ASHBURN — With two seconds remaining in overtime, George Washington got the ball into the hands of Kapone Barley at the top of the key. As the final seconds expired, Barley launched a 3-pointer from the top of the key and got his 3-pointer through, giving GW a 65-62 lead.
There was a little confusion as fans stormed the court, celebrating the win, but it was determined Riverside called a timeout and two seconds were put back on the clock.
After matters were cleared, Riverside got the ball back for one more chance, but the Rams couldn’t get their shot to fall, lifting the Eagles to a crazy victory in the quarter round of the Class 4 state tournament.
With the victory, GW (25-2) advances to face Jefferson Forest in the state semifinals Tuesday at the University of Lynchburg. JF defeated the Eagles in overtime last week in the Region 4D championship game.
The Cavaliers defeated Loundon Valley 58-49 Friday to advance.
The frantic finish was a perfect end to a game that was a back-and-forth match the whole way. The fourth quarter alone featured four lead changes and three ties.
With 37 seconds on the clock and Riverside (18-7) down 55-53, Brett Asbury drove into the lane and missed his layup. However, he was fouled on the play and made up for his miss by sinking a pair of free throws that tied the game at 55.
GW got one more chance to end the game in regulation, but a flurry of layups and close-range jumpers didn’t fall, allowing the Rams to force the extra period.
After giving up the first nine points of overtime last week against JF, the Eagles turned the table in the extra frame. Senior Ny’rek Wheeler got the scoring started when he drove into the paint and sank his layup that gave GW a 57-55 lead with 3:50 remaining. If that wasn’t enough, Wheeler picked up a steal on Riverside’s ensuing possession and hammered home a monstrous dunk that gave the Eagles a four-point lead at the 2:57 mark.
GW, which has struggled from the free-throw line at times this season, redeemed itself with its season on the line. Senior Taevon Walden’s free throw gave the Eagles a five-point lead, and Wheeler followed with a pair from the charity stripe that extended GW’s lead to 62-55 with 2:34 left in the game.
The Rams refused to go quietly, however, stringing together a 7-0 run. Beau Everett got the streak started with his layup and Michael Ziller knocked down a huge 3-pointer that pulled Riverside within two at 62-60.
Both teams’ defenses went into full gear from there as neither side scored for the next minute. However, it was the Rams who broke the scoring drought, using a layup from Simon Weeren to knot the score at 62 with 20 seconds on the clock.
Barley may only be a junior, but he performed like an elder statesman when the Eagles needed him the most, knocking down the eventual game-winning trey with two seconds on the clock. Barley led all scorers with 32 points, including eight 3s.
Shunta Wilson, who saw limited action thanks to early foul trouble, chipped in eight, while Wheeler scored eight as well. GW also received a huge contribution off the bench from Wesley Graves, who knocked down a pair of 3-pointers, including a trey that helped the Eagles eliminate a five-point deficit in the first half.
Riverside, the Region 4C champion, came out playing a stifling press defense in the first quarter and stymied GW’s offense. With Wilson, Barley and Wheeler heavily guarded, the Eagles’ killer trio had trouble getting good looks at the basket and couldn’t get their shots to fall. The Rams took advantage of GW’s struggles, building a 12-4 lead four minutes into the game thanks to a trio of 3-pointers Brian Barrett, Brett Asbury and Ziller.
The Eagles kept their claws out, though, and fought back with a 9-2 run to cut the deficit to 14-13. Barley got things going with his trey that pulled GW within five and Carlos Poole made it a three-point game when he took a feed from his twin brother Carl Poole and hit his layup in the paint.
Barley’s layup made it a 16-14 game at the 1:16 mark and a pair of free throws from Meco Wiggins and Taevon Walden knotted the score at 16 at the end of the opening frame.
Riverside got a huge effort from Beau Everett in the opening two minutes of the second period as he scored five of the Rams’ first six points and gave them a 22-20 lead on his free throw midway through the frame.
Barley stepped up big for the Eagles in the second quarter, knocking down five of his six attempts from the charity stripe to keep the game neck and neck. His freebie with 3:42 left in the frame pulled GW within two at 23-21.
After a layup and free throw from Asbury made it a four-point contest, the Eagles got a huge contribution from their bench as they have all season. Wesley Graves caught a pass on the right side and knocked down a 3-pointer that pulled GW within two.
Wilson, the Eagles’ leading scorer, sat out most of the opening two quarters because of early foul trouble, but he made an impact right away after re-entering the game near the end of the half. Wilson drove into the lane and knocked down his layup that tied the game at 26 with 1:22 remaining.
It was the Barley show once again for GW in the third quarter. Barley scored 13 of the Eagles’ 18 points in the third quarter, including a trio of huge treys. Barley’s trey at the 6:43 mark gave GW its first lead of the game at 32-30.
After the Rams re-took the lead moments later on Barrett’s layup, Barley knocked down another huge 3-pointer that put the Eagles back in front, 41-39, with 3:28 left in the frame.
Barrett struck once again for Riverside, knocking down a layup minutes later to help the Rams pull back in front, but once again, Barley hit a huge trey from the top of the key, giving the Eagles a 44-43 edge heading into the final period.