Boys basketball: Elmore erupts in second half as GW beats Capital
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - For two quarters, the Capital High boys basketball team was right where it wanted to be in a Class AAA Region 3, Section 1 semifinal contest against rival George Washington.
Having battled back from a first quarter deficit, the Cougars held a five-point advantage at the half and had held Patriots star Jon Elmore to just five points on just 2-of-7 shooting from the field.
The second half was a much different story, as Elmore came out of the break firing on all cylinders to lead the Patriots to a comeback 83-65 win.
Elmore was simply unstoppable in the second half, connecting for 40 points in the final two quarters. Elmore hit 16-of-20 second half shots, including 12-of-15 from 3-point range in finishing with 45 points.
"In the first half everything felt bad and my timing was off," said Elmore, who outscored Capital 40-28 in the second half by himself. "I got some shots up at halftime and started to feel some rhythm, so in the second half I came out pulling.
"We didn't want to go home and have our season end, so we came out (in the second half) with intensity and it paid off. I just kept pulling it. I couldn't throw the ball in the ocean in the first half and then in the second half I came out and hit a couple and decided to keep pulling it."
After Elmore's fifth 3-pointer of the third quarter, Capital assistant Ron Beatty asked "Who's guarding him?" Cougars assistant Ahmed Witten responded "Nobody."
But it didn't matter if Elmore was blanketed or wide open. Everything he threw at the basket seemed to go in.
"It was just a great effort by him and obviously if he doesn't do that, we're not winning the ballgame," GW coach Rick Greene said. "Having said that, I thought we were a little bit better defensively. We played kind of a shell defense to keep them outside and then I think we rebounded a little better than we did in the first half.
"The thing is that Jon does that and everybody relaxed and the other kids don't feel like they have to go get 20, so it gears around Jon obviously."
"He's hands down the best player in the state, with no disrespect to anybody else," Greene added. "He's a great player and then there are great, great players who know what to do at a certain time in the game. He knew to keep going. To me it was just keep your mouth shut and coach the other four. If he had missed some and gotten cold, he would have known to spread a little bit, but a player of caliber, you've just got to trust him and I do."
Capital coach Carl Clark remembered only one other game in which an opponent's performance was nearly equal to that of Elmore. That contest came in the late 1980s when former Oak Hill and West Virginia University standout Pervires "P.G." Greene burned the Cougars.
"What could we do?" Clark asked. "There was nothing we could do against him (Elmore). He showed what it takes and he was unstoppable. Those shots that we was making weren't easy shots. He was making some extremely hard shots, falling out of bounds, falling down and people on top of him. When somebody gets like that, there's nothing you can do.
"We double-teamed him, we tried to keep the ball out of his hands and nothing worked."
George Washington started quickly behind another hot shooting senior in Dominik King, who scored 12 first half points on 4-of-6 shooting from 3-point range. King also pulled down a team-high 10 rebounds for the Patriots.
GW freshman post player Anthony Dean also had first half hot hand, tallying 11 points in the first half.
Those performances helped the Patriots weather the first half, as Elmore struggled to gain his rhythm.
"In the first half, Dominik was on fire and Anthony played a great game inside," Elmore said. "Everybody really played well and that's why we came out with the victory. Capital is a really good team, they've got a lot of athletes and they were killing us in the first half with turnovers. At halftime we decided that if we could keep the ball and not turn it over, we were going to win."
King and Dean finished with 14 points apiece for GW.
Capital erased a 19-14 first quarter deficit with the help of a 12-0 second quarter run that resulted in a 37-32 halftime lead. Senior Carrington Morris led the Cougars with 28 points and 13 rebounds, including 19 first-half points.
Tyler Hurd also gave the Cougars a second quarter lift, with six points off the bench during the Cougars' run.
Migual Bays added 12 points for the Cougars, whose season ended at 12-8.
The win sets up a rematch between GW and rival South Charleston (22-1) in the sectional final, to be played Saturday at 7 p.m. at the South Charleston Community Center.
South Charleston slipped past the Patriots 63-62 on Feb. 1 in the teams' only other meeting this season.
"It's going to be great," said Elmore, who played at South Charleston during his freshman and sophomore seasons. "We definitely can't wait to get back to the Community Center. They got one from us the first time on a disputable call, so we're going to go down there and play our hardest and hopefully the results will be different."