W.T. Woodson raced to a big early lead against Washington-Lee and managed to hold off a furious Generals rally down the stretch for a big non-conference road victory, 74-71.
The Cavs dominated right away, racing to an early 9-0 lead and forcing an early Generals time out. The tall front line of the Cavs, led by 6’7″ Nate Spurlock and 6’8″ Cody Mains, consistently got to the offensive glass and helped pass over Washington-Lee’s defense for point-blank looks at the basket. Woodson got up by as much as 24 early, with Washington-Lee center Colin MacCullough picking up two fouls and star point guard Chris Ozgo going scoreless until the end of the first half. The shell-shocked Generals found themselves trailing 42-23 at halftime.
But the explosive Generals responded early in the second half. Bobby Dobson’s team got a nice spark off the bench from sophomore Max Geiseman to help them close to deficit to 54-39 late in the third quarter and force a Woodson time out. Then Ozgo and sophomore guard Anthony Reyes got red-hot. The pair hit consecutive threes in the fourth quarter to bring the game to 66-60 as Woodson started to take ill-advised shots and play indecisively– lost somewhere between a stall and regular basketball. Washington-Lee defensively started to a much better job as well, forcing turnovers.
Then the Woodson starters responded. They started to control the ball better and again nullify the Generals’ defensive pressure, expertly handling the ball and absorbing fouls. JMU-commit guard Matt Urbach and Mains each were three of four from the line in the closing minutes, with guard Joseph Lee adding a pair of free throws. Ozgo buried a three in the game’s closing seconds to bring it to a one-possession game, but the Generals could not stop the clock. The Cavaliers had escaped with a victory against a previously undefeated team.
“We played about 22 good minutes tonight,” Woodson coach Doug Craig said. “The last ten minutes or so were a little shaky. In fairness though you have to give them a lot of credit. They had two kids [Ozgo and Reyes] just pulling up and hitting from all over the floor, and I thought we contested some of that well. They’ve got a good team.”
Of course, so does Woodson. The Cavaliers (4-3) were led by Urbach’s 22 points, while Spurlock added 21 and Mains 17. The Cavaliers enjoyed a significant rebounding advantage (35-21) not just because of Mains and Spurlock, but guards Sean Nickel and Urbach as well. Those two contributed 13 rebounds between them as Woodson exploited its height advantage at virtually every position.
Ozgo finished with 20 for the Generals (5-1), who now have to turn around quickly and visit West Springfield this afternoon. Reyes added 17 and Geiseman 13. They now realize to beat a team like the Cavs, defending 6A state champs, they’ll have to put together a better effort for a full game, certainly at least getting more out of role players like Jake Ruge (zero points, zero rebounds, one assist).
“Early defensively we were really on it and our ball movement was really, really good,” Craig said. “We didn’t play that well in the second half, but luckily we made just enough free throws down the stretch to put the game on ice. I really think if we can play like we’re capable of, like in the first half, we can hang with anyone around.”
all stats are unofficial
|Threes: Spurlock 1-1, Urbach 3-12, Nickel 0-2, Anderson 0-1, Fruchterman 0-1, Ganbold 0-1|
|Threes: Geiseman 3-3, Ozgo 3-6, Reyes 3-9, Deily 0-1, Ruge 0-1, Simmons 0-1, McGee 0-1|