Home court no help for downed Eagles

HEDGESVILLE — The only Sectional team to master Washington has been Martinsburg. The Patriots have twice tamed Hedgesville and thumped Musselman as well. Last Tuesday, Washington downed Hedgesville, 63-54, to give it a 2-0 record against the Eagles.

Getting the best of the other four Sectional teams during the regular season is important.

When it comes time to play the Sectional tournament games, the teams seeded first and second will have the home court in the semifinals. The two survivors from those semifinals will qualify for the Regional. In the Regional, there will be two games played. Both the winner and the runner-up in this area’s Sectional can qualify for the eight-team state tournament in Charleston.

If Washington finishes a likely second to Martinsburg in this Sectional, the Patriots will be a host team in the Sectional tournament semifinals. Should Hedgesville finish a likely third, it would have to come to Washington for one of the semifinal matchups.

That’s the way it played out in 2012. Washington hosted Hedgesville in the Sectional tournament semifinals. But the Patriots lost . . . and it was the Eagles, despite losing to Martinsburg for a third time in the Sectional tournament finals, reaching the Class AAA state tournament where they beat Wheeling Park, Parkersburg, and George Washington to win the state championship.

Last Tuesday, Washington used its superior quickness and attention to rebounding to whip the Eagles.

Jerome Jones was more valuable than he had been all season. He scored 18 points. He claimed 11 rebounds. He was alive on the defensive end without getting into deep foul trouble.

Dominique Newman did everything except make his free throws. The quick-handed, quick-footed point guard scored 18 points and was a successful floor leader in Washington’s halfcourt offense.

Points came in spurts for the winning Patriots.

Jones hurried through eight points as Washington ran out to a 22-14 lead near the middle of the second period.

When Hedgesville made a small inroad toward the hard-won lead, Newman had five points in a 7-0 sprint that left the Patriots with a 30-19 halftime edge.

And not long after the second half had started, Washington’s lead had ballooned to 40-21 because it had gone on a 10-2 run against the startled Eagles. Christian Coles had joined Jones and Newman to torment the Eagles with his double-figure scoring.

Even when it began misfiring from the foul line (making only 13-of-28 for the game), Washington could use Newman’s eight points in the final four minutes to deal Hedgesville its fourth loss in Sectional games. The Eagles were 3-4 in those games.

The other part of the Region has four teams — Hampshire, Elkins, Lewis County, and Buckhannon. When Hedgesville went 0-3 against Martinsburg last season, it could still defeat a team from the other part of the Region and qualify for the state tournament.

Washington had a satisfying win on Hedgesville’s floor. And it had been successful with its several bursts of unanswered points and its quickness, attention to rebounding and unshaken poise when the Eagles attempted short-circuited comebacks.

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