The road to Charleston has come to an end.
Woodrow Wilson’s quest for a historic 17th state championship will have to wait until 2015 after the Flying Eagles were eliminated in the Region 3 co-championship by George Washington 63-59 in an overtime thriller.
“To beat Beckley any time is huge,” George Washington coach Rick Greene said after the game. “But to beat them in a regional final on their own court, next to winning the state championship, is the biggest win you can get in West Virginia high school basketball.”
It was a close battle for much of the game, with Woodrow Wilson trailing the Patriots for the majority of the first half, before finally breaking through in the third quarter after a pair of Donte Nabors free throws, followed by baskets by each of the Hancock brothers — Chase and Noah.
The senior Nabors, playing his last game on the same floor that his father Gene and uncles Brian and Andre all starred on, helped carry the Flying Eagles through the remainder of the quarter, giving Woodrow a 46-44 lead heading into the final round of regulation.
However, the Patriots, feeling an upset brewing, wouldn’t let the Eagles keep the lead, getting big baskets from Anthony Dean and Evans Award candidate Jon Elmore down the stretch to push the game to overtime.
With 4 minutes and a chance at history in the balance, Woodrow couldn’t manage to find the basket, missing a pair of 3-pointers late in overtime and committing a controversial foul on Elmore with just seconds remaining, sending the VMI signee to the line, where he converted one of two.
“I had a million thoughts rushing through my head,” Elmore said. “People were beating on the floor. It’s such a tough environment. It was so loud.”
Woodrow’s last offensive attempt would be a Brent Osborne 3-pointer — a shot he has connected many times this season — but it didn’t fall. George Washington recovered the rebound and the game ended.
“This is the flagship program in the state of West Virginia,” Greene said of Woodrow Wilson. “This is the program we all chase. Some — not me, I respect it too much — want to be envious of it and jealous of it. And that’s all it is. Other schools are jealous of Woodrow. It is the program in the state of West Virginia. That has been proven. Heck, they have to put more lights in here because of all the banners.”
Woodrow seemed out of sorts, not being able to convert shots, completing only 46 percent of their shots from the field and going 2-for-16 from 3-point range.
The Flying Eagles were 0-for-12 from behind the arc in the first half.
That was a game plan that Greene and the Patriots were willing to let Woodrow keep.
“We didn’t think they were going to go 0-for-12,” he said. “They rebound so well that we felt like if they start penetrating and dishing we’re not blocking them out. We felt like if they hit those outside shots, there’s nothing we could do to be them. We’re not athletically strong enough to do that with them.”
“Beckley’s more known as a slash and penetrate than an outside shooting team,” Elmore, who scored 34 points, said. “So on the scouting report it was don’t let them get to the basket, try to keep them outside and contest all the shots.”
The win for George Washington only adds to the rivalry with Woodrow Wilson. The Patriots also eliminated the Flying Eagles boys and girls soccer teams in the regional finals during the fall.
But the rivalry didn’t keep Greene from gushing about the history of the Flying Eagles.
“This is a historic program. This is the biggest program around,” Greene said. “So it’s huge to beat them any time, especially in this setting.”
Ron Kidd was unavailable for comment following the game, choosing to spend the final moments with his team in the locker room.
— E-mail: jrollins
@register-herald.com and follow on Twitter at @JDanielRollins.
George Washington 63,
Woodrow WIlson 59 (OT)
George Washington (19-7)
Cei Carena 4 3-3 11, Dominik King 1 1-3 3, Jon Elmore 12 5-9 34, D.J. Staples 1 1-2 3, Anthony Dean 5 2-2 12, Alex Lewis 0 0-0 0, Drew Baker 0 0-0 0, Chance Blaney 0 0-0 0. Totals: 23 12-19 63.
Woodrow Wilson (20-5)
Nick Deems 0 0-1 0, Jaylon Breckenridge 2 3-3 7, Donte Nabors 5 5-5 16, Chase Hancock 5 1-2 11, Dai Fortune 2 0-0 5, Noah Hancock 2 0-0 4, Nequan Carrington 6 1-3 13, Brent Osborne 1 1-2 3. Totals: 23 11-16 59.
GW 21 12 11 13 6 — 63
WW 16 13 17 11 2 — 59
3-point goals — GW: 5 (Elmore 5.); WW: 2 (Nabors, Fortune). Fouled out — none.