Bulletin Sports Editor
To secure a victory Friday night against Martinsville High School, G.W.-Danville’s boys basketball team had to go against its instincts.
The Eagles — normally a team that doesn’t see offensive possessions last more than 10 seconds — dribbled the ball across midcourt to open the fourth quarter, picked it up and waited. And waited. And then waited a little longer.
Two minutes ticked off the scoreboard before they put up their first shot attempt.
Eventually, the Bulldogs bit. Trailing by six points and needing possessions, they broke out of their tight 2-3 zone — just what G.W. was waiting for.
The Eagles’ athleticism and length overpowered a stretched-out 2-2-1 zone from MHS, and they pulled away down the stretch for a 66-52 win at Martinsville Middle School.
“That zone bothered us in a sense that guys weren’t making plays for other people. They thought they were going to beat the zone by themselves,” G.W.-Danville coach Thomas Carr said. “I wanted to try and get them to play man, which they ended up having to stretch the zone ... and so that enabled us to get easy buckets.”
The Eagles (5-0) outscored the Bulldogs (2-3) 15-7 following Martinsville’s decision to break out of the zone, turning what looked to a photo finish into a fairly uneventful stretch run. The Bulldogs had cut a 12-point G.W. lead at halftime to four late in the third quarter.
Jarod Williams poured in 19 points to lead the Eagles, and teammates Ahmad Thomas and Corey Thorpe joined him in double figures with 15 and 11 points, respectively.
Paris Jamison paced the Bulldogs with 18 points, but he needed 19 shots to get there. Larry Perkins was the only other player to crack double digits for Martinsville with 16 points.
Martinsville coach Jeff Adkins said he wanted to stay in the 2-3 zone, but with time running out, he had to take a chance.
“We cannot chase them,” Adkins said. “They’re too big, there’s too strong, and we cannot chase.”
After a competitive 20-19 first quarter, the Eagles seemed to break the game open with a 20-9 run into the half that hushed a rowdy crowd at MMS.
But Perkins ignited the crowd with a voracious, two-handed throwdown of a Jamison miss to cut that deficit to seven points, a dunk also seemed to get Jamison on track after a slow start from the field.
Jamison scored eight of his 18 points in the third quarter, and Martinsville got as close as 49-45 before the Eagles took over in the fourth quarter.
“They’ve been expecting me to do it, but I hadn’t really done it yet,” Perkins said of firing up his teammates and the crowd. “I knew I was going to get it as soon as I saw him shoot the ball.”
But as close as Martinsville came to handing the Eagles their first loss of the season, a pile turnovers ultimately proved too much to overcome. While Martinsville forced 20 turnovers of its own, The Bulldogs turned it over 34 times against G.W.’s aggressive man-to-man full-court defense.
Those turnovers dug the Bulldogs in a hole too deep to climb out of, especially when Martinsville couldn’t turn good looks into buckets in the second half.
A game after putting in 39 points in an overtime win over Halifax, Jamison uncharacteristically missed several shots from close in and finished just 5-of-10 at the free-throw line.
“I didn’t have it today,” Jamison said. “I wasn’t finishing. I was trying my best but it just wasn’t going in.”
Thomas scored nine points in the fourth quarter to salt the game away for the Eagles, and Corey Thorpe punctuated the victory with a one-handed throwdown into the teeth over Perkins to send the fans scrambling to the exits.
“We just took so much energy to get back that we couldn’t close it out,” Adkins said.
Still, Adkins was pleased with the defensive effort against a team that has scored nearly 100 points in each of its game this season, and he said the Bulldogs are going to be a team no one wants to face later in the season.
“That was the best defense we’ve played all year in the halfcourt,” Adkins said. “That’s going to win games eventually.”
G.W.-Danville 66, Martinsville 52
GWHS 20 20 11 15 — 66
MHS 19 9 17 7 — 52
GWHS: J. Williams 19, A. Thomas 15, C. Thorpe 11, C. Burton 6, K. Cobbs 4, J. Hairston 4, T. Rodgers 3, B. Martin 2, M. Cobbs 2, K. Beck 2; MHS: P. Jamison 18, L. Perkins 16, D. Davis 6, C. Pilson 4, D. Dillard 3, D. Holland 3, J. Dillard 2