Jamestown High’s boys basketball team has proven difficult to beat under any circumstances this season.
When the top-seeded Eagles shoot the ball like they did during Wednesday’s 71-43 home win in an Ironclad Conference 18 tournament semifinal, even a good team like No. 4 Grafton is no match.
The Eagles’ starters made nearly 60 percent (29 of 49) of their field goals. Their 3-point shooting numbers were even more impressive, as they made 8 of 12 from behind the arc.
Mason Wang (21 points) led the shooting bonanza by making all five of his 3-pointers. Ryan Devine made both of his 3-point attempts as well.
“I’m excited to do that in the playoffs,” said Devine, who scored a career-high 24 points. “But all that matters is that we got the win.
“Mason (Wang), Evan (Wang), Mike (Schmidt), Diamonte (Brown) and Ryan Jones are all great passers. When I was open, they found me.”
Devine scored 10 points in the second quarter as the Eagles (21-2) pulled out to a 29-18 lead and appeared poised to run away.
However, Grafton began to make shots as it hit five of its final eight field-goal attempts to end the second quarter, including a 3-pointer at the buzzer by Josh Moore, to pull within 33-31 at halftime. Moore finished the game with 18 points.
The Clippers (16-8) tied the score at 33 two minutes into the third quarter on a pair of free throws by Kiran Durant (12 points), before Jamestown delivered a decisive knockout blow with a 23-2 run.
Brown’s three baskets included a dunk, while Mason Wang made four 3-pointers. The Eagles also turned up the heat with their man-to-man defense, forcing Grafton into eight turnovers and holding the Clippers to 1-of-9 shooting in the third quarter.
“At halftime, Coach (Donovan Bridgeforth) talked about playing Jamestown basketball,” Mason Wang said. “That means spacing the floor, shooting without hesitating and running our offense right.
“I hit a couple of shots in the first half and that carried over to the second,” Mason Wang continued. “My teammates always know how to find me in an open situation.”
Grafton coach Jeremy Jordan said, “When you shoot like we did in the second quarter (10 of 14 from the field), as a coach you feel you’re in it. But Jamestown shot great and we didn’t maintain the focus it takes for 32 minutes.”
Jamestown, by contrast, never let up. Devine resurfaced as the standout in the fourth quarter with five consecutive baskets as the lead peaked at 32 points.
With a 4A East Region tournament berth safely in hand, the Eagles will play host to Bay Rivers District rival Smithfield for the Conference 18 championship at 7 p.m. Friday.
Smithfield’s Ryan Jones scored 18 points as the host Packers defeated Heritage 69-63 to nail down a regional berth. Smithfield fell behind by eight in the first quarter but outscored the Hurricanes 21-7 in the second period.
JAMESTOWN 71, GRAFTON 43
GRAFTON (16-7): Moore 18, Izzard 7, Durant 12, Bowers 4, Nix 2. Totals 17 5-5 43.
JAMESTOWN (20-2): M. Wang 21, Devine 24, Brown 10, Ry. Jones 4, E. Wang 6, Schmidt 4, Garrett 2. Totals 29 5-7 71.
Grafton 7 24 4 8 -- 43
Jamestown 17 16 20 18 -- 71
3-point goals: Grafton 4 (Moore 2, Izzard, Durant), Jamestown 8 (M. Wang 5, Devine 2, Brown).
SMITHFIELD 69, HERITAGE 63
HERITAGE: Rudolph 5, Dunlap 8, Huff 14, Ameer Lee 9, Amari Lee 13, Blizzard 3, Richardson 10, Marrow 1. Totals 22 15-22 63.
SMITHFIELD (19-3): Custis 10, Moore 8, Jones 18, Pierce 12, Tucker 3, Stafford 9, Jordan 4, Robertson 5. Totals 20 25-36 69.
Heritage 18 7 17 21—63
Smithfield 10 21 16 22—69
3-point goals: Heritage 4 (Rudolph, Dunlap, Ameer Lee, Amari Lee), Smithfield 4 (Custis 2, Jones, Stafford).
O'Brien can be reached by phone at 757-247-4963.