Tidewater Academy sprints to playoff victory

Published 11:03 pm Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Tidewater Academy wasn’t messing around Wednesday night.

The Warriors used a scorching offense in the first half to drop Hampton Christian 70-55 in the quarterfinals of the Virginia Independent Schools Division III basketball tournament.

TA will play Evangel Christian or North Cross in the semifinals at noon Friday at Virginia State University in Ettrick.

After losing to Steward School in the Virginia Commonwealth Conference tournament Saturday night, the Warriors left no question who was in charge Wednesday night.

Tidewater came out running on offense, especially Tommie Starkes (17 points in the first half) and Mike Greene (13 in the first half). The Warriors opened a seven-point first quarter lead but really poured it on in the second quarter. After the dust cleared, TA had a 44-24 lead, despite 16 points by Hampton Christian’s Bobby Thomas.

“I thought we played as well in the first half as we’ve played this year,” said Walter Westbrook, Tidewater head coach. “We did a good job of rebounding, and we did a good job of protecting the basketball. We didn’t have many turnovers. All seven of our players that we played contributed in the first half. We came ready to play.”

At the beginning of the second quarter, Greene ripped off five straight points for Tidewater Academy with a bank shot, a free throw and a layup to put the Warriors up 26-17. After a three-pointer by Thomas, Greene and Starkes propelled TA on a nine-point run to put the Warriors up 35-20 with 2:54 to play in the half.

Although the Warriors were not as efficient on offense in the second half, the game was never in question. TA did a good job of stopping Thomas in the second half, holding him to just 6 points.

For Tidewater Academy, Starkes finished with 23 points, Greene added 16, and Casey Rickmond and Austin Westbrook both scored 12.

Coming into the playoffs, Tidewater was the top-ranked Division III team in the state while Hampton Christian was ranked eighth.