Alone on top

Patriots dominating early competition

CHARLES TOWN – Coach Don Bullett has a few sage words of advice for his undefeated Washington High School boys basketball program: Rebound at both ends of the court, stay focused and don’t get ahead of yourselves.

[cleeng_content id="447667380" description="Read it now!" price="0.49" t="article"]That seemingly simple prescription for success has paid handsomely thus far this season. And when it’s all said and done, the 2013-2014 Patriots may discover that they have to look no farther than a mirror to come face-to-face with their staunchest competition.

Dominique Newman has been a force to reckon with this season as the Washington Patriots remain undefeated and ranked No. 1 in the state in boys basketball.

Dominique Newman has been a force to reckon with this season as the Washington Patriots remain undefeated and ranked No. 1 in the state in boys basketball.

Washington has surged into the new year with an unblemished 7-0 record, including a dominating 83-49 victory over defending state champion Martinsburg on Saturday, Jan. 4 in Charles Town. The Patriots have been outscoring their opponents by an average of 37 points per game and, except for the season-opener, the 83 points Washington hung on the Bulldogs were fewest the Patriots have scored all season.

Dominique Newman (17.3 points per game), Jerome Jones (16.7), Keldon Bell (11.9) and Maleke Jones (10.0) have combined to provide the Patriots more than enough offense. And Jones (7.9 rebounds per game), Bell (7.0), Joshua Dudley (6.0) and Austin Shields (5.1) have responded by proving to be an overwhelming force on both sides of the boards.

“We have high expectations for this group,” Bullet said. “This group has been playing together for a long time, through middle school and on up. This group plays so well together that I like watching them.”

“We know that if we can rebound, good things are going to happen,” he added. “We’re going to be able to get out and run. That’s always been the big key for us.”

Washington finished the season ranked fifth in the state last year after being bounced from the postseason in the second round of the state tournament. But all indications so far suggest that that group of talented underclassmen from a year ago have jelled together to form a beast of a contender as upperclassmen.

From the start of Saturday’s game against Martinsburg, it is apparent Washington may be in a league of its this season in terms of team speed and ball-handling skills as the Patriots built a large first quarter lead en route to a 41-19 halftime advantage. And although the Bulldogs graduated considerable talent from their state championship team from a year ago, Martinsburg’s inability to mount even token opposition in the face of relentless pressure on both sides of the ball from Washington bode well for the Patriots dictating to what degree they achieve success.

“Each team is different and we’ve had some pretty good teams in the past,” Bullett said. “But this group is quick and they’re fast and we’re pretty solid all the way around. We feel like we’re pretty strong in all positions. Whereas sometimes in the past, you may have a pretty good guard or a pretty good forward. That’s pretty much the difference.”

Austin Shields, No. 41, has been active along the boards for Washington this season.

Austin Shields, No. 41, has been active along the boards for
Washington this season.

“We’ve been telling our kids all year long that the key for us is keeping the kids focused,” he added. “You can read all the ink in the papers and all that stuff and think all you’ve got to do is show up. We’re getting them into the mindset that every day in practice they’ve got to stay focused. Every game they’ve got to stay focused. Play it one possession at a time, one game at a time, so we don’t get ahead of ourselves.”

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