Washington makes state tournament debut a successful one in close win

CHARLESTON — Trailing by three points with only 3:27 to play in its first-ever state tournament basketball game, Washington rallied for eight straight points behind the scoring of Dominique Newman, Keldon Bell and Maleke Jones to take a five-point lead.

Parkersburg South staged its own comeback, getting the game’s next five points to forge the seventh tie of the Class AAA quarterfinal game.

It was then that Newman jetted ahead of the still-celebrating Patriots and scored on a driving layup. Parkersburg South missed its next shot with Washington’s Kendell Smith rebounding the errant attempt.

Smith made two free throws to cement Washington’s 60-56 win, sending the Patriots to the semifinal round where they would meet Martinsburg for the fourth time this season.

The Bulldogs, now 24-2 after trimming Huntington in the quarterfinals, had defeated Washington (21-5 overall) three times during the 2012-13 season.

Smith’s late free throws completed a 17-for-25 (68 percent)team showing for the Patriots, a team that missed more than 50 percent of its foul shots in many early-season games.

Newman’s last-seconds layup brought the game’s 10th lead change.

After Parkersburg South went out to a 21-15 lead behind the scoring of Casey Mitchem, it was Washington’s turn to get back in it. The Patriots closed to within 31-30 at the half.

At one point, Mitchem had scored 20 of Parkersburg South’s 40 points, but Washington had a slender 46-44 lead going to the fourth period.

Mitchem sprained his ankle near the midway point of the fourth quarter. He left, then returned with a noticable limp, but was removed for the final minutes of play.

Washington had many heroes in the tension-filled final moments.

Newman scored well and directed the Washington offense. He had 17 points. Bell added another 16 points and was the game’s leading rebounder with 17. Smith was able to score 11 points and collared 12 rebounds. Maleke Jones came through with nine points and eight rebounds. Jerome Jones claimed eight rebounds as Washington had a definitve 51-34 rebounding advantage against the Patriots from Wood County.

Parkersburg South completed a 21-5 season.

Washington’s first trip to the boys state basketball tournament was rewarded with a scintillating quarterfinal win in its baptism at the Charleston Civic Center.

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