Inside the PD: After slow start, Denbigh beginning to come along

For Denbigh’s boys basketball team, less has turned out to be better.
In the early weeks of the season, Patriots coach Demetrius “Duke” Phipps was playing pretty much his entire roster in hopes of finding the right rotation. And, predictably, the team limped along and went into the New Year with a record of 2-7 overall, 1-5 in the district.
Over the last few games, Phipps has settled on a seven- or eight-man group, and Denbigh is getting better. The Patriots followed Saturday’s respectable loss to Kecoughtan, in which they led by one early in the fourth quarter, with a 47-46 win over Menchville Tuesday night.
“We were playing 12 or 13 guys early, and that’s too many to get any consistency when you’re bringing guys in and out all the time,” Phipps said. “We have a good rotation now and they’re playing together.
“They know what I expect from them and everything is sinking in. They know they can be competitive and play with teams. We were in that game against Kecoughtan in the fourth quarter. They guys are playing hard now.”
The win pushed Denbigh into a tie with Warwick for eighth place in the PD standings. Only eight teams will make the district tournament.
Oh, and consider this: Denbigh beat Menchville Tuesday night. Menchville had beaten Bethel the previous week. And Bethel beat Hampton Tuesday night. FWIW.
Last March, clutch free throws helped carry Hampton to the Group AAA state championship. In the championship game against Petersburg, for example, the Crabbers went 9-for-11 from the line in the second half.
But this season, free throws are costing Hampton games. In losing two in a row for the first time since the 2010-11 season, the Crabbers were a combined 17-of-36 from the stripe.
Hampton shot 8-of-16 in a two-point overtime loss to Bethel Tuesday night and 9-20 in a three-point loss to Abraham Lincoln (N.Y.) on Saturday.
“I’ve had teams that shot really well, and I’ve had some that struggled over periods of time,” Crabber coach Walter Brower Sr. said. “It works itself out. We’ll be fine by the time we get to the district tournament. It might be sooner because we’ll continue to work on it every day.”