By J. Daniel Rollins
Register-Herald Sports Writer
When Woodrow Wilson and Hurricane met in the opening round of the state tournament a year ago, the Flying Eagles let a 15-point lead slip away and allowed the Redskins to cut it to one late in the game, before pulling away in the final minute and escaping with the victory.
Saturday, the two teams met for the first time since that March afternoon and Woodrow wasn’t going to allow the lead to slip again.
The Class AAA No. 10 Flying Eagles dispatched upset-minded Hurricane 62-49 for their third win of the season.
The ghost of almost giving away the victory a year ago was one that haunted Woodrow coach Ron Kidd before the game.
“It was on our mind,” he said. “They got everybody back from last year, but we came out and played hard. I’m proud of the way we played.”
Getting the win over Hurricane (5-2) meant a lot to Kidd, not just because of last season, but due to the quality of athletic program the Putnam County school has built.
“They’re a quality school and program,” he said. “I like what they do in every sport, not just basketball. They’re competitive in every sport. Any time you beat a school like that, it’s an honor.”
The Flying Eagles (3-2) did what they do best, play tough defense and attack the glass, while feeding the hot hand to put the ball in the basket.
This time, that player was 6-foot senior guard Jaylon Breckenridge, who scored a game-high 14 points, including two 3-pointers to set the pace for the Eagles.
Breckenridge, who missed much of the 2012-13 season, was playing out of his natural position of shooting guard, but instead ran the point in the absence of Donte Nabors, who is still nursing an injury.
“I thought he showed great leadership,” Kidd said. “I was really impressed with him. He did great.”
For Breckenridge, it felt good to get back on the court and get a full season under his belt, as Woodrow makes its quest for Charleston and a historic 17th state championship.
“It felt good,” Breckenridge said. “I felt like I was making most of my shots. Once you see one fall, you think they’re all going to fall. If you don’t make it, you’ve just got to get back on defense. That’s Beckley basketball. That’s what we’re here for.”
Woodrow needed the defensive pressure against a stout Redskins team, which was led by senior Henry Sorsaia. The 6-5, 210-pound senior spread his scoring out over four quarters, totaling 21 in the game.
Junior Trey Dawson added 12 and senior Garrett DeFries had 9.
With a balanced scoring attack, it made game planning difficult for Kidd and his staff.
“We just told our kids that they’ve got to guard,” he said. “We didn’t say (Sorsaia’s) name or anyone’s name. We just said you have to guard all of them. We feel like all their kids can score.”
The Eagles relied on Chase Hancock to be their floor general, leading the team and directing them on defense.
The self-described “laid back” Hancock was anything but on the court, screaming out orders and diving for loose balls, all while making life tough for the Redskins offense.
“I think he sets the tone for us on defense,” Kidd said. “He’s a warrior. Each and every game he comes to play. This warrior — I think everyone needs to take a page out of his book on how he comes to work.”
For Hancock, who was the only of the starting five to finish without double-digit points, it’s all about winning, no matter what the cost.
“I like to win,” he said. “I like to play defense. I like to dive for loose balls. If I can get it, I’ll get it. It’s a sacrifice but it’s all for the team.”
It’s that team that Hancock has become a leader for, whether he asked for it or not.
“Everybody looks up to me,” he said. “I didn’t really want the role, but as a leader I stepped into it. Everybody looks up to me and I do my best to keep everybody in line and focused and pumped up.”
And for Hancock, it’s not about his own numbers at the end of the game, but the number on the scoreboard.
“If you’re hot, we’re going to get you the ball,” he said. “If I’m hot, I’ll shoot it. Nobody on this team is selfish and we try to work together.”
Woodrow will return to action Monday night against sectional and county rival Shady Spring. Tip-off in Beckley is set for 7:30 p.m.
— E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org and follow on Twitter @JDanielRollins.
Jacob Lemmerman 0 0-0 0, Henry Sorsaia 10 1-1 21, Dustin Scarberry 0 2-2 2, Ace Estep 1 0-0 3, Trey Dawson 5 0-0 12, JT Rogoszewski 0 2-2 2, Garrett DeFries 3 2-4 9. Totals: 19 7-9 49.
Woodrow Wilson (3-2)
Corey Acord 1 0-0 2, Nick Deems 0 0-0 0, Jaylon Breckenridge 6 0-2 14, Chase Hancock 3 2-4 8, Dai-Dai Fortune 2 0-0 5, Noah Hancock 6 0-0 12, Nequan Carrington 4 3-3 11, Brent Osborne 4 0-0 10. Totals: 26 5-9 62.
H 13 17 9 10 — 49
WW 18 17 16 11 — 62
3-point goals — H: 4 (Dawson 2, Estep, DeFries); WW: 5 (Breckenridge 2, Osborne 2, Fortune). Fouled out — None.