Wise Central used a strong second-half effort Friday to take a 68-59 win over rival J.I. Burton in the tournament’s semifinals at the Virginia-Wise Prior Convocation Center.
The Warriors (7-3) advanced to play Wise County rival Eastside (9-1) in the championship, scheduled for a 5 p.m. tipoff.
Eastside reached the title game courtesy of an 83-57 victory over Richlands.
WARRIORS FINISH STRONG
Burton (5-2) jumped out to a 16-8 lead in the first quarter, but Central controlled the game from the second quarter on.
The Raiders led 34-26 at halftime, but despite that Burton coach Aaron Williams said his team struggled halfway through the second quarter.
“They became the aggressor,” Williams said of the Warriors. “In the last 20 minutes of the game we got outscored 53-29.
“We just didn’t play tough enough tonight. We didn’t play tough enough with the ball and that’s why we had 25 turnovers. And we didn’t play tough enough on the boards. When you give up 17 offensive rebounds and you commit 25 turnovers, you’re not going to win.”
Burton led 49-45 heading to the fourth quarter but the Warriors controlled the pace in the period, tying the contest three times. The Warriors took the lead for good with 4:18 left on a basket from Elijah Hayes.
Central coach T.J. McAmis said halftime adjustments in attitude made the difference.
“When we came in, I challenged my seniors and I challenged my leaders and I think in the fourth quarter those guys showed the calm and the leadership,” McAmis said. “One was Elijah Hayes and one was Bryson Collins.”
Hayes finished with a game-high 24 points. Tyler Vanover had 22.
Caleb Williams led Burton with 28 points.
LIVINGSTON LEADS SPARTANS INTO FINAL
Eastside’s Nick Livingston struggled with his shot early in the basketball season, so he took it upon himself to hit the gym on the weekends to get in some extra practice.
It paid off in the Grand Classic semifinals. Livingston scored a game-high 21 points and pulled down nine rebounds in the Spartans’ 83-57 win over Richlands.
“I was shooting bad at the beginning of the season,” Livingston noted. “It started getting in my head. I started going in on the weekends and got my confidence back up.”
All five Eastside starters joined Livingston in finishing with two-digit points totals. Ethan Powers scored 14, Chris Swann had a double-double of 13 points and 16 rebounds, J.R. Kilgore finished with 12 points and Connor Blevins scored 11.
“I think that is the key for this team,” Spartans coach Patrick Damron said. “And Nick. I’m so proud of Nick. He’s doing about everything except driving the bus to the games. He’s rebounding, he’s assisting and tonight he’s knocking down shots.
“I think what teams are finding out right now is that we’re not one-dimensional. You can face-guard Powers. You’ve still got to worry about some other guys who can score.”
Race Moir led Richlands (4-4) with 18 points.
BEARCATS WIN ON A BUZZER-BEATER
In consolation bracket play, Virginia High’s Gavin Austin grabbed an offensive rebound underneath the basket and connected on a buzzer-beating shot to lift the Bearcats to a 49-47 win over Ridgeview (5-3).
Austin scored a game-high 25 points and Jordan Dixon added 10 for Virginia High (4-5).
LEBANON TAKES VICTORY
Also in consolation play, Lebanon never trailed on the way to a 52-23 win over Rye Cove (1-6).
The Pioneers (4-5) took a 17-4 lead in the first quarter and cruised to the win.
Sage Potts finished with 24 points, Jacob Jackson added 14 and Armani Whitaker grabbed 10 rebounds for Lebanon.
Chase Love led Rye Cove with seven points and 10 rebounds.
Consolation play begins at 9:30 a.m. when Rye Cove takes on Ridgeview.
Consolation games continue at 11 a.m. with Virginia High facing Lebanon; Berea (Ky.) taking on Northwood at 12:30 p.m.; and Chilhowie playing Honaker at 2 p.m.
The third place-game between Richlands and J.I. Burton is scheduled to tip off at 3:30 p.m., followed by the championship game at 5 p.m.