After not playing for a full week, the question was could Washington maintain the quality of play that had given it eight straight wins to finish off its regular season?
Playing Hedgesville in a Sectional semifinal game wasn’t going to be easy under any circumstances. The Patriots needed to establish the sort of inside scoring and area-best offensive rebounding they had displayed in sending their ordinary 7-6 record to 15-6 by the close of the regular season.
Nothing of the kind happened.
Washington missed its first five shots. And it did not rebound any of them. Hedgesville moved off to an early lead. When the misfiring Patriots missed their next five shot-attempts, at least they rebounded a few of them. But Hedgesville’s lead had grown to 10 points.
And so even with a far more forceful second half performance, the Patriots were felled, 66-55, by their barren first half shooting and the unusual scoring production of the Littliest Eagle — 5-foot-7 Juwan Powell, who scored 15 points and seemed to dull every budding rally Washington fomented with a three-pointer.
Washington had seven points in the first quarter. And trailed by seven. Washington had nine points in the second quarter. And was behind, 31-16, at the half.
After Hedgesville counted the first four points of the second half, it became imperative that the Patriots move the tempo and pace to a more frenzied one that could only be beneficial against the methodical Eagles.
The pace was quickened, but it was both teams scoring more rapidly. Washington actually scored nine straight points when the Eagles committed five consecutive turnovers. It was all the offensive rebounds being taken by Christian Coles and Kendell Smith that allowed the Patriots to score. However, once its turnover spigot was turned off, the Eagles usually scored themselves.
In fact, Hedgesville even added a point to its lead and had a
49-33 advantage when it counted the last seven points of the third period .
Coles was a tireless offensive rebounder and inside scorer in the game’s final 12 minutes. Smith was almost as effective as he took turns with Coles in zinging the Eagles with his inside work.
But Powell was receiving scoring aid from Q.J. Peterson, C.J. Burks, and Phillip Largent . . . and the lengthy lead could only be marginly lessened. The closest Washington ever came to extending its season was when it trailed by nine points.
Even a slew of missed free throws by Largent and Peterson came too late to save the Patriots as Tyrek Collier and Dominique Newman fouled out in the last minutes.
The game’s outcome had been decided too early. The Eagles showed some value from every quarter. Washington had only the second half to show off any assets. And a full game of value beat a Patriot second half of quality in the Sectional semifinals.