The Smithfield-Jamestown matchup in the Ironclad Conference 18 boys basketball championship game lived up to expectations and then some.
Before a raucous, standing-room-only home crowd Friday, the Eagles survived a game-winning shot attempt by Smithfield’s Ryan Jones at the final buzzer to earn a 65-64 victory.
The Eagles took the one-point lead on two free throws by Evan Wang with 6.7 seconds remaining after his twin brother, Mason Wang (23 points), made three consecutive shots to bring them from behind moments earlier.
Following Jones’ miss, the Eagles’ student section emptied onto the floor to celebrate the program’s first conference title with the players.
Most, no doubt, will be back in the gym Tuesday to see the Eagles (22-2) attempt to earn a first state tournament berth in school history when they host Deep Creek in the Group 4A East Region quarterfinals. Smithfield (19-4) can also earn a state tournament berth by winning its 4A East quarterfinal at Lake Taylor.
“It’s great for the fans and the community that they can come and see that,” Jamestown coach Donovan Bridgeforth saidof the regional game.
Smithfield played without injured All-Bay Rivers District forward Sascha Stafford (13.5 points, 7.5 rebounds per game) and Jamestown took advantage early.
The Eagles built a lead that peaked at 22-11 early in the second quarter.
Forward Diamonte Brown led the way for the Eagles, scoring 10 of his 15 points in the first half, in addition to tallying several steals andthrowing down a monster dunk.
But Smithfield rallied to within 29-26 at halftime behind improved shooting in the final six minutes of the second quarter. And with Chris Pierce (24 points, 9 rebounds) picking up the slack for Stafford inside, the Packers threatened to take control of the game in the second half.
Pierce displayed an array of inside moves en route to 12 third-quarter points as the Packers surged to a 51-47 lead going into the fourth quarter. The Packers led 58-52 with less than four minutes to play before Jamestown rallied to take the lead.
Brown began a 10-0 run for the Eagles with a 3-pointer from the corner. Then Mason Wang went wild on consecutive possessions, sinking a 3-pointer, scoring off of a steal, then hitting another 3-pointer to give the Eagles a 63-58 lead with 1:39 to play.
“Those were three clutch shots at clutch moments,” Bridgeforth said of Mason Wang.
The Packers fought back. Pierce scored on an up-and-under layup, then Jones (15 points) scored on a steal to cut the lead to 63-62 with 33.5 seconds left.
Following a Jamestown turnover, Jones scored on a drive to the basket with 12 seconds left to give Smithfield a 64-63 lead. Evan Wang was fouled driving to the basket and made both free throws with 6.7 seconds to put Jamestown ahead 65-64.
With three fouls to give, Jamestown used them all to reduce the time Smithfield had to attempt a winning shot. Jones’ shot came close but didn’t fall.
“This is an amazing feeling,” Mason Wang said. “It’s the stuff you dream about.”
JAMESTOWN 65, SMITHFIELD 64
SMITHFIELD (19-4): Moore 9, Ry. Jones 15, Pierce 24, Jordan 2, Robertson 3, Tucker 11. Totals 27 6-9 64.
JAMESTOWN (22-2): M. Wang 23, Devine 16, Brown 15, Ry. Jones 1, E. Wang 6, Schmidt 4. Totals 22 12-16 65.
Smithfield 10 16 25 13 -- 64
Jamestown 16 13 18 18 -- 65
3-point goals: Smithfield 4 (Tucker 3, Ry. Jones), Jamestown 9 (M. Wang 5, Devine 3, Brown).
O'Brien can be reached by phone at 757-247-4963.