By Mark Robinson
The Greenbrier East Lady Spartans fell to the George Washington Patriots, 62-43, in a game played at the Spartans’ gym Tuesday evening, Mar. 1. The loss ended East’s season one step short of the playoffs, where eight teams will compete for the state championship.
The Spartans jumped out to an early 8-0 lead, but by the end of the first quarter trailed by one point, 12-11. At the half the lead had stretched to 28-21.
At the end of the third quarter the score was 41-30, and as the 4th quarter wound down it was still a margin of eleven, 52-41, but at the end of the game the Spartans committed more fouls, as time grew short, and the lead stretched out.
The Patriots were helped by the play of Shi Banks, #50, who blocked seven shots and altered many more, a dominant force in the paint. The Patriots also did a good job passing the ball inside on offense, which set up shots close to the basket.
Greenbrier East’s stellar season came to a premature end, with their record 20-4. This team has put together several successful seasons, and had hopes of going deeper into the post-season.
Kiara Smith led the Spartans with 15 points, 12 rebounds, and 2 assists. Lexi Tincher added 14 points. Overall, the Patriots out-rebounded the Spartans, 45-34, and had 11 assists to the Spartans 5. GW’s Jessica Lowen, #14, led all scorers with 18. Shi Banks, #50, pulled in 17 rebounds, and Elisha Davis, #30, had 4 assists.
Coach Jim Justice, after the game, had these comments: “We scouted them, we watched number thirty, and we watched number three. They usually shoot the ball poorly. But not tonight. We couldn’t just stay on ten, twelve, and twenty-four. Stuff was coming at us from every direction. . .You can’t imagine what a special team this has been. Lots of tears tonight. Lots of love. They have a bond with one another that’s really special. I’ve said it over and over, when the coach really cares for the kids, and the kids really care back, and the kids care for one another, when you get that chemistry, I don’t care if it’s McDonald’s or The Greenbrier or a basketball team, you’ve got a winner. These kids don’t have any backing up to do with anybody. They only lost eight or nine games in four years. We should be proud of them, for what they’ve done.”
Head Coach Jamie LeMasters of George Washington commented,
“I wasn’t sure what I’d see, his man, his diamond press, the two-three, we saw it all. We got down early, took a minute to adjust, settle down, went up seven or eight points in the first half. Came out and grabbed the momentum in the second half. Shi and the big kids did well, the guards did well. The fourth quarter was mostly shooting foul shots.”
The Lady Spartans will rest on their laurels until this fall. They return all of their players except graduating seniors Lexi Tincher, Taylor Hill, and Kat Walton.
George Washington will play South Charleston in the first round of the state playoffs. In other AAA games, Morgantown plays Spring Valley, Parkersburg South plays Martinsburg, and Huntington plays Buckhannon-Upshur. Morgantown has won the state championship the last two years, and is in the running to do it again.