Making history

Patriots rout Minutemen in AAA tournament

WESTON — Washington overwhelmed Lewis County with its all-out pressure defense, stunning the homestanding Minutemen, 96-50, to earn a berth in this week’s Class AAA state tournament in Charleston.

The Patriots will be the No. 4 seed in the eight-team field and face No. 5 seed Parkersburg South in Thursday’s first round game at the Charleston Civic Center at 11:15 a.m.

With the win in one of the two Region II games that qualified teams for the state tournament, Washington moved its record to 20-5 overall. The 20 wins are the most in the five-year basketball history of the school.

Lewis County closed out its season with a 14-11 overall record after the 46-point loss on its home floor.

Near the end of the first quarter, Washington had already stamped its brand on every phase of the game. The fullcourt press it launched against the turnover-prone Minutemen had been so successful that the Patriots had a 19-2 lead.

Even that early in the game, Washington’s starting five were all contributing in some way. Steals, deflected passes, causing traveling violations, layups for points after forcing another turnover, and making close-in jumpers fueled double-figure scoring efforts from Dominique Newman, Kendell Smith, Maleke Jones, and Jerome Jones. Reserve Isaiah Brown scored another 10 points.

The Washington lead was 42-19 at the half. And then the Patriot quickness, rebounding domination, and quality shooting crumbled Lewis County throughout the third quarter. Washington outscored the perplexed Minutemen, 38-13, in the fast-paced period.

With an 80-32 lead, Coach Don Bullett inserted his bench full of ready reserves and they did enough to score another 16 points before the end.

Point guard Newman totaled 25 points and had ample support in all facets of the convincing win from Maleke Jones (17 points), Jerome Jones (13 points), and Smith (12 points).

Lewis County had committed 32 turnovers. The Patriots had 18 more rebounds than the Minutemen.

In the state tournament, Washington will be on the same side of the bracket as No.1 seeded Martinsburg and. No. 8 seeded Huntington.

The other bracket in the Class AAA field has No. 2 seed Beckley Woodrow Wilson facing No. 7 seed Hurricane and No. 3 seed South Charleston playing No. 6 Morgantown.

When Washington meets the Patriots of Parkersburg South, it will have won 10 of its last 11 games, the lone loss being a six-point verdict at Martinsburg in the finals of the Region II, Section 1 tournament. Parkersburg South comes to the trournament with a 21-4 record after trimming both Parkersburg (64-62) and Wheeling Park (60-46) in its Sectional and the stopping University, 78-68, in its one-game Regional.

Other than its three losses to Martinsburg, Bullett’s Patriots fell to Handley by a point and Morgantown by two points to account for their five losses.

Pressure defense quickly deflated Lewis County.

And now Washington will continue its historic season in Charleston on Thursday with its first visit to the state tournament.

Patriots to face Patriots in state tournament game

When Washington leaves its pre-game huddle and moves out to midcourt to ready for its 11:15 a.m. state tournament game in the Charleston Civic Center against Parkersburg South, the local Patriots will be looking up at the starters of the 21-4 record Patriots from Wood County.

Washington usually is taller than its opponents. With the exception of slender point guard Dominique Newman, Washington’s other five players in its usual rotation are all in the 6-foot-2 to 6-foot-5 range.

Parkersburg South is even bigger.

Its leading scorers are senior guard Doug Dennis, a 6-footer who is about two inches taller than Newman, and 6-foot-4 senior Wes Mitchem.

The other four players that comprise the Parkersburg South rotation are 6-foot-4 senior Logan Cox, 6-foot-6 junior Logan Lawrentz, 6-foot-2 sophomore Cody Monroe and 6-foot-3 senior Tyler Bolen.

Four seniors, a junior, and a sophomore comprise the Parkersburg South rotation.

During its 25-game season, the Wood County Patriots lost two times to Morgantown, to Brooke back in early December, and in overtime in mid-February to George Washington.

Parkersburg South smashed rival Parkersburg High by scores of 75-45 and 85-52 during the regular season, then was fortunate to move past the Big Reds in the first game of its Sectional tournament.

One of Parkersburg South’s 21 wins was a 59-42 success against Musselman in the Big Atlantic Classic on a neutral floor.

In its Sectional opener, the Patriots needed a spirited fourth-quarter comeback to stay alive against Parkersburg. That game was on Parkersburg South’s floor. But the Big Reds had 51-45 lead after the third quarter closed. The Patriots outscored the Big Reds, 19-11, in the last period to win 64-62.

Doug Dennis had 23 points in that game.

In its next Sectional game, also on its home floor, the Patriots used a big third quarter to stop University, 78-68.

Dennis had 28 points, Mitchem 16 more, and Lawrentz another 14.

The one-game Regional saw the Wood County Patriots at home against Wheeling Park. Parkersburg South earned a berth in the state tournament with a 60-46 win over those Patriots. Mitchem had 22 points, Cox scored 18 and Dennis 12.

Historically, Parkersburg South’s only success in the state tournament came in 2003 when it defeated Martinsburg, 68-57, in the championship game.

Washington has favored a fullcourt pressure defense this season. Even when it was the taller team, Coach Don Bullett’s Patriots came out to disrupt the opposition and operate in an open-court situation that it could use to force turnovers and get transition scores.

With Parkersburg South being the bigger team, there is no reason to believe Bullett’s quick-handed, quick-footed team will do anything other than show another opponent its patented pressure defense.

Washington usually goes with its all-junior starting lineup of 6-foot-2 Keldon Bell, 6-foot-2 Maleke Jones, 6-foot-5 Kendell Smith, 6-foot-3 Jerome Jones, and the 5-foot-9 Newman.

Christian Coles, at 6-foot-3, is the sixth man and 5-foot-8 Isaiah Brown scored well in the 96-50 romp over Lewis County in the one-game Regional.

Washington’s 20-5 overall record had three losses to Martinsburg, a two-point loss to Morgantown, and a one-point loss to Handley.

Should Washington defeat Parkersburg South, it would gain Friday’s semifinals against the winner of the Huntington vs. Martinsburg game.

No matter all the other aspects of this game, if Washington’s pressure defense is successful it will win. If the shallow rotation of Parkersburg South manages well enough against the pressure, it could win.

The size is similar. The styles are not.

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