For the past four years, ever since Re’Quan Hopson formally introduced himself to Wakefield Coach Tony Bentley with a proper handshake and stoic tone, the Warriors forward has been affectionately known as “Grown Man.”
But it wasn’t until the closing moments in the first quarter of Thursday’s Virginia 5A North region semifinal against Broad Run, when Hopson sat on the bench strapped with foul trouble and with his team trailing, that his place as the Warriors’ elder statesman became reality.
Determined to end his high school career on his own terms, Hopson erupted for a career-high 29 points to lead the No. 20 Warriors past Broad Run, 85-80, in Arlington. Wakefield advances to face No. 2 Potomac in Saturday’s 5A North region final and has qualified for a return trip to next week’s state semifinals.
“When I was on the bench, the coaches reminded me that this could be my last game if we lost,” Hopson said. “I didn’t want it to end tonight, so I came back motivated.”
Prior to that point, Broad Run’s Travis Fulgham had helped his team grab control, scoring 11 points and pulling down seven boards in the first quarter. A three-pointer by Fulgham (28 points, 18 rebounds) stretched the Spartans’ lead to 27-22 early in the second quarter before Hopson stirred the Warriors for a rally.
Following a one-handed breakaway slam, the senior scored 10 of the team’s next 12 points and used active play on the defensive end to push the Warriors ahead, 42-39, at halftime.
“A few games before this, he had been playing like a little boy,” Bentley said with a grin. “But Re’Quan’s been playing out of sight and like a grown man these last couple games.”
The Warriors received another boost from Dominique Tham in the third quarter, as the Conference 13 Player of the Year scored 13 of his 28 points.
But the Spartans (20-4) refused to bow out. With both teams pushing the tempo in a contest that featured 18 lead changes, Broad Run drained three three-pointers in the fourth quarter to knot the score at 80 with 45 seconds to play.
Bentley preached patience in the huddle, drawing up a play that he hoped would free up Tham inside. But as Marqua Walton dribbled left, he saw an opening to drive. Though his runner missed, the play ended as the Warriors had initially intended, the ball in Tham’s hands for the go-ahead putback with eight seconds to play.
“I guess their players were sleeping on the rebound, but I just got in there so I could give us a chance to score and win the game,” Tham said.
Following a Broad Run miss, the Warriors (25-4) sank three of their final four free throws, punctuating a 24-for-31 performance in an area they had often struggled yet succeeded when it mattered most.