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Burton secures first state Final Four berth since 2013

Kevin Mays • Mar 2, 2019 at 2:24 AM

WISE — Here we go again.

For the sixth time this season, the John I. Burton and Eastside boys will meet on the basketball court.

Tuesday’s VHSL Class 1 semifinal will be the final meeting of the season for the Cumberland District foes, with the winner earning a trip to Richmond and a championship game berth at Virginia Commonwealth’s Siegel Center.

Burton (22-7) earned its first trip to the state semifinals since 2013 with Friday’s 46-36 victory over George Wythe at the Virginia-Wise Prior Convocation Center.

Eastside (25-4) — which advanced to the state championship game last year, where the Spartans fell to Lancaster — is back in the semifinals after beating Auburn 63-60 in overtime on Friday in Christiansburg.

Burton and Eastside will meet at the Prior Center with an 8 p.m. start time.

NO SURPRISES

There will be no surprises between the neighboring foes, who have had two of their five meetings this season decided in overtime.

“It’s just an even matchup,” Burton coach Aaron Williams said following his Raiders’ semifinal win. “You know at the end of the day, they hate to lose to us. We hate to lose to them. In about, I don’t know how long it will take, maybe 15 or 20 years, we’re all going to look back and smile.

“Somebody’s going to win and somebody’s going to lose, but I’ll say this: We’ve been really good for Eastside this year, and Eastside has been really good for us. And we felt like that’s an advantage coming into the (state quarterfinal) game. We’ve had some intense battles and close games and we’ve tried to learn and grow in those situations.

“So here we are. Somebody’s going to win and somebody’s going to lose. But I know one thing. The teams are just going to come out and play hard. So here we are.”

QUARTERFINAL WIN

Friday’s quarterfinal win did not come easy for the Raiders.

George Wythe (23-5) kept things close in the early going and led 21-18 at halftime.

Burton responded in the second half, holding George Wythe to 6-of-21 shooting from the floor and outscoring the Maroons 28-15.

“The first half was just a struggle,” Williams said. “It was not our best game. But we won the game because we were determined to win. We made enough shots, but really, we just got stops. It’s great to win a state quarterfinal game without playing our best game. Really, we just gutted it out.”

Caleb Williams led the Burton offense with 17 points, while Houston Thacker had 12 points and 14 rebounds.

Ty Farrow led George Wythe with 12 points.

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