State Tournament: Last-second shot rims out, Martinsburg advances
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Washington guard Keldon Bell's 25-footer beyond the top of the key hit glass then the front of the rim and bounced out Saturday, allowing top-seeded Martinsburg (25-2) to advance to the Class AAA state championship game with a 45-42 win.
The Patriots (21-6) lost for the fourth time this season to the Bulldogs, but made their Eastern Panhandle rivals sweat to earn their first title game appearance since winning the championship in 2009.
Washington outscored Martinsburg 27-23 in the second half, and though the Patriots never led, they largely outplayed Martinsburg with the exception of two Bulldog standouts: senior and state player of the year candidate Donte' Grantham and junior reserve guard Elisha Freeman.
Grantham led all players with 18 points and nine rebounds, but was relatively quiet after halftime. Freeman, on the other hand came off the bench after not seeing the floor in the first half, and scored six crucial points to keep the Patriots at arm's length until the late stages of the game.
Martinsburg led 44-39 with 45 seconds left when Bell hit a 3-pointer from the corner to cut the Bulldogs' lead to three. Although the Patriots - who had two fouls to give at the time - allowed Martinsburg to run off nearly 30 seconds from the clock, Bulldogs guard Jordan Robinson was called for a charge with 18 seconds left.
The turnover yielded no points for Washington, however, as point guard Dominique Newman drove the lane but missed a layup. Washington's Maleke Jones was whistled for a foul on the resulting loose ball, which sent Jalen Lewis to the line. He made the first of his attempts but missed the second, setting the stage for Bell's final miss.
Newman led Washington, which made its first state tournament appearance this week, with 15 points.
Martinsburg will play the winner of Friday night's late game between No. 2 seed Beckley and No. 3 seed South Charleston in the title game at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.