IN A REVERSE of the old saying, Luke Eddy taketh away, but then nearly giveth back.And then in one big swish, he knocketh out the state's No. 1 team.The junior point guard shined on the biggest stage in the final minute of George Washington's 53-51 victory Friday over top-ranked Martinsburg, scoring 20 points and hitting the game-winning shot.For the defending champions, it was a moment every bit as dramatic as the end of last year's AAA final, when officials viewed the monitor and ruled Wheeling Park's Bubby Goodwin's final shot was good for two points instead of three.
Eddy's efforts were front and center for most of the final minute, broken down into three decisive plays.GW had fought its way to a 51-51 tie on a Tino diTrapano free throw with 1:15 left. Martinsburg got the ball over halfcourt and called timeout with 1:07 left.Whatever Bulldog coach Dave Rogers drew up, we'll never know, for Eddy leaped for the inbounds pass from Jalen Lewis and tapped it to himself. For the first time, GW fans truly smelled an upset.Coach Rick Greene called timeout with 37 seconds left. He wanted Eddy to milk the clock before playing for the final shot. To brutally twist another saying, the milk almost spilt in Martinsburg's favor, and left the Patriots crying.
The Bulldogs' Jordan Robinson tapped the ball away, setting up the game's most important "50-50" ball. Eddy gave up 3 inches to the 6-foot-4 Robinson and probably a half-step in speed, but somehow, someway, slid to the ball first. He cradled the rock just enough to call a timeout."That last play's on me," Greene said. "You can do a lot of different things; trying to hold the ball, especially against a team that athletic. But that's how much confidence we have in Luke or the other guards, if they would have stepped out."With that timeout, Greene kept his confidence in the point guard, and it was rewarded. Eddy shook off Robinson and squeezed off a 17-foot jumper, which hit nothing but net.Eddy was downright sheepish about his confidence on the shot - "I really don't know what to say," he said at one point - but his coach and teammates know better. I know better - of his 15 shots at the basket, I didn't see one fired tentatively.
Eddy's performance was no surprise to Rogers."I don't think there's any question he's their best player," Rogers said. "He can shoot it, he can dribble it, he can take you off the drive. They do a good job of setting screens for him. That's why every time he comes off a screen, you've got to have help."Eddy played some as a freshman and was a part-time starter on GW's 2010-11 championship squad, averaging in the low double figures. With a lot of offseason work, Eddy runs the offense full-time and averaged 16 points before Friday.
"He's always been like a gym rat," Greene said. "He's grown up in our camps and he's played AAU. Got a great basketball family - his grandfather was the leading scorer until last year in Parkersburg High School history. His dad, Brian, himself was a very good player."I know the bloodlines, for I know father, grandfather and even an uncle. I met Brian, now principal at Sissonville Middle School, 291/2 years ago at my first fraternity rush party. Brian's younger brother Danny became a three-year football letterman at Virginia Tech.The best intramural basketball strategy at ol' Alpha Tau Omega was simple: Give Brian the ball and let him figure it out. If he passed it to you, you're open and you'd better shoot. More often, he'd shoot it and you'd crash the boards.It's not quite like that at GW, because the supporting cast is a lot better. But I must confess: I was stuck in a middle-age time warp Friday watching Luke Eddy wrench a Class AAA semifinal away from a Martinsburg team Greene admitted was faster and taller."He just loves basketball, and he has a fierce competitive nature, he just really wants to win," Greene said. "And he's grown as a leader, and he's really grown as a point guard. He understands the tempo we need to play at; he had the tempo we needed in all the big games."And he controls what we do, and everybody else feeds off of it."
Something like this could happen tonight or next season, or a few years down the road. As Greene tells it, Luke could get one-upped at the Civic Center one March night."His younger brother, Gus, might be the best in the family," Greene said.Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130 or email@example.com
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