Still unbeaten, Patriots in Charleston as No. 1 seed
Unbeaten Washington unleashed its usual cast of impressive scorers, rebounders and steals artists when it feasted on another team unable to do much of anything against its overall quickness and swarming defense.
It was Elkins this time. And though the Tigers had a team-wide effort, they were powerless to contain the Patriots’ quicksilver dominance.
Washington drowned the Tigers, 102-60, winning the big-school Region II championship and a place in the Class AAA state tournament with withering spurts of points and still another helpful force from its long roster of seniors.
With center Kendell Smith in some first-half foul trouble, Washington coach Don Bullett brought in Derrick Brunson to blend with his other high-octane players.
Brunson scored a seamless seven points, had three rebounds and two steals in a first half where Washington scored 58 points with the rat-a-tat-tat rapidity of a woodpecker hammering a tree trunk. Entering again from the bench in the second half, Brunson finished an 11-point scoring performance and was as much a part of the Washington crown of stars as Josh Dudley (21 points, seven rebounds, five assists), Jerome Jones (18 points, six rebounds), Maleke Jones (14 points, five steals), Dominique Newman (12 points, six steals) and Smith (12 points, five rebounds).
When the Patriots initiated their pressure defense, it helped close out a 33-point first quarter. Against Elkins, the quick-handed Patriots’ fullcourt defense was increased in heated increments. Layups and inside scoring from the full host of whippet-lean Patriot seniors came so quickly it was if Elkins could not take a quiet breath.
Dudley and Jerome Jones had been the scoring catalysts in the first-half destruction of Elkins.
Of the Tigers’ 31 points, fully 18 of them came on long-range three-pointers.
The inside-scoring script was basically unchanged in the third period, an eight-minute segment where the Patriots fled from the defensive end of the floor with such force that they counted another 31 points, assuming command with an 89-45 lead.
Most of the fourth quarter held the crowd on edge as it tried to will the Washington deep reserves to the 100-point mark. Finally, after four minutes of struggle, it happened, Damarie Stewart hit his perimeter jumper.
In Charleston as the state tournament’s No. 1 seed, the Patriots will carry their quality free throw shooting, seven useful scorers, a team-wide focus on defense and rebounding and the experience of playing in last year’s state event.
Against out-manned Elkins, it was Brunson whose presence and contributions were as important as anybody’s.