The Hopewell girls basketball team was unable to defend its 2009 Bojangles Shootout championship, held at Bojangles’ Coliseum, Dec. 28-30. The Titans defeated South Point and Concord High, but fell in the second round to I-MECK 4A conference rival Mallard Creek, 51-46.
The loss to the Mavericks didn’t count toward the Titans’ conference record, but it ended Hopewell’s streak of nine consecutive victories to start the season. The defeat could also have implications at the end of the season. Hopewell forward Hannah Early said after the game that her coach, Gary Richmond, informed players after the game that the tournament loss could be used as a tiebreaker if the Titans and Mavericks split their I-MECK 4A schedule and finish tied in the league standings.
“It’s (tough) that we lost to Mallard Creek but it’s good that it doesn’t count toward our conference record,” said Early. “The problem is that if it comes down to a tie in the conference, our coach said they’ll take this game.”
Early also pointed out the positive of losing to the Mavericks in a tournament setting. The game allowed the Titans a chance to warm up against an explosive conference opponent without the price of a league loss. The Titans looked overwhelmed early by the Mavericks’ full court pressure and trailed by 11 points entering the fourth quarter. Early finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds, while Hunter Meakin led all Titans with 12 points, but it was not enough to catch the Mavericks late in the game.
“It was like black and white,” said Early. “We had intensity in the fourth quarter, but it was like two different teams playing in the first three quarters and the final quarter. They’re really athletic and we had a ton of turnovers, but once we started to not be afraid of how fast and athletic they are, they started to turn the ball over and we would get run outs. But by then we were playing catch up and you can’t just stop a good team from scoring.”
On Jan. 4, the Titans returned to I-MECK 4A play with a 67-29 smashing of Mooresville High at home. A rematch with the Mavericks is set for Friday, Jan. 7 at Mallard Creek.