Late in the fourth quarter of Tuesday’s 78-52 victory over Washington & Lee, King George boys basketball coach Craig Boothe was urging his players to keep up their pressure, despite a comfortable lead.
The Foxes’ advantage had grown to as many as 25 points over the visiting Eagles, but Boothe wasn’t about to let his team coast home.
“I’m trying to build confidence and get these guys to buy into the concept of playing hard physically and never giving up,” said Boothe, who replaced Darren Berkley as King George’s coach this year.
After three straight wins, it appears that the Foxes are buying into Boothe’s approach. After one-sided wins over Mountain View and Colonial Beach, they turned back W&L with an up-tempo defense and a balanced scoring attack. Twelve of the 14 players used by Boothe scored Tuesday night.
“The determining factor tonight was our defense and we played a lot of people,” Boothe said. “We turned it up in the fourth quarter after they cut into our lead with some 3s.”
Down 42-20 at the half, the Eagles (3-3) outscored their hosts 19-11 in the third quarter to make things interesting. Back-to-back baskets from long range by Carson Bell trimmed the Foxes’ lead to 50-38 with a minute left in the period.
But King George quickly got back on track in the fourth quarter after Boothe reinserted his starters.
Led by hustling guards D.J. Edelen and Steve Jones, and the rebounding of Isaiah White, the Foxes used their pressure defense to reestablish their momentum. Edelen, who finished with a game-high 20 points, buried a 3-pointer from the corner to push the margin back to 24 points and King George never looked back.
Jones and White both played key roles in the Foxes’ ability to put the game away. Jones, their starting point guard, turned in a strong floor game and showed a nice touch from the outside with 17 points.
White picked up the slack on the backboards after King George’s leading rebounder, Jaylyn Stepney, picked up his fourth foul in the first half. The 6-foot-2 White grabbed 14 rebounds, including eight in the fourth quarter after W&L had rallied.
“We’re a family and we work hard in practice,” White said. “We go through things until we get it right and there’s consequences if we don’t. It’s becoming second nature for us.”
Jones, one of seven seniors on the Foxes’ team, likes the changes and system that Boothe is implementing this year.
“There’s more ball movement and more shots,” said Jones. “The coaches are encouraging us to shoot more, and there is a lot more positives than negatives.”
Jalen Barkley, one of seven seniors on the squad, joined Edelen and Jones in double figures with 10 points. Stepney added nine points and six rebounds despite the foul trouble.
Besides Bell’s 14 points, W&L got nine from Keyson White and eight from Christian Johnson. But the Eagles hurt their chances considerably at the foul line, making just 15 of 31 attempts.
“You have to want it more than the other team,” W&L coach George Hunter said. “Every time we made a move, there was a foul. They made theirs and we didn’t.”
The Eagles continue a busy week with a home game against King William on Thursday. King George travels to Colonial Beach on the same night.
|Washington & Lee||10||10||19||13||—||52|
Washington & Lee (3-3): Christian Johnson 8, Carson Bell 14, Earl Wise 0, James McNeil 6, John Daly 5, Mekhi Lee 0, Keshon White 9, Jory Sydnor 5, Jarron Hickman 0, Derrick Reed 5. Totals: 16 15-31 52.
King George (3-0): Steve Jones 17, Jalen Barkley 10, Dwayne Parker 3, Eric Davis 0, Adrian Penn 2, Marcus Freitag 5, Devon Edelen 20, Bradley Shelton 2, Isaiah White 4, Jaylyn Stepney 9, Aston Howard 2, Jaylen Parker 2, Jacob Brown 2. Totals: 27 17-28 78.
3-pointers: W&L 5 (Bell 4, Johnson) King George 7 (Jones 3, Edelen 3, Morgan).