ROANOKE, Va. – After finishing runner-up in the state last season, the George Wythe Maroons are stalking another crack at a state title.
In a contest that featured numerous momentum swings, George Wythe defeated Honaker 74-59 in the state VHSL Class 1 boys basketball state quarterfinals at the Cregger Center on the campus of Roanoke College to reach the final four for the third consecutive year.
The first quarter was dominated by the Maroons. George Wythe (25-3) scored the first nine points of the game and Honaker was 1 of 10 from the floor and committed six turnovers as the Maroons built a 19-3 lead with just over a minute to play in the first quarter.
As George Wythe controlled the first eight minutes, the Tiger assumed control in the second frame. It was the Maroons that had six miscues and Honaker hit 64 percent of their shots as they battled back. When Grayson Honaker made a 3-pointer from the wing, the Tigers closed to within 28-27 at intermission.
“We had more turnovers in the second quarter, than we’ve had in games,” said George Wythe coach Pat Burns. “We just mentally checked out for a while. That’s not us; we don’t do that. We had to do a better job in the second half.”
The game was close most of the second half. The Tigers took their first lead in the third quarter and their biggest advantage was at 43-40 with 1:22 to play in the third.
But the Maroons found another gear. After committing 10 turnovers in the first half, George Wythe had only two turnovers the final 16 minutes.
“The key, we started taking care of the ball better,” Burns said. “We started getting a lot better shots. We started playing like we were capable of playing.”
The contest was tied at 47 early in the fourth quarter, but the wheels came off for the Tigers. With the Maroons leading 52-48, Honaker point guard Blake Stinson fouled out of the game.
“Blake is a senior leader, he’s the conductor of the train,” said Honaker coach Brandon Miller. “I feel that was the nail in our coffin.
“Coach Burns did a fine job. They spread the floor, with a four-corners look. When we tightened up our defense and got out on them, they went to the goal.”
George Wythe went on a 12-2 run to extend the lead to double-digits and take control of the game. They made 10 of 12 shots the final eight minutes, shooting a blazing 83 percent.
Noah Atwood finished with 20 points. Josh Reeves added 19 points and 11 rebounds. Ty Farrow contributed 11 points with five assists in the win. The Maroons will face the Eastside-Covington winner in the state semis.
“Getting to the semis means a lot, but it’s really not what we’re trying to accomplish,” Atwood said. “Getting there is great and all, but we’re going for the state championship.”
Grayson Honaker led the Tigers with a game-high 22 points. Brandon Sample (16 points) and Hartley Hilton (11 points) were also solid offensively for Honaker (23-5).