Finally. The snail’s pace revered by Hedgesville Coach Kelly Church was long gone. The game was moving. And Washington was wresting control from the cold-shooting, free-falling Eagles.
The Patriots would score 26 points in the fourth quarter as Tyrek Collier accounted for most of the scoring and Kendell Smith had six straight defensive rebounds.
Those 26 points quickly reversed a three-point Hedgesville lead and gave the Patriots a pulsating 55-45 win over the much-troubled and roster-depleted Eagles, who were losing for the third straight time.
After a first half where both sides continually misfired from near and far and there were at times more turnovers than points, the tempo was more than pedestrian beginning in the third quarter.
And any tempo that called for athleticism and quickness favored Washington in comparison with Church’s Eagles. The increased movement from end to end gave Hedgesville’s Q.J. Peterson more license to shoot. The Eagle guard had been 0-for-8 from the field in the first half. He was nearly as ineffective in the last half and completed his force-’em-up night with a 3-for-20 showing.
It was the third quarter where Washington was able to show a team-wide comfort for the first time. There was a 21-19 lead that had the Patriots on top for the first time since it held a 2-0 spot in the early going.
The increased pace and player movement caused more fouls to be called. Errors dotted the play of both teams. And the shooting percentages showed only little improvement. But the flow was much freer . . . and any increase in pace was to Washington’s considerable advantage.
After the Patriots had taken a five point lead, the Eagles took flight again when Washington misfired with five straight shots and couldn’t claim any offensive rebounds.
Hedgesville had nine points to spurt to a 29-25 lead. It was 32-29 favoring the Eagles after three quarters.
After missing his last five field goal attempts, Washington’s Dominique Newman tied it with a long three-pointer. Collier connected on another three . . . and then with 6:04 remaining, the Patriots were on the bonus at the foul line.
Washington marched onward. It outscored the faltering Eagles, 9-1, as Christian Coles, Smith, Collier, Cody Diehl, and Newman either rebounded, scored from the field, scored from the foul line, or secured loose balls.
In a matter of 90 seconds, the swarming presence of the Patriots had thoroughly controlled play on both ends. And the Patriot lead was at 44-36.
Again and again and again, Peterson missed from the field. No other Eagle tried it from the field. Peterson did drive the lane time after time and was able to draw fouls. He was 7-for-8 from the foul line.
But Church’s Eagles could never keep the Patriots from accomplishing either a close-in field goal try or from going to the foul line in a steady procession of shooters. Hedgesville began to foul incessantly. Collier made his attempts, but Coles was 2-for-9 altogether and even had to be taken out when he went 1-for-7 during a two-minute run.
Church even took a deliberate timeout when he knew he had no more, causing a technical foul to be assessed.
Collier made most of his free throws. And his steal and breakaway layup removed all doubt that Washington was headed toward its fifth straight win and Hedgesville had skidded to its third consecutive loss.
With Smith hauling down every Peterson and Juwan Powell miss (0-for-7 in all), Washington had fully completed its second-half on-the-run revival.