SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The team used to the spotlight took a bow on Saturday afternoon, but ultimately did it on defense.George Washington turned back five Hurricane possessions in the final minute to hold onto a 51-50 victory in the Mountain State Athletic Conference boys consolation game at the South Charleston Community Center.Cameron Hoston's rebound goal with exactly a minute left put the Patriots (16-4) up for good in a back-and-forth game that featured 17 lead changes.Hurricane (15-5), playing in its first Night of Champions contest, had five chances to regain the lead after that, but each proved fruitless.
"To be honest, every single game for us has been like that,'' said Luke Eddy, GW's all-state guard and lone returning starter. "We don't win games by more than 10 points."It's good we got a Night of Champions win with this team. I've been through it before, but most of these kids are new to it. They're going to be happy.''The Patriots won back-to-back MSAC crowns in 2010-11 at the Community Center and have played in two straight Class AAA state tournament title games at the Civic Center.Eddy paced GW with 16 points and 11 rebounds, but shot an uncharacteristic 5 of 19 from the floor and missed three free throws in the final 2:55. Dominik King added 10 points for the Patriots.Hurricane held leads as large as seven points in the second half and was still up 50-45 but went scoreless over the final 4:07.After Hoston's board-crashing rebound goal with a minute left, the Redskins' five possessions resulted in four missed shots and a turnover. They even got two chances in the waning seconds.After Rasaan Harris fired a pass over the head of Henry Sorsaia under the basket with 3.8 seconds left, GW attempted to inbound. Eddy was called for pushing off on Harris, and the foul returned the ball to the Redskins under their own goal with no time going off the clock.Hurricane's Trey Dawson couldn't find anyone close to inbound to, and had to heave it to Harris near midcourt. All he could manage was an off-line 25-footer at the buzzer."We couldn't put the ball in the hole,'' said Harris, who approached a triple-double with 15 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists. "We had spurts where we couldn't even get any shot up down the stretch. You can't have empty possessions, and it came back to haunt us.''GW coach Rick Greene was pleased with his team's mental toughness."Mentally, it's hard to make that [last] stop,'' he said, "because you've made the stop that you probably think has won the game - at least we'd get Luke to the line. Then they get the charge call. I'm proud of the kids as much as anything to focus and concentrate and get that last stop.''
Cai Carena came off the bench to grab 11 rebounds and help GW to a 42-40 edge off the boards. Sorsaia donated 17 points and 11 rebounds for Hurricane.Harris felt the Redskins performed admirably on the big stage, at least until the final moments."You have to have constructive criticism to get better,'' he said, "but we take a lot of good things out of it. For our guys, our first time being here, I think we were mentally and physically ready. We knew what we wanted to do. We just didn't get the job done tonight.''Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or firstname.lastname@example.org.