By BRIAN WOODSON
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
It was a Patriots’ day at Princeton Senior High School.
Luke Eddy scored 27 of his 36 points in the second half in a matchup of the top two scorers in the Mountain State Athletic Conference, leading George Washington to a 72-62 win over Princeton on Saturday afternoon.
Eddy tallied 13 points in the third quarter and another 14 in the fourth, and finished the game by making all 17 of his free throw attempts.
“He is just really good, he does every aspect of the game,” George Washington head coach Rick Greene said. “From a point guard, you can see he can pass it, he gets our other guys good shots, he is just an outstanding guard and he is an even better kid.
“He is a really good kid, he does it all. He is academics, he is character, a really good deal, we are really fortunate to have him.”
Princeton’s Ryan Meadows, who entered the contest averaging 22.8 points a game, scored 27 for the Tigers, including 21 after the break, but the Tigers couldn’t overcome a first quarter hole.
“We were having trouble with them inside so really we were trying to keep it out to 6 or 7 points and they got to within 3 on us,” Greene said. “I think they are a very good team, Ryan Meadows is as good as any guard in the state, we didn’t have answer for him either.
“We tried everything. We tried to trap him, we tried to do all kinds of different things and he just hit some big shots to keep them in the game.”
Princeton (10-3) took an early 6-2 lead on an inside basket by 6-foot-7 Aaron Ferguson and four from Meadows, but the Patriots couldn’t miss, going on a 17-0 run, sparked by connecting on 9-of-15 first quarter shots to take a 22-12 lead after the opening eight minutes.
“We just messed up our flow from the beginning,” Princeton head coach Ernie Gilliard said. “Early on we went inside with the ball a couple of times, we wanted to take advantage of our size and we established a little flow and then we went away from that and they really took it to us.
“Their kids made shots today that they had to make. We knew Luke Eddy was a great player, but some other kids stepped up and made some shots and made some plays for them and that makes them a very, very good basketball team.”
That included four 3s, including two by Dominik King, who had 12 of his 14 points before the second period began.
“Dominik is one of the crucial guys for us and when he scores in double figures it takes a lot of pressure off of Luke and everybody else,” Greene said. “That helped everybody settle down, Luke doesn’t feel like he has to do everything so that was really huge for him to come out and play well in the first quarter.”
That deficit forced Princeton to play from behind and the Tigers had to do that for the entire game, cutting the margin to three once in both the third and fourth quarters, but the Patriots (8-3) always had an answer, usually led by Eddy, who continually took the ball to the hole and either scored or was fouled, and converted at the charity stripe.
“He is a very accomplished basketball player, a very smart basketball player, and we allowed him to get too many touches and as he got touches, he was able to make things go...,” Gilliard said. “There were two or three times we had a chance to get back in the ball game and all we needed was a stop and once he got penetration, he was able to pass to the off side and that hurt us.”
George Washington led by as much as 13 in the opening quarter before Zen Clements converted a 3-point play to narrow the margin to 22-12.
Princeton never got closer than six in the second, and still trailed 31-25 at the break. Eddy had six in the second period and nine at the half, while Meadows led the Tigers with eight.
“It was a team loss,” said Gilliard, whose Tigers had seven first half turnovers. “We are going to have to go back to the drawing board and we are going to work on some of the fundamental things, especially defense and decision-making, we have got to make better decisions with the ball.”
It was more the same after the break, as the Patriots seemed to always have an answer as Princeton closed in, but even though Ferguson and Clements did score eight points apiece, Gilliard said the lack of patience let to numerous misses from close range.
“You have to establish some patience inside there and I guess it is kind of hard and frustrating early on if they are open and we don’t get them the ball,” he said. “Then when they get it they seem to rush it.
“It is as if they have got to make something happen right now, what they have to do is maintain their patience.”
Eddy was negated somewhat in the opening half, but not in the final 16 minutes. If the ball was in his hands, he was driving to the hole, putting up a shot or dishing off one of his three assists.
Princeton narrowed the gap to 41-38 on a lay-up by Meadows with 2:20 left in the third period, but the Patriots went on a 13-6 run into the final quarter. George Washington’s lead was cut once to four and eventually to three, at 59-56, on a 3 by Hunter Walters with 1:44 on the clock.
No problem for Eddy, who drove the ball downcourt and all the way to the hoop. He made eight straight free throws from that point, as the Patriots finished it off with a 13-6 run to the end of the game.
“He makes everybody better, I think there are a lot of good players, but I have always felt a great player makes everybody better and that is why Luke is a great player,” said Greene, whose Patriots also received nine points from Austin Breeden. “There are a lot of guys that can get 36, but are they really making their team better and he is truly a guy who makes his team much better.”
While Gilliard has noticed the improvement made by the Patriots, who started the season with a 1-2 record, his own Tigers have lost two out of their last four games, with the previous two defeats coming by a combined five points.
“They are a talented group, obviously they are working hard to get better every day because they started off kind of slow early in the year and they have gotten progressively better,” Gilliard said. “Ironically enough, we have gotten progressively worse.
“We have no cohesiveness as a unit, we have to play together as a unit, we have to play together as a team and not worry about individual accomplishments. We have to make sure that we play to our strengths....”
Princeton has a busy week ahead, with a visit to Ripley on Tuesday followed by a key tilt on Thursday at Woodrow Wilson. The Tigers will finish the three-game stretch by hosting Riverside the following night.
“It is a busy week, but I think we can bounce back from this,” Gilliard said.
Saturday’s game was preceded by a moment of silence for Everette Bailey, a long-time Princeton coach, supporter and public address announcer for basketball games at the school, who died on Thursday.
—Contact Brian Woodson
at Princeton Senior High School
GEORGE WASHINGTON (8-3)
Dominik King 6 0-1 14, Austin Breeden 3 3-5 9, Luke Eddy 9 17-17 36, Cameron Hoston 2 0-0 4, Lucas Mullenax 0 1-2 1, Chris Kay 1 0-0 2, Alex Lewis 2 1-2 6, Mark Glines 0 0-0 0. Totals 23 22-27 72
Ryan Meadows 10 5-7 27, Derek Jennelle 1 0-0 2, Hunter Walters 2 0-0 5, Kyle Caron 1 0-0 3, Aaron Ferguson 3 2-2 8, Zen Clements 2 4-5 8, Lamont Lee 1 1-1 3, Ryan Rogers 2 0-0 6. Totals 22 12-15 62.
George Washington............22 9 17 24 — 72
Princeton...........................12 13 17 20 — 62
3-point goals: GW 4 (King 2, Eddy 1, Lewis 1); PR 6 (Meadows 2, Rogers 2, Walters 1, Caron 1). Total fouls: GW 13; PR 20. Fouled out: Clements. Technicals: none. JV—Princeton 39 (Colton Fix 14); George Washington 36 (Bobby Grishaber 8).