CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Any other coach's heart may have jumped through his chest.Despite trailing the majority of the first half and the game skin-tight in the closing minutes, Washington coach Don Bullett wasn't ready to push the panic button. Bullett and his team have grown accustomed to close games this season, so his belief never wavered when the game was a tossup as the clock approached zero.After Thursday's 60-56 Class AAA quarterfinal win over Parkersburg South, Washington can probably add a few more believers to the list."The game got close in the end, but we have been in some close games this year," Bullet said. "We have played a pretty nice schedule. We have played Martinsburg three times. We beat Stonewall Jackson from Virginia who had a really good team and we have played Morgantown. We felt like our schedule definitely prepared us for today's contest."
One of the reasons Bullett never panicked was junior point guard Dominique Newman, who led Washington with 17 points."Dominique does a lot," Bullett said. "He is quick, fast and he can put the ball on the floor and do a lot of things when he gets to the basket. If you leave him open, he can also hit the 3. He does a good job penetrating and pulling up."He's also good on defense. He led our whole area in steals with 135."Newman showed a humorous side when he corrected Bullett."Actually, it was 137 steals," Newman joked.
Washington will face No. 1 seed Martinsburg (24-2) for a fourth time this year in the semifinals at 5:30 p.m. today. The Patriots lost the earlier two meetings in January by scores of 72-58 and 61-42, then lost 61-55 in the sectionals."We played them really tough in the sectionals," Bullett said. "Earlier in the season, they beat us by 14 and 19 points. That was earlier in the season, though. We have matured more. We are a lot more patient on offense."[Today], we are going to have to continue to be patient. If we can keep the game in the 40s and 50s then I think we have a chance."Washington guards Kendell Smith and Keldon Bell notched double-doubles against South. Bell finished with 16 points and 17 rebounds while Smith scored 11 points and pulled down 11 boards. Forward Jerome Jones finished one point shy of a double-double with nine points and 12 rebounds as Washington outrebounded South 49-34.With 26 seconds left, South's Dylan Rippeto nailed a 3-pointer to tie the game at 56. Washington quickly inbounded and Newman took the ball the length of the court and made a layup."After they hit the 3, I knew they were excited," Newman said. "But, I knew they weren't going to get back immediately and I just took advantage of that."
On the ensuing possession, South's Tyler Bolen was fouled on his drive to the basket. Bolen misfired on both free throws and Smith secured the rebound and victory for Washington.Wes Mitchem led South with 20 points and nine rebounds but injured his ankle with five minutes left in the game. Mitchem attempted to come back after being heavily taped but couldn't finish."Wes came to us and said, 'Coach, I'm going to hurt us if I stay out there because I can't jump,'" said South coach Mike Fallon. "That took a lot out of him. That tells you what type of young man he is to be able to do that because a lot of kids would go out there and try to do it."