After having two games postponed at the end of the last week because of heavy rainfall in the area, the George Washington High School boys basketball team settled in nicely when it finally took the court against Bassett on Saturday afternoon.
The teams slogged through the first few minutes of the opening quarter, but a 17-0 run at the end of the first spurred the Eagles to an eventual 65-34 home victory against the Bengals.
GW (14-6, 8-2 Piedmont) took care of Tunstall on Tuesday and anticipated playing Bassett (2-17, 2-8) on Thursday before hosting Martinsville on Friday. Instead, both games were postponed to Saturday and Monday, respectively.
Still, the mindset toward each contest remained unchanged despite the importance of the meeting with the Bulldogs.
“Coach [Jermaine] Parker always told us to take it one game at a time and prepare for each game like it’s a big game,” senior guard Kapone Barley said. “Once you handle those two games, then you know Martinsville’s coming, so then you can prepare for that.”
The Martinsville game looms large because of the tie at the top of the Piedmont District between GW, the Bulldogs and Halifax County. GW needs to beat Martinsville on Monday, beat Patrick County on Tuesday and also have the Comets lose to Magna Vista on Monday to ascend into first place and claim a bye in the district tournament.
“I told them to be consistent in what you do and don’t be too relaxed and get the mindset of, ‘This is just Bassett,’” Parker said, “because that will get you to a place that brings back your bad habits, your old habits. And then you run into a Martinsville team which is pretty good and then you have to try to clean up the older, bad habits.”
GW and Bassett were tied 2-2 through the first four minutes of Saturday’s game, but 17 unanswered points from seven different players put the Eagles well ahead after the first eight minutes.
The Eagles slowed down in the second quarter, only outscoring the Bengals 8-6, but they still took a 27-8 lead into halftime.
GW showcased its depth in the second half as 12 players in all scored in the game, but Parker noted Bassett’s scrappiness as it attempted to come back.
“They’re not going to give up,” Parker said. “I always tell my guys to finish the fight early. When you give them a rest … it gives them an opportunity at the end of the game to say, ‘I’m just going to take a shot. If it goes in, it goes in. If it don’t, it don’t.’ And they started making shots toward the end, so they never died. They never gave up.”
Eagles sophomore Jakobe Dixon led all players with 15 points, and classmate Donavan Howard backed him up with nine. Barley scored seven, Willie Edmunds scored eight and Shawn Watlington and Sha’Kobe Hairston each supplied six.
Darius Hairston led Bassett with 10 points, and Jaxon Ford added nine.
With Tunstall and Bassett now out of the way, the Eagles are free to focus solely on Martinsville, which tallied a 58-55 win in the teams’ first meeting last month. GW has won seven straight games since that loss, though, which speaks to an improved level of play.
“[We’ve been] locking in on defense, communicating more—I think we’ve just jelled more as a team,” Barley said. “We don’t want to feel comfortable. We want to lay it on them every night. Anybody we play, we’re going to give them our best.”
B: Darius Hairston 10, Jaxon Ford 9, Tre’Jon Fuller 6, Jayricious Hairston 3, Dominic Gill 3, Bradley Fuller 3.
GW: Jakobe Dixon 15, Donavan Howard 9, Willie Edmunds 8, Kapone Barley 7, Sha’Kobe Hairston 6, Shawn Watlington 6, Brad Price 4, Wesley Graves 3, Isaiah Pritchett 2, Tyler McDuffie 2, Juwan Spratt 2, Taevon Walden 1.