Patriots literally run away from Hedgesville
The hand-lettered sign on the door entering Washington’s gym read “Soldout”.
Inside, the crowd at the Sectional tournament championship game was witnessing the team (Washington) with quick and defensive-minded player literally running away and leaving the other side (Hedgesville) and its demonstrative coach in its dust.
Unbeaten Washington (23-0) was way better, having the quick feet and quicker hands of point guard Dominique Newman as its catalyst/leader to promote the 76-45 demolition of the Eagles.
Washington’s thirst for defense and the steady stream of stolen passes and deflected dribbles the Patriots produced were equaled only by its penchant to claim almost every defensive rebound the missed Hedgesville shot-attempts were leaving.
Overall player quickness and attention to defense easily trumped Hedgesville’s sideline histrionics and theatrics. The lop-sided win was Washington’s third this season over Hedgesville, with only one of the games being close. Washington’s 31-point victory earned it a Class AAA, Region II game, pairing it against Elkins, the Section 2 runner-up and loser there to Lewis County.
Should the Patriots defeat the Tigers, who visited Washington this past Tuesday, they will have earned a second consecutive state tournament berth next week in Charleston.
Early in the second quarter, when the game was close, Washington went on 12-0 scoring race past the retreating Eagles. After Newman had made three free throws, a three-pointer, and a fast break layup in that move, the Patriot lead had swelled to 30-16.
The withering scoring blitz left the Eagles a little slump-shouldered and perplexed as they cast about for answers that weren’t coming.
From then on, Washington continually disrupted Hedgesville’s offense with break-out steals and deflections. The Eagles could not rely on any help from offensive rebounds because in the first 28 minutes of the 32-minute game thay had only three of them.
In fact, the first Washington defensive rebound had led to a fastbreak layup at the other end.
Washington gave the Eagles little chance. The Patriots added quality free throw shooting to their list of positives that already included rebounding superiority where Maleke Jones, Jerome Jones, and Josh Dudley had a virtual monopoly, their ready attention to defense, the inside scoring of Kendell Smith and control of the tempo against the oft-seen, clock-draining tendencies of the Eagles.
After the Patriots had outscored the Eagles, 23-10, in the second quarter, their lead at the half was 40-23.
Foul trouble had not visited the Patriots. Newman had been tagged with a foul in the first minute but that was the only one he had in all of the opening half.
Washington would later outscore the Eagles, 22-8, in the fourth quarter, where the last four minutes were played with wholesale substitutions from both sides. Hedgesville removed all of its top seven players after two technical fouls were whistled against it following an elbowing incident early in the last period.
As it had all season long, the large crowd saw Washington win again.
It was another undefeated step toward the Class AAA state tournament where the Patriots would be the No. 1 seed in an eight team field.
And it was a satisfying conclusion to a three-game sweep of Hedgesville, giving the Patriots the school’s first-ever Sectional championship.