CHARLESTON, W.Va. — George Washington coach Rick Greene has been part of a plethora of state tournaments.
So when Greene’s second-seeded Patriots trailed No. 7 Jefferson by six at halftime of Thursday’s Class AAAA quarterfinal, there was no panic.
“I’m not real big on stats because you can spin them how you want to spin them, but we shot twenty-seven percent and gave up six (points on) putbacks and we’re down six,” Greene said. “Shooting is really fickle and I thought we’d shoot better, but if we didn’t, we had to defend better.”
The Patriots not only shot better, but improved defensively to put together a dominant second half, outscoring the Cougars by 23 to advance with a 65-48 victory at the Charleston Coliseum.
GW (15-1) rattled off the first seven points of the third quarter, then went ahead for good at 32-30 when Isaac McAllister scored inside with 3:57 left in the third.
Alex Yoakum, who scored 19 of his game-high 25 points after halftime, accounted for GW’s last seven in the third quarter to send the Patriots into the fourth with a 42-38 lead.
“We came out kind of lackadaisical. We had to turn up the tempo and play better defense,” Yokaum said. “That’s what we did and what helped us get the win.”
GW made 8-of-12 field-goal attempts in the third quarter.
Ben Nicol and Yoakum for a 6-0 run to start the fourth, allowing the Patriots to hold their biggest lead to that point.
Jefferson (11-5) got no closer than eight the rest of the way, as GW made 3-of-4 field goals and 16-of-20 free throws in the final period to seal the verdict.
Despite the Cougars attempting 22 more shots than the Patriots, both teams made 19 field goals for the game.
“For sixteen minutes, we played about as well defensively as you can play,” Greene said.
Jefferson’s best stretch came over a three-minute span in the second quarter, when the Cougars turned a tied game into a 27-19 lead.
Will Shively scored five points and Jayden Wilkie and Daion Taylor added three-pointers during the 11-3 surge that allowed the Cougars to build their biggest lead of the contest.
“The first half, we played our game, got them up-and-down and we hit some shots early,” Jefferson coach Richard Lewis said.
But JHS went cold in the second half and made only 8-of-36 shots, including 3 of 16 from three-point territory.
Taylor led the Cougars with 16 points, while Shively scored 13 in defeat.
GW outscored Jefferson 22-3 from the free-throw line.
“The free-throw advantage definitely played a role as far as the score,” Lewis said.
Yoakum made 5-of-7 shots in the second half to finish 7 for 16. He hit three threes and was 8 of 10 at the free-throw line. Yoakum also had a game-high nine rebounds.
Nicol added 17 points on 5-of-8 shooting for the Patriots, who had only nine turnovers despite facing fullcourt defensive pressure throughout.
“Once we settled in a little bit, I didn’t feel their pressure was quite as effective,” Greene said.
The win sends George Washington into a semifinal Friday against
“I told (Martinsburg coach) Dave Rogers he ought to buy a condo in Charleston,” Greene said. “He’s here every year. Martinsburg takes a lot of pride in wearing that jersey.”