With first place in the Patriot District on the line, the Hayfield boys basketball team proved they wanted it more last night, outshooting T.C. Williams early, then outhustling the Titans late for a 73-54 victory at Hayfield.
The Hawks, who were led by senior forward Joe Hardin's 22 points and seven rebounds, improved to 8-5, 4-0 in the district. T.C. Williams, which got 10 points from senior guard Anthony Campbell and 10 rebounds from junior forward Marcus Lynn, fell to 9-5, 4-1.
"This was an important win," said Hayfield senior guard Russell Lee, who scored 12 points despite fighting the flu. "These are the kinds of games that are really big at the end of the season."
Hayfield-T.C. Williams games are more than just the renewal of an Alexandria rivalry. Since 1995, the teams have had a virtual lock on the district title--the Hawks have won it three times in that span; the Titans twice. If last night's result was a harbinger, things are looking good for Hayfield, which dominated from the outset.
Hayfield took advantage of a full-court press to go up 32-22 at halftime, employing constant pressure to force the Titans into turnovers and rushed shots.
The Hawks controlled the second half, leading by as many as 21 points. T.C. Williams pulled within 61-50 midway through the final quarter, but Hayfield made 9 of 10 free throws down the stretch to secure the victory.
"The key tonight was our pressure," Hayfield Coach Brian Metress said. "It seemed to bother them a whole lot."
"Pressure is our game," Lee said. "We want to force the other team into making bad decisions. That's how we get our runs."
The full-court press is a new wrinkle for the Hawks, who struggled defensively early in the season. They fell to Lee, Chantilly, South Lakes and Phoebus (Hampton, Va.)--all strong teams--and Metress said the defense let down in all those losses. So the coach decided to start pressuring the ball once district play started.
So far, it's worked like a charm.
Notes: Last night's junior varsity and varsity games were delayed by more than an hour because the T.C. Williams buses got held up in slow-moving traffic due to icy roads.