Advancing in a tournament often times requires a team to survive close calls.
Jamestown coach Donovan Bridgeforth wasn't sure either he or his team would survive on Saturday when John Handley players missed two short shots at the hoop in the final seconds, Bridgeforth said his heart about stopped.
Those misses preserved Jamestown's 66-65 win and sent the Eagles to the state championship game at 8:30 p.m. on Friday at VCU's Siegel Center.
"I still haven't recovered," Bridgeforth said 15 minutes after the game. "That was crazy. I thought it was going in."
The ball bounced on and over the iron twice in the final seconds with Handley players Tigney Kobe and Kevin Curry having chances at the game-winning shot.
"Handley is a great team," Bridgeforth said. "Those guys fought to the end. That was a great game. We just came out on the lucky side, thank God."
Luck or no luck, Mason Wang gave the Eagles all they needed with 24 points. In a four minute span during the first half, Jamestown outscored the Judges 14-3. Wang had 12 of those points on four 3-pointers, all near the baseline. Diamonte Brown contributed with 13 points for the Eagles.
"They left me open and I have the confidence," Wang said. "I'm going to shoot it. my teammates have all the confidence in the word in me and that helps me even more."
Wang's final trey had the Eagles ahead 25-12, their largest lead of the game. Handley made a push through the second quarter and chipped away at the lead, cutting it to 29-27 at halftime when Michael Brown hit a 23-footer at the buzzer.
Considering Handley scored 48 in the first half of its quarterfinal game with Hanover, the Eagles defensive effort had to be stout.
"We thought they were a little bigger than us, but our defense could still hold them," Bridgeforth said. "We thought they really hadn't seen anybody get in there chest to chest like we would."
Handley never got closer than two until the end. The teams traded points, with Jamestown getting a small advantage, pushing its lead to as much as six points at 65-59 with 1:47 to play when Ryan Jones sank a pair of free throws. The Judges outscored the Eagles 6-1 in the last two minutes, but fell a point short.
JAMESTOWN 66, HANDLEY 65
HANDLEY: Brown 15, Tigney 21, Wise 15, Martin 5, Morris 2, James 2, Curry 5. Totals 24 11-16 65.
JAMESTOWN: M. Wang 24, Brown 13, Jones 8, E. Wang 6, Schmidt 8, Devine 7. Totals 24 11-16 66.
3-pointers: HHS 6 (Brown, Martin, Wise 3, Curry). JHS 7 (M. Wang 5, Jones 2).