Leave it George Washington to look impressive and regressive in the same game.Still, the defending state champion Patriots (18-5) did enough things right Wednesday night to open postseason play with a 66-49 Class AAA sectional victory over visiting Parkersburg South.GW's eighth straight win earns a repeat trip to Parkersburg in the Region 3 Section 1 finals on Friday. Parkersburg beat Capital 76-56 in the other sectional semifinal.Luke Eddy's superior shooting early in the game Wednesday staked GW to a big lead. He finished with 20 points, knocking down 4-of-6 from 3-point range. Dustin Crouser added 15 points, eight rebounds and three steals and Thomas Francke tallied 14 points.
"We took a couple quick shots and let them back in it,'' Eddy said. "We played pretty good in spurts, but we still haven't put a whole game together yet. Maybe we'll do that the next time.''GW, which had split its two previous games against South this season, bolted to a 35-24 lead by halftime and stretched it as high as 15 points late in the third quarter. However, GW squandered much of that lead as seniors Joe Holland and Deandre Price came off the bench red-hot for South.Holland hit his first four shots for South in the third quarter and Price buried a pair of 3s back-to-back to start the fourth quarter and South shaved it to 53-47 with 3:50 left in the game. South got two more possessions to get it closer, but couldn't convert.GW netted 9-of-11 free throws in the final 3:17 to hold it together."We went maybe four, five times and didn't score,'' said GW coach Rick Greene. "We made bad decisions, didn't take good shots, tried to force the ball. At that point, because we were getting stops, if you can score two, three times you'll get a cushion, and even though South is not going to lay down, they're not going to get back in. But sometimes that's high school basketball. I was disappointed in our execution at times.''GW built its early advantage with a nice blend of inside and outside basketball.Low posts Francke and Crouser combined to sink 8-of-11 shots in the first half and combined for 19 points and Eddy knocked down six straight shots - four of them 3s - for 16 points at the break."Some of the adjustments we thought we were making didn't help us in the first quarter,'' said South coach Mike Fallon. "We were kind of overplaying and Francke and Crouser beat us to death on the inside and Eddy was hitting some shots, so they kind of made it difficult for us to guard."We were overplaying in the post, fronting too high. We just got so caught up in what was going on we didn't do the things we talked about all week. As soon as we fronted Crouser, he's so daggone strong . . . he's just a monster in there, he really is.''South (14-9) did some good things itself. The visiting Patriots didn't have a single foul until the 4:28 mark of the second quarter and made their first five shots of the second period. Holland (12 points), Matt Goldsberry (nine) and Price (six) came off the bench and actually outscored South's starters 27-22.However, 14 turnovers, 39.6 percent shooting and a 28-22 rebounding deficit didn't allow South to maintain its late surge. GW shot 61 percent in the first half and 52 percent for the game.
"Even though we had a standing-eight count there [in the second half], we're finishing games,'' Greene said. "We're learning to finish games better than we did early in the season. We're grinding it a little bit more, just being a little tougher.''Parkersburg beat visiting GW 58-53 on Jan. 25.Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or firstname.lastname@example.org