RICHMOND – G.W.-Danville’s last state championship win came back in 1998. The Eagles hit the floor at E.J. Wade Arena inside the Siegel Center on the VCU campus Thursday night against Louisa County looking to snap that streak in the VHSL Class 4 state championship game.
Louisa County took its first lead of the game, 32-31, with 2:55 left in the third quarter, but the Eagles responded and never gave the lead back, taking home the state championship, 55-44.
“I told them my goal this year was to win the state championship,” said G.W.-Danville Head Coach Jermaine Parker. “Tonight, the dream became a reality.”
It was a 10-0 run by the Lions to take that lead, but G.W.-Danville responded with a 7-0 run to close out the third quarter to lead 38-32 entering the final eight minutes of the season.
Senior Shunta Wilson led all scorers with 29 points, making 9-of-11 shot attempts, including 13 out of 19 points that helped take control, 50-37, late in the fourth quarter.
“I always tell them basketball is a game of runs and each team will make them, but you’ve jsiut got to learn how to maintain the game and keep the game under control,” Parker said.
Louisa County cut the lead to eight, 50-42, with under two minutes to play, but G.W.-Danville closed out the game allowing just one more basket to hold on for the win. Ny’rek Wheeler added 14 points and 16 rebounds as well for the Eagles, including knocking down 8-of-11 free throws.
“It’s a very good feeling,” Wilson said. “This is our last year and as seniors we take this as a very good moment.”
The Eagles got off to as good of a start as they could’ve hoped, scoring the game’s first seven points. The Lions responded and only trailed 12-10 after the first quarter. The score would become tied at 12-12 seconds into the second quarter, but it didn’t stay that way for long. G.W.-Danville jumped right back out in front, 17-14, and after the Lions cut it to 17-16 the Eagles finished the first half on a 10-4 run to lead 27-20 at the break.
The physicality of the game picked up midway through the third quarter when Wheeler got tangled up with Louisa County’s Isaac Haywood going after a rebound. Wheeler said he knew at that moment what he had to do.
“I just had the mindset of being more aggressive,” he said.
Wilson guided the Eagles early, scoring 12 points in the opening 16 minutes on 4-of-6 shooting.
Wilson was the only player that shot better than 50 percent from the field. The Eagles as a team shot just 37 percent and held the Lions to 27 percent shooting from the field. The top three players for the Lions – Jarett Hunter, Chris Shelton and Xavien Hunter – shot 3-of-15, 7-of-23 and 4-of-18 respectively on the night.
Wilson also made the only 3-pointers for G.W.-Danville, knocking down three of them in the win.
The jitters may have played a role late in the fourth quarter at the free throw line, but the Eagles made 20-of-32 from the stripe and only allowed Louisa County to hit 5-of-7.
“I had faith in them, 100 percent,” Parker said.
The Eagles will return to Danville with their fourth ever state championship, first since 1998, and finish the season with a 27-2 record.
“The dream’s become a reality. You don’t have to dream it. You can live it,” Parker said. “Enjoy the moment that you were a part of the 2019 George Washington High School state basketball team.”
G.W.-Danville 55, Louisa County 44
GW - 12 15 11 17 - 55
LC - 10 10 12 12 - 44
G.W.-Danville: S. Wilson 29 pts, 6 rebs, 2 blks, 2 stls; N. Wheeler 14 pts, 16 rebs, 2 stls; T. Walden 7 pts, 4 rebs, 1 stl; K. Barley 3 pts, 4 rebs, 2 assts; Carlos Poole 2 pts, 5 rebs
Louisa County: C. Shelton 20 pts, 10 rebs; X. Hunter 10 pts, 3 rebs; 3 assts, 2 stls; J. Hunter 8 pts, 4 rebs, 4 assts; S. Washington 4 pts, 7 rebs; I. Haywood 2 pts, 7 rebs