RICHMOND — Wakefield Coach Tony Bentley slowly rubbed his hand down the front of his face during the third quarter of Monday’s Virginia AAA state semifinal against John Marshall, a look of exasperation peeking through his fingers.
Three consecutive Wakefield shots had just bounced off the rim, the last of which sent John Marshall downcourt for another transition bucket in what became an all too familiar sequence during Wakefield’s 66-46 loss at Siegel Center.
The Warriors (25-6) shot just 29 percent from the field and turned the ball over 15 times, resulting in 20 John Marshall points and a big night for Justices guard Gerard Dean-McBride (26 points, 12 rebounds).
“Not to take anything away from John Marshall, but we stopped ourselves; we got selfish,” Bentley said. “We shot too many jump shots. It was like a domino effect where if one guy missed, the next guy thought he could make it. We didn’t get here by shooting jump shots.”
While Wakefield settled for perimeter shots, John Marshall (26-5) began the contest with aggressive play that produced free throw opportunities and an early lead. A Dominique Tham score cut the Wakefield deficit to 7-6, but the Warriors sophomore soon went to the bench after picking up his second foul on the ensuing play.
With Tham sidelined, the Justices closed the quarter on a 13-2 run and held Wakefield without a field goal for nearly three minutes.
Tham (10 points, 10 rebounds) returned to start the second quarter and immediately provided a lift for the Warriors, recording eight points to cut the deficit to 26-18. Still, Wakefield couldn’t find an answer for Dean-McBride and the Justices led 32-23 at halftime.
The third quarter began with much of the same from Dean-McBride, who continued to find lanes and open teammates. Khory Moore (22 points) kept the Warriors close, nailing back-to-back threes and cutting the deficit to eight points.
Wakefield appeared poised to draw closer in the period’s final seconds, but another turnover in the back court resulted in a three-point dagger by Aaron McRae, stretching the Justices’ lead to 50-37.
“I’m still very proud of these guys,” Bentley said. “These guys have grown up and learned to be brothers. That’s 25 games. Nobody in the area thought we would win 25 games and be in the final four.”