FORT DEFIANCE — Wilson Memorial High School outscored Fort Defiance 17-5 in the third quarter Tuesday night to turn back the Indians, 60-53, in a key Shenandoah District boys basketball matchup that saw a regional berth on the line.
Because there is no district tournament, the automatic Region C berth goes to either Fort or Wilson, depending on which one has the best district record. By virtue of Tuesday’s victory, the Green Hornets now have a one-game lead with one district game remaining for each team.
Wilson hosts Staunton on Friday and Fort travels to Buffalo Gap. If the results of Friday’s games are such that the teams are tied, then a special playoff game will be held Tuesday at a neutral site. Wilson’s record now stands at 8-13 overall and 4-5 in the district. Fort falls to 5-15 and 3-6.
The first half was a nip-and-tuck affair from start to finish, with Wilson clinging to a one-point, 30-29, margin at the half. The key to the Wilson lead was the long ball. In the first period, Matt Poole dropped in a trio of threes and added a free throw. He was joined in the scoring column by Emmanuel Gunter and Rafe Shumate who dropped in a bucket apiece.
At the other end of the court, Ryan Cook dropped in a three-pointer and a two-pointer, while Daniel Torres found the mark for a pair of baskets. Vincent Sipe drilled in three from downtown to round out the team’s scoring.
Down by two after one, Fort cut that lead in half in the second quarter, outscoring Wilson 17-16. Six different Indians provided the Fort firepower with Sipe’s three leading the team. At the other end, Wilson’s only scoring came from three-point land. Jaxon Hartman’s trio of threes led the Hornets and put them up 30-29 at the half.
The third quarter proved to be the difference in the game. Poole opened the scoring for the Hornets with an inside bucket. That was followed by Gunter who took a rebound and long pass from Zakar Woodson in for a fast break layup. Torres finally put the Indians on the scoreboard with an inside bucket, but that basket and three free throws proved to be the only Indian points of the quarter.
At the other end, Gunter and Poole went to town with 10 points more between them. Finn Irving’s three pointer rounded out the Wilson scoring and gave the Hornets a commanding 47-34 lead after three periods.
The Indians refused to fold in the final period, outscoring the visitors 10-4 in the first half of the period. A free throw by Sipe and a driving shot in the middle of the lane by Cook cut the lead to seven, 54-47, with under three minutes left.
However, a Gunter pass to Poole for a layup put the lead back to nine and gave the Hornets some breathing room. Fort never got closer with the visitors taking home the victory, 60-53, when the final buzzer sounded.
“We live and die by the three-point shot,” said Wilson coach Jeremy Harman, who also pointed to the defensive efforts of Jaxon Hartman and Rafe Shumate as being instrumental in the victory. “You have to give Fort a lot of respect. They can shoot, so my kids had to work really hard on the defensive end to stop them.
Fort did win the junior varsity contest, 34-34.