CHARLES TOWN — Beating Hedgesville the first two times gave Washington the home court advantage when the teams met in the Region II, Section 1 semifinals. Beating Hedgesville for the third straight time gave the Patriots a berth in the finals against Martinsburg. And it presented a golden opportunity for Washington to make its first appearance in Charleston at the state tournament.
The taste of the comeback victory might be compared to the succulence of a surf and turf meal at Masa on Broadway in New York City that goes for $525 per person.
Washington was behind by eight points. It was early in the fourth quarter. With steals and heroics from Dominique Newman and Maleke Jones, the Patriots pulled out a 58-54 win over the 2012 big school state champion Eagles.
Hedgesville was limited to six points in the vital fourth quarter. Washington marched along causing turnovers and letting Newman use his quickness to detonate Hedgesville’s plans and help the Patriots score 18 points in the decisive last quarter.
As the crowd noise became louder and louder, the Patriots just kept coming. Newman’s scoring and thievery got the Patriots even. And then Maleke Jones brought even more thunder from the homeside bleachers with a three-pointer that pushed the Patriots ahead, 57-54, with very little time remaining.
Another Newman free throw completed the scoring and completed the ousting of the Eagles in their first game of the postseason.
Newman had exactly half of Washington’s points, scoring 29 and making 11-of-14 free throws while his teammates were a combined 5-for-13 from the foul line, including Kendell Smith’s 3-for-3 showing.
It was two missed free throws by the Eagles in the last minute that kept the Patriots ever on the move toward the evaporating lead.
Washington jumped its winning streak to nine games and it had a Sectional final date with Martinsburg on the Bulldogs’ home floor.
The overall record was 19-4 but it was Martinsburg that had given the Patriots their last loss and went 2-0 against Washington this season.
Win or lose in Martinsburg, the Patriots will be in a one-game Regional this week.
A win there would send Washington to the school’s first-ever tour of the Charleston Civic Center where it would be one of eight teams in the Class AAA state tournament.