Winfield’s boys basketball team played fairly well Wednesday morning without senior point guard and leader Braeden McGrew, who had to sit out a long stretch in the second quarter with two personal fouls.
But the Generals like it a lot better when McGrew is on the floor, and they were certainly in good hands in the second half.
McGrew scored 15 of his 16 points in the second half and dished out a total of 12 assists as Winfield held on for a 68-65 victory against No. 3 seed Westside in the Class AA state quarterfinals at the Charleston Civic Center.
The win sends the sixth-seeded Generals (19-7) into Friday’s 9:30 a.m. semifinal against Cardinal Conference rival Chapmanville (25-1), the No. 2 seed.
McGrew teamed up with sophomore reserve Sean Hanshaw for three straight transition baskets to give the Generals some cushion down the stretch. In the span of 58 seconds, those three goals boosted Winfield’s lead to 64-55 inside the two-minute mark.
Not only did McGrew provide the passes, but he did it with a flair – one of them coming behind the back and another between the legs on the dead run.
“I wasn’t acting, just reacting,’’ McGrew said. “It wasn’t really planned. But that stretch was really clutch and crucial to us winning. I’m glad it happened.’’
Still, the Generals had to survive a few anxious moments near the end. They missed two free throws in the final minute, giving the Renegades (20-6) a glimmer of hope to force overtime.
Corey Hatfield’s three-point play with 17 seconds remaining brought Westside within 68-65 and the Renegades brought defensive pressure. Winfield got the ball downfloor and Huff looked to have a layup to seal the game, but it missed and Elijah Puett rebounded for Westside.
The Renegades worked the ball to the 6-foot-7 Hatfield in the right corner for a wide-open look at a 3-pointer, but it kicked off the rim. Hanshaw batted the ball to midcourt as the buzzer sounded to end the game.
The undersized Huff was certainly a pillar of strength underneath for the Generals with 12 points, seven rebounds and some tough defense. Christian Frye scored 13 points for Winfield and nailed three of his team’s eight 3-pointers, and Bryant Moore came off the bench to provide three more.
“In big games, we always have someone step up off the bench,’’ said Winfield coach Chris Stephens. “Moore and Hanshaw helped these guys today, hitting crucial shots and getting good rebounds.’’
Winfield held a 39-32 edge off the boards against the taller Renegades, a fact that didn’t go unnoticed by Westside coach Shawn Jenkins.
“They outrebounded us,’’ Jenkins said, “and they should never outrebound us. I don’t think we played with very good effort today, and we always preach that effort wins ballgames. Seventy-five percent of the time, I don’t think our effort was very good.
“[Winfield] settled in and I never felt like we did. We never felt comfortable in the entire game. It never felt like we got in a rhythm.’’
As long as McGrew was running the show, Winfield’s offense was humming along pretty well. The team’s leading scorer and floor leader, McGrew picked up his second foul with 6:03 left before halftime with Westside ahead 18-17.
Stephens allowed McGrew to play for about another minute, but subbed for him with the Generals ahead 22-21 and a little more than five minutes left to halftime. All things considered, Winfield was fortunate to be down just 32-29 at halftime.
“Many teams are not able to pressure us very much,’’ Stephens said, “because [McGrew] can do so much with the ball. He’s very good in transition. Even after being in foul trouble, he came out with a huge second half.’’
Besides scoring all but one of his team-high 16 points in the second half, McGrew handed out six more assists, stole the ball twice and converted nine of 10 free throws following halftime.
McGrew also helped settle down his teammates after Winfield fell behind 7-0 at the outset, missing its first three shots and turning the ball over three times in the first 31/2 minutes.
“I just didn’t want them to think anything was wrong,’’ McGrew said. “We had three quarters of play and half the first quarter [left]. I was trying to be a positive leader the whole game.’’
Shane Jenkins, son of the Westside coach, led the Renegades with 18 points. Hatfield added 13 and Jacob Ells 10.
When Winfield tangles with Chapmanville on Friday, Tigers coach Brad Napier expects a different kind of game than the one played during the regular season, as Chapmanville won 81-53 at home on Jan. 23.
“I think they’ve been playing their best basketball the last couple weeks,’’ Napier said. “They’re a really dangerous team that can shoot the basketball and get hot. They can come down and hit three, four 3s in a row and score in bunches.’’