NEWPORT NEWS — Hampton coach Eric Brown was tempted. Cyonte Melvin sat a few feet away on the bench looking no worse for wear to the casual observer. Yet he had a hip pointer, and the Crabbers' coaches had decided not to play him in the Peninsula District semifinals or final.
For the first round of the Eastern Region, Melvin was good to go. And with his team looking stagnant early, he helped revive things with a career-high 23 points as Hampton rolled past Norview 78-52 Monday night at Woodside.
"We missed him big-time," Brown said. "Brandon Sapp stepped up in the tournament, but Cyonte is a big guard who attacks, shoots and rebounds well. But we were committed to not playing him in the tournament.
"We were looking at the big picture. He'll be a big part of this stretch run and, of course, next year. Then it'll be his team."
A junior on a roster comprised primarily of seniors, Melvin went 9-of-14 from the field and 4-of-4 from the free-throw line. He had 11 points in the fourth quarter as the Crabbers (21-6) pulled away.
"My job is to play defense, make free throws, and score when I'm able to score," Melvin said. "Whatever I can do to help the team."
After spending his sophomore year in Georgia with his father, Melvin returned to Hampton and scored 19 points in his first game. He meshed well with the veteran lineup led by seniors Anthony Barber and Jordan Baker.
In the Peninsula District quarterfinals against Menchville, Melvin injured his hip. He dressed but didn't play against Phoebus in the semifinals and Kecoughtan in the final.
So why dress him if there was no chance of playing him?
"We didn't want the other team to know," Brown said.
Hampton, which will play Landstown in the quarterfinals at about 8 Wednesday night, never trailed. But Norview (9-16) hung around for longer than most expected. The Crabbers' lead was 38-33 after consecutive 3-pointers by Stephen Scarbough and Raekwon Johnson.
Hampton answered with a 9-0 run and took a 47-33 lead on Barber's coast-to-coast drive with 2:29 left in the third. Melvin opened the final period with a 3-pointer from the left corner, and the Crabbers rolled from there.
Hampton's players hadn't forgotten last year's regional opener, in which they needed a last-second free throw to beat Bayside.
"Oh, yeah, that was huge," Brown said. "We told them, this is when the season is on the line. Don't go out there thinking you've been anointed."
NORVIEW (9-16): Ricks 6, Madison 7, Thomas 10, Brown 2, Gadson 2, Scarbough 11, R. Johnson 14. Totals: 20 9-19 52.
HAMPTON (21-6): Baker 10, Moore 4, Barber 23, Perry 10, Royal 6, Melvin 23, Benford 2. Totals: 27 22-33 78.
3-point goals: Norview 3 (Madison, Scarbough, R. Johnson), Hampton 2 (Baker, Melvin).
Woodside girls 59, Booker T. 36
They didn't look like the defending regional champions, but the Wolverines had enough behind Adrienne Motley's 33 points to hold off the scrappy Bookers.
The Wolverines (25-1) will play Grassfield, the Southeastern District's third seed, in the quarterfinals at 2 p.m. Thursday at Scope.
BOOKER T. (8-11): Depano 15, Beasley 5, Williams 13, Jones 3. Totals 12 7-12 36.
WOODSIDE (25-1): Motley 33, Curtis 2, Fitzgerald 2, Bell 7, Simms 2, Washington 11, Kelly 2. Totals: 19 21-29 59.
3-point goals: Booker T. 5 (Depano 3, Beasley, Jones).Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun