RICHMOND — Entering Monday’s Virginia AAA semifinal, Henrico Coach Vance Harmon was more than a bit concerned about W.T. Woodson’s shooting ability. As a spectator for Woodson’s riveting 22-point comeback in the Northern Region championship, Harmon had seen firsthand what could happen if the Cavaliers got hot from outside.
But following a back-and-forth contest at the Siegel Center, it was the Warriors’ sharpshooting that made the difference in a 75-65 win. While Woodson shot 7 of 23 from long range, Henrico connected on seven of its nine three-point attempts, all of which came at critical points during the first half.
“Both teams played well. One team just shot the ball better than the other,” Cavaliers Coach Doug Craig said following his team’s first-ever state semifinal appearance. “I don’t think anybody played poorly for us. They just made shots and to me, that was the ball game.”
Fueled by the rabid support from a student section that poured 11 busloads of fans into the stands, Woodson (25-5) jumped out to a 5-0 lead on an Alex Boock three-pointer and Eric Bowles bucket. For the next 12 minutes, the teams traded runs until a three by Henrico’s R.J. Moses broke a 24-all tie. The Warriors (29-2) would go on to hit three more shots from behind the arc, including consecutive three-pointers from Ryan Pearson, to trigger an 18-5 run that built a 42-29 halftime lead.
“Seven for nine from three is not the norm for us,” Harmon said. “When we play hard on defense and get stops, I want them to play free on offense and we got going there in the second quarter.”
The Cavaliers would respond with a 6-0 run to start the third quarter. Peter Murray, who finished with 14 points, came alive after a tough first half, knocking down a quick three-pointer at the buzzer to pull Woodson within 52-48 entering the fourth period.
“We got the crowd back in the game and that shot was a pivotal point for us, but they adjusted” Murray said.
Five points from Tommy Stepka (12 points) along with two Michael Hansler (17 points) free throws cut the Henrico lead to 58-55 with 4 minutes 49 seconds remaining. But in the up-tempo fashion that’s helped them average 79 points per game, Henrico took control, building a decisive 12-4 run while leaving the Patriot District and Northern Region champions one game short of competing for another title.
“The run was great,” Murray said. “We left a legacy at Woodson. Our book, so to speak, is closed, but it was a successful year.”