Midway through the second quarter of George Washington’s Piedmont District Tournament opener against Patrick County on Friday night, GW senior Wesley Graves streamlined toward the Eagles’ bench, going for a loose ball.
Graves, at full steam, ran out of floor causing him to leap over GW’s bench and four rows into the stands where he was greeted by fans with open arms.
Graves’ hustle was impressive enough on its own but it was amplified by the fact the Eagles were already holding a double-digit advantage.
It would’ve been easy for second-seeded GW to overlook winless Patrick County but Eagles head coach Jermaine Parker preaches to his squad the importance of not overlooking a squad and his guys showed him they’d received the message against the Cougars.
GW scored the game’s first 19 points and held Patrick County scoreless for a majority of the second quarter in a 78-27 blowout.
With the win, GW (17-6, 11-2 Piedmont) moves on to the semifinals where it will host Martinsville at 6 p.m. Monday.
“We’re just going to come out, grind in practice, work hard and I think we got it,” said sophomore guard Jakobe Dixon, who scored a game-high 13 points.
Senior Kapone Barley added, “We’re just going to have to go out and stick to the game plan.”
“This our third meeting this year and I think the guys really know each other and I think it will come down to out fights each other,” Parker said.
Parker started his second team against the Cougars, a squad known for its defense-first mentality. However, the Eagles’ starting five proved it knew something about offense as GW raced out to a 19-0 lead on junior Sha’Kobe Hairston’s layup with 4:43 remaining in the opening period.
As well as the Eagles did on offense, they were even sharper on the other end in the opening eight. Patrick County didn’t score until nearly four minutes into the game when Lane Taylor knocked down a 3-pointer with 4:15 remaining in the opening frame. GW closed out the opening quarter on an 11-7 run to take a 30-10 lead into the second quarter on Dejon Baynes’ layup with 12 seconds left.
GW kept up the defensive pace in the second quarter, keeping Patrick County off the board for nearly the whole frame. The Cougars didn’t find the hoop until Jai Penn’s 3 with 30 seconds remaining in the half.
Meanwhile, Dixon did his damage over the stretch, scoring a string of eight consecutive points, six coming on 3s, that gave the Eagles a 37-point cushion with 30 seconds remaining in the half. Dixon scored all 13 of his points in the second frame.
“We’ve been working hard all week so it just came together tonight,” Dixon said.
Senior Brad Price was a big defensive factor in the opening half as he recorded three steals that led to easy transition points for the Eagles.
Even with the game well in hand, GW kept its foot on the gas, continuing its defensive effort well into the fourth quarter. The Eagles held the Cougars to three points in the final period.
Fourteen GW players got onto the scoresheet against Patrick County. Senior Juwan Spratt added eight points while seniors Jarrell Showers and Taevon Walden followed close behind with seven points apiece. Junior Sha’Kobe Hairston, senior Shawn Watlington and Barley each pitched in with seven. Price, junior Justin Bethel and sophomore Donavan Howard finished with five.
Penn and Taylor led the Cougars with six.