb High’s boys basketball team found themselves playing for a shot at the Region I Division 4 championship. And for the third straight year, disappointment loomed over the top-seeded Tigers after King George marched into their gym and walked out with a 59-49 victory and the tournament championship.
“Last night we looked like a million dollars and tonight we looked like we hadn’t seen a basketball,” Tabb head coach Doug Baggett said after the game. “Tonight just wasn’t a good night; we didn’t play well.”
Baggett was frustrated, he said, with what he called his inability to prepare and motivate his team for both the regional and district tournament championship games.
“I take the blame,” Baggett said. “I told the kids just point the finger at me because I’ve obviously done something wrong along the way. The two worst halves of basketball we played all season were the first halves of tonight’s game and district championship against Grafton.”
Tabb (21-7) will travel to Fairfax next weekend for the first round of the state tournament and will face the winner of tonight’s Region II championship game between Potomac Falls and Liberty-Bealton. King George (21-6) will take on the loser of that game at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Siegel Center.
The Foxes used a 10-0 run that stretched over the first and second quarters to take a 21-12 lead.
After a quiet first period, Bay Rivers Player of the Year Shaquille Rodney came alive in the second. Rodney, matching King George’s physicality in the paint, scored seven points in the quarter to lead a 13-2 Tiger run that gave Tabb their first lead of the game 25-24.
Just as the second quarter buzzer sounded, Foxes’ star DJ Lewis found Derrick Joines in the paint, capping off a 10-0 King George run to close the half.
“Our whole group started slow,” Baggett said. “That first half was the worst first half we played all year.”
Once again, Rodney, who scored a game-high 18 points, put the Tigers on his back. On three different possessions, Rodney was fouled on layups off offensive rebounds. He scored eight points over a six-minute spurt in which Tabb closed the deficit to three, 38-35.
King George didn’t score a point in the second half until the 2:29 mark in the third quarter. But they led 40-35 heading into the final period and went 10-12 from the free throw line to close out the game. Point guard Wayne Wyatt was a perfect 6-6 in the quarter.
Despite pitiful numbers on paper, (16-51 from the field, 24 turnovers) Tabb still had chances down the stretch.
“It’s a matter of being ready, and we didn’t execute at all,” Baggett said. “We did absolutely nothing in any of our offenses right and that was the big key.
“We can shoot poorly from the free throw line and poorly from the field, but if we execute we give ourselves a shot.”
Rodney’s 18 points led all scorers. Allen James finished with eight for Tabb.
The Foxes got a well-balanced scoring effort as Wyatt and Lewis both netted 13 points. Matt Mohr chipped in nine.
KING GEORGE (21-6) – 17 17 6 19 – 59
TABB (21-7) – 12 13 10 14 – 49
King George – Wyatt 13, Monroe 8, Lewis 13, Mohr 8, Carroll 9, Joines 2, Baylor 6
Tabb – Corbett 4, Cole 3, Rodney 18, McCormick 2, James 12, Kegelman 2, Nelson 8