Cava­liers need over­time for first ti­tle

W.T. WOOD­SON 55, HYLTON 50 (OT)

The Washington Post Sunday - - ALLMETSPORTS.COM - BY JA­COB BOGAGE ja­cob.bogage@wash­post.com

rich­mond — For 14 weeks, the W.T. Wood­son Cava­liers were not Vir­ginia’s fastest team. They were not the state’s best shoot­ing team, and they weren’t the most ath­letic team.

After Satur­day, they are the com­mon­wealth’s best team.

It took four ex­tra min­utes to prove it, a whole lot of free throws, an ex­tra time­out and enough men­tal dis­ci­pline to nav­i­gate a 6A tour­na­ment that twisted and turned with nail-biters and sec­ond chances.

The No. 19 Cava­liers have their first state cham­pi­onship in their first ap­pear­ance, with a 55-50 vic­tory over No. 20 Hylton in over­time, five decades after so­lid­i­fy­ing their place as a re­gional bas­ket­ball power.

“It’s 54 years of knock­ing on the door and fi­nally kick­ing it open,” Coach Doug Craig said.

Se­nior guard Matthew Ur­bach split a pair of free throws as reg­u­la­tion ended to lift Wood­son to an ex­tra pe­riod, the score tied at 46.

A fade­away jumper from Hylton’s Dwayne Hill at the buzzer rimmed out.

“We just didn’t get a good look at the end there,” Bull­dogs Coach Barry Smith said.

Wood­son pitched a shutout for three min­utes of over­time and took a six-point lead be­fore Ja­son Tshibangu banked in a layup for Hylton.

The Cava­liers (26-6) re­sponded with a timely steal from se­nior guard Si­mon Mu­laa and more cru­cial free throws.

Hylton trailed by three with two sec­onds to play and the ball un­der­neath its own hoop. But the Bull­dogs called a time­out with­out any re­main­ing, re­sult­ing in a tech­ni­cal foul. Wood­son se­nior sharp­shooter Ja­son Aigner made both cor­re­spond­ing foul shots, and Ur­bach chucked the ball into the air as time ex­pired.

The Cava­liers piled on Aigner at half court to cel­e­brate the win. It was the sixth time, in six at­tempts, that they were vic­to­ri­ous in a game that went to an ex­tra pe­riod.

“We must do some­thing right in over­time,” Craig said.

Both teams spent months with their doubts. Hylton (21-10) was not sup­posed to reach the state ti­tle game, Smith has said. Last year was sup­posed to be the sea­son for the Bull­dogs.

Fairfax County is not sup­posed to pro­duce bas­ket­ball state cham­pi­ons, let alone two in a row after West­field cut down the nets a year ago.

And yet here were both of th­ese teams at Vir­ginia Com­mon­wealth Univer­sity on Satur­day play­ing neck-and-neck, clin­i­cal bas­ket­ball.

Wood­son led by six after the first quar­ter, but Hylton re­sponded with a re­fined sec­ond pe­riod that fea­tured a healthy dose of Hill, the power for­ward, who fin­ished with 18 points.

He emerged as an even more dom­i­nant pres­ence in the sec­ond half, at times trad­ing shots with Aigner, who guarded him in the post while giv­ing up four inches.

Hylton took a three-point lead in the third quar­ter on a three­p­ointer from the top of the key. The Bull­dogs held that lead into the fourth quar­ter, un­til Aigner gave Wood­son the lead with a scoop shot in the post with three min­utes to play.

He hit al­most the same shot, plus a foul, from the other side of the rim the next pos­ses­sion. Aigner led all scor­ers with 26 points on 6-for-11 shoot­ing and a per­fect 11 of 11 from the foul line.

Wood­son’s fans chanted, “Do the work / Trust the process,” the phrase tat­tooed on Aigner’s left bi­ceps, after his free throw.

“I think peo­ple who watch my game at first glance think I’m just a shooter,” he said. “But I re­ally don’t pride my­self on be­ing just a shooter. My goal is to want it more than the guy I’m guard­ing.”

JOHN MCDON­NELL/THE WASH­ING­TON POST

W.T. Wood­son’s Ja­son Aigner, who had 26 points, holds the cham­pi­onship tro­phy next to Brian Pierce.

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