Just how important was George Washington’s sectional final victory last week over Capital?
It became obvious Tuesday night on The Hill. For one thing, the Patriots were playing in their gym instead of at Beckley; for another, they thumped Princeton 76-53 to get to the state tournament.
GW earned the third seed and will play sixth-seeded Huntington at 7:15 Thursday. Capital was dismissed Tuesday night by Woodrow Wilson in the other Class AAA Region 3 co-final.
The Patriots (20-3) were pushed by the Tigers (14-10) for the first two and a half quarters, leading just 50-44 after 3-point goals by Princeton’s C.J. Wilborn and Cade Fix. At that point, the Tigers had hit seven 3-pointers and looked for more.
But the Patriots had other ideas, scoring the final seven points of the third quarter and the first nine of the fourth. At 66-44 with 6:32 left, the Tigers were sapped, snapped and zapped.
“I think we just kept playing,” said GW coach Rick Greene. “Credit to Princeton and Ernie [Gilliard, the Tigers’ coach], they came in ready to go and I think they hit a ton of shots. And then they started missing a couple of shots, which is only natural, and we got our transition going and got some buckets, then our kids picked up the defense even better.
“I just thought we hit that spurt where we were attacking the rim better and defending on the other end better.”
Justin Phillips led the GW barrage with 22 points, hitting 9 of 17 from the floor with a pair of 3-pointers. Bunky Brown added 14 points and Matthew Cook had 13. Fix led the Tigers with 16 points, with Drew Hopkins and Wilborn each adding 12.
All of Wilborn’s points came on 3-pointers, as he hit 4 of 5. Fix had 4 of 9, and the Tigers went 9 of 19 from long range.
Princeton’s only lead was 3-2, and it last tied the game at 15 on an Ethan Parsons layup. But the Tigers kept scratching and trailed just 22-18 at the end of the first quarter and 41-34 at halftime.
Eventually, the junior-dominated Tigers succumbed to the more experienced, bigger Patriots. During the run, Parkersburg South hit three 3-point goals and Anthony Clendenin converted a three-point play, and the Tigers went 0 for 3 with four turnovers and zero offensive rebounds.
Simply put, it was a physical advantage for the home team.
“It [also] was an obvious factor in our [sectional] loss to Woodrow [Wilson],” Gilliard said. “We got beat on the boards pretty bad. And I think we were back in the [GW] game [trailing 47-41], and then they turned it up a bit on the physical play in terms of hitting the boards, and we didn’t match that.”