They had the ability and confidence, but the detailed execution necessary to win a region championship game came up short for the Washington-Liberty Generals.
The host South Lakes Seahawks played a part in the Generals’ failed attempt, winning that Feb. 25 boys 6D North Region tournament boys high-school basketball title contest, 56-47.
South Lakes (22-2, 11-game winning streak) took the lead for good at 22-21 midway through the second quarter. The Seahawks were ahead 30-25 at halftime, 45-35 after three, and maintained at least a five-point lead throughout the fourth.
Washington-Liberty last won a region title in 1966, when the school was known as Washington-Lee.
The loss in this season’s region final snapped the Generals’ 10-game winning streak as the Liberty District-tournament champions fell to 18-7. Washington-Liberty also finished second in the region tourney in the 2019-20 campaign, losing to South County, 56-51, in the final.
“We didn’t shoot well enough, and South Lakes cut off our offense and played well on defense,” W-L coach Bobby Dobson said. “We needed to make more plays and they had too many offensive rebounds.”
The Generals shot 34 percent from the floor, made only one three-pointer in attempting just six such shots, and had 13 turnovers.
Trailing 10-5 in the first quarter, Dobson called timeout. He told his players “We belong here,” so start making plays.
The Generals responded with a 9-0 run to take a 14-10 lead.
In turn, South Lakes called time after trailing 21-15 in the second, then fired back with a strong surge that put the Seahawks ahead 30-25 at halftime.
James McIntyre was Washington-Liberty’s leading scorer with 15 points and had the team’s lone three-pointer. Jakhi Beale scored eight; Jack Kimbrell (seven rebounds), Faris Webber and Elijah Hughes (11 rebounds) each scored six; Brian Weiser (five rebounds, two steals) added four; and Cedric Scheu had two points.
Next for Washington-Liberty is the Virginia High School League’s Class 6 state tournament, with a first-round quarterfinal game against the undefeated Hayfield Hawks on March 4 or 5.
The Generals were 2-1 in the region tourney, rallying to defeat the Madison Warhawks, 61-58, in overtime in the semifinals. The Generals trailed for most of the game, and were behind 46-38 with 5:41 to play.
That’s when W-L started shooting much better from the outside, making some big three-pointers down the stretch. Weiser and Scheu hit those threes. A three by Scheu tied the score at 54 with 37 seconds to play in regulation and forced overtime.
In the OT, another three from Scheu with 31 seconds left gave the Generals the lead for good at 60-58.
Scheu finished with four three-pointers for his 12 points. Weiser scored 20 and had six rebounds and four steals. Webber scored 10, Hughes (seven rebounds) eight, McIntyre seven and Beale four with two steals.
Madison defeated W-L, 79-61, during the early regular season, but the Generals were missing three key players in that contest.
Washington-Liberty defeated the Centreville Wildcats, 67-54, in a first-round region contest. McIntyre scored 20 (four three-pointers, three steals) to lead W-L, which was ahead 34-20 at halftime. Hughes scored 19 and Weiser had 10 points, six rebounds, five assists, three steals and a block.
The Generals built an early lead and stayed ahead the rest of the way. Washington-Liberty had lost to Centreville, 59-46, during an early regular-season game.
NOTE: Washington-Liberty played South Lakes early in the regular season and lost, 85-65.