Jamestown defeated Smithfield for the fourth time this season on Friday to win the Group 4A East boys basketball championship.
Five takes from the Eagles’ win that earned them the top East seed in next week’s state tournament in Salem:
‘Kind of like the Warriors’
Jamestown’s twin backcourt duo of Evan and Mason Wang combined for 47 points in the first win over Smithfield in December. Next, they combined for 52 in a brilliant showing at Smithfield Feb. 3. In last week’s Conference 18 championship, they combined for 29. On Friday in the fourth showdown, the figure dropped to 13. It was also the first of the four meetings one of the Wang brothers didn’t score at least 20 points, with Smithfield's triangle-and-two defense deserving some of the credit for stymying their play.
Ryan Jones led the way for Jamestown with 17 points and Diamante Brown also scored in double figures with 13. Michael Schmidt and Ryan Devine made their share of big plays as usual and backup point guard Jarontez Garret contributed five second-quarter points to go along with a couple of nice assists to Schmidt and Devine.
“To have multiple threats is awesome,” Jones said. “It’s kind of like the (Golden State) Warriors. When somebody is not hitting, somebody else will be there to score and pick up the slack. We’re most likely always going to have somebody that’s hot out of all six of us.”
The performance of Jones and Brown was a continuation of their recent form. Jones scored 18 Thursday against Monacan and Brown 10, and Brown netted 15 a week ago against the Packers.
Brown did his best damage on slashes to the basket in the third quarter Friday while Jones knocked down timely 3-pointers in the second, third and fourth quarters.
Play(s) of game
Jamestown led 36-31 midway through the third quarter when Devine threw down an open one-handed slam in transition.
Less than 13 seconds later, Devine nailed a 3 from the left wing, courtesy of a Brown assist on a fastbreak to ignite the Eagles’ student section.
If Jamestown (25-2) and Smithfield (21-5) meet again, it will be for the state title at VCU.
Packers post stalwart Sascha Stafford didn’t play in either of the last two because of an injury. But Jamestown won the first two meetings by a combined 19 points and the last two by a combined 10, which includes last week’s one-point win in the conference final.
“They’re a tough team,” Brown said. “They’re scrappy, just like us. They take shots just like us. But we fought hard to get all these four wins.”
“No matter who comes to play, we’re just going to play Jamestown basketball,” Jones said. “But we’d love to play them again. It’s a great crowd, great intensity every time we play them.”
About 15 minutes before tipoff, the doors at Jamestown's front entrance were locked and a healthy smattering of fans was sent back to the parking lot because of the capacity crowd waiting inside.
When the game was over, the “Gang Green” student section spilled onto the floor to celebrate as Jamestown lifted its first regional championship trophy.
“The guys wanted to go out the right way,” Jamestown coach Donovan Bridgeforth said. “It’s their last home game, so they were up for it. It’s hard beating a team four times, but everything we’ve done this year has been hard.”