PETERSBURG — After Williamsburg Christian Academy’s state semifinal win Friday over second-seeded North Cross, Eagles coach Chris Brown cracked a smile when presented with the crystal clear notion that his team would need no extra motivation for the championship game Saturday against Amelia Academy.
The third-seeded Eagles had already lost in the regular season twice, by three points each time, to No. 1 Amelia.
WCA left no doubt about which team was the best in the state Saturday, nor whether the Eagles had saved their best basketball for the end of the season, with a commanding 77-55 win to claim the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association Division III championship Saturday at Virginia State University.
“We came in knowing that we lost twice,” 6-foot-9 WCA sophomore Chester Makoi said. “We wanted to give them payback.”
In securing the school’s second boys basketball state title and first since 2012, the Eagles (26-8) won their three state tournament games by an average of 30.6 points, holding opponents to 43.6 per game.
As the final seconds ticked down and with its bench unloaded, WCA starters began to celebrate as the Eagles fans behind the team’s bench threw their hands in the air.
When the buzzer sounded, Brown gathered his team, the players’ heads bowed, at midcourt before the trophy presentation.
“We’ve accomplished our goal,” said second-year coach Brown. “Last year, we didn’t make it past the semifinals. We wanted to come back this year and make sure we dotted all our I’s and crossed our T’s. We’re just going to enjoy it right now.”
With star junior Cle’von Greene and Makoi in foul trouble, sophomore Dexter Radcliffe improbably led the Eagles with 20 points, adding five rebounds.
Greene drew his third foul near the end of the second quarter and exited the game with 6:27 left in the third quarter after picking up his fourth. He sat for four minutes before coming back on, and he managed to finish out the game with 18 points and 11 rebounds.
“When we got to the fourth, Coach told me to play my game,” said Greene, who scored six fourth-quarter points and shot 6 for 6 from the free-throw line in the contest.
Five WCA players scored in double figures. The Eagles went to the free-throw line 25 times, 10 more than Amelia Academy (26-8), a perimeter-oriented team lacking in depth.
Junior Da’Shawn Cook scored 11 of his 14 points for WCA in the second quarter, sinking all three of his 3-point attempts in the frame from about the same spot at the top of the key. He added nine assists, several of which were easy setups for Makoi, who tallied 13 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks.
Da’Shawn Cook’s twin, Ra’Shawn Cook, finished with 10 points and six rebounds despite rolling his ankle late in the first quarter.
Radcliffe scored 14 of his 20 in the second half, including three consecutive, crucial buckets for WCA in the fourth quarter as Amelia Academy tried to mount a comeback after trailing by 11 after three quarters. Radcliffe converted a layup on a Da’Shawn Cook assist, snagged a steal under the basket before going up for two, and added another score inside to keep the Eagles’ lead at 10 with 4:30 to play.
After the Patriots cut the margin to eight points, Da’Shawn Cook hit Makoi for a basket in the paint and Radcliffe sank a pair of free throws, part of a 14-0 run for WCA to close out the win.
“He’s been scoring in double figures off and on, more in the second half of the season,” Brown said of Radcliffe. “That’s why he’s a starter for us. He doesn’t really care about points. He wants to get rebounds and play strong defense. He’s a very good student and he doesn’t like to mess up.”
Maxwell Morrow, a 6-foot-4 senior, led the Patriots with 16 points and junior Kameron Harris scored 15, including an emphatic alley-oop finish in transition in the third quarter courtesy of a Da’Juan Edwards lob.
But like Friday’s semifinal win over North Cross of Roanoke, WCA controlled the game start to finish, building a 19-4 lead in the first quarter powered by its trademark full-court pressure.
During the early flurry, Greene nailed the first two 3-pointers he took and Ra’Shawn Cook assisted to Makoi twice inside.
“We wanted it real bad,” Da’Shawn Cook said. “We lost to them twice this season and we had a lot of doubters. We’ve been working hard all season and it finally paid off. I’m just proud of everybody on this team.”
WCA will return each of its five starters next season and should open the season as the favorite to repeat as state champion.
Greene, whose recruiting is sure to pick up steam in the offseason, wasn’t ready to go that far in the moments following the game.
“To be continued,” he said.
Holtzman can be reached by phone at 757-298-5830.
No. 3 WILLIAMSBURG CHRISTIAN 77, NO. 1 AMELIA ACADEMY 55
WCA: Radcliffe 20, Makoi 13, D. Cook 14, R. Cook 10, Greene 18, Noray 2. Totals 28 15-25 77.
AMELIA ACADEMY: Smith 7, Harris 15, Hampton 11, Edwards 6, Morrow 16. Totals 21 8-15 55.
WCA 20 20 13 24 – 77
AA 14 9 19 13 – 55
3-point goals: WCA 6 (D. Cook 3, Green 2, R. Cook), Amelia 5 (Smith 2, Edwards 2, Hampton).
Holtzman can be reached by phone at 757-298-5830.