If you’re going to beat a good squad like #9 Fairfax, a solid team effort is necessary. #15 Centreville got that team effort Friday night–at least in the second half–but it’s hard to say the Wildcats’ victory could have possibly occurred without Mekhai Washington.
The 6’5″ senior transfer from Arkansas was unstoppable in his team’s 52-49 home win over the Rebels. He finished with 30 points, getting to the rim almost at will against guard-oriented Fairfax. He dominated the boards, ripping down 15 rebounds. Washington posted up down low. Washington played some point guard. Washington played good defense and got steals. In short, Washington did it all.
“He can do that,” Centreville coach Kevin Harris said of Washington’s dominant performance. “Once he gets it going he’s tough to stop.”
He had it going the whole game Friday, though he didn’t have much help early. Fairfax led 22-17 at the half, with Washington accounting for 12 of Centreville’s total points. Two integral parts of the Wildcats attack, Avery Ford and John Hunter, were held scoreless in the first half. Ford picked up three fouls, and it looked like a Centreville team not at full strength due to injury might be in trouble against the deep and experienced Rebels.
The Wildcats came out of the locker room an entirely different team. They went on a 5-0 run to start the quarter and after a few baskets were able to set up their defensive pressure. Christian Lewis buried a three for the Rebels to momentarily stem the tide but seconds later Lance Douglas found Hunter open for a three to tie it at 25. The Wildcats got a bucket, stopped Fairfax, and got another hoop on a Washington follow of a teammate’s miss. Suddenly the Wildcats were up four points.
Centreville extended its lead to 38-31, with Ford and Hunter contributing 11 points between them in the third quarter.
“We weren’t worried about those two at half,” Harris said. “We know they’re pretty much gonna get theirs eventually.”
Fairfax battled back to within a point midway through the fourth quarter at 44-43, but then it was time for the Washington show again. He scored to make it 46-43 with around three minutes left. Then, after steals/stops Ford found Washington twice, one for a dunk, to give Centreville a 50-43 lead late.
The tenacious Rebels battled back yet again with the help of a couple missed free throws by Centreville. They even had the ball for an opportunity to tie with 2.5 seconds left, but a Ryan Pelczynski three-pointer as time expired was off the mark.
Rebounding was a huge key to victory for Centreville. Ford and Washington scored several times on offensive rebounds and those two matched Fairfax’s total output on the glass.
“Fairfax is a really good team,” Harris said. “I was really proud of our team’s ability to limit them on the offensive glass and not allow second chances.”
Senior guard/forward Chase Ackerman led the way for Fairfax (8-2) with 10 points, all in the first half. Rebels coach Mike Barbee got good production out of his bench (Pelczynski, Greg Williams, freshman Margad Choijilsuren), as it outscored Centreville 17-0. Senior guard Josh Abtew did not have a good shooting night but made his presence felt with seven assists.
For the Wildcats (6-3) Ford ended up scoring 11 second half points, playing some great defense as well. Hunter and Douglas added five points apiece.
But make no mistake, this night belonged to Mekhai Washington. His dominant performance was one to remember.
all stats are unofficial
|Threes: Washington 1-3, Hunter 1-3, Douglas 0-1, McClain 0-1, S.Williams 0-2|
|Threes: Ackerman 2-4, G.Williams 1-1, Lewis 1-2, Choijilsuren 1-2, Mbangue 0-1, Pelczynski 0-1, Peters 0-2, Abtew 0-7|