It took a full day of watching film of Herndon for Wakefield to decide to open last night's Northern Region boys' basketball quarterfinal in a zone defense. But after watching the Hornets bury three three-pointers and falling behind 19-7 in the first quarter, the Warriors threw that plan out of bounds.

A man-to-man defense saved Wakefield, which rallied behind senior guards George Johnson and Tye Beal to upset No. 6 Herndon, 77-71, at Herndon.

Beal scored 22 points and hit a three-pointer at the end of the first half and a four-point play midway through the third quarter to help Wakefield recover. The Warriors, down 31-30 at halftime, took the lead for good midway through the third quarter, stretching it to 72-62 with 1 minute 38 seconds to play.

"It wasn't until two minutes before the game started that we decided to go zone," said Johnson, who scored 29 points, including 13 in the fourth quarter. "We wanted to switch them up. But in the end, our man made the difference."

Johnson said Beal's defense on Herndon senior guard C.J. Glen (five points, five assists) made the difference.

"We saw that [Glen] handled the ball for 90 percent of the game, so the key was stopping him," said Beal, whose four-point play gave his team a 47-42 lead. "I just tried to make him" dribble to his left.

Seniors Danny Jones scored 24 to lead Herndon (21-3) and Richard Gore added 21 for the defending region champions.

"The team that gets the most easy baskets usually wins," Hornets Coach Gary Hall said. "Tonight, that was Wakefield. They scored off offensive rebounds and we missed some free throws. Their defense turned it up a bit on us."

Wakefield 77

No. 6 Herndon 71

Final Four Madness:Wakefield is bidding for its third region title. George Johnson, then a sophomore, was the sixth man for the Warriors when they won the title in 2005. "I kept telling the guys all week how much fun it's going to be to play at the Patriot Center," Johnson said.

Up Next:The Warriors (22-4) move on to play Friday night in the 9 p.m. semifinal at Patriot Center against West Springfield (19-5).