DENVER – George Washington swished 3s and threw down one-handed jams in a rocking performance Wednesday night.
Liberty could only tip its cap.
“They pretty much played a perfect game,” Lancers senior Moz Doria said.
The Patriots hit seven of their eight 3s in the opening half and put on an aerial show in the second, beating Liberty 88-58 in the 5A state playoffs’ round of 16.
Liberty coach Ivan Chambers said he was taken off guard with George Washington’s precision from deep, especially early on. The Patriots averaged only 5.8 3s per game coming into the night.
“I guess they hit seven 3s in the first half, so that’s 21 points we didn’t expect," Chambers said. "We were down 16 at half because of those 3s. … They’re a team to be reckoned with from here on out.”
Doria surpassed 1,000 career points in the final quarter of his career, finishing with 26. He had no idea about the looming milestone until a lively and well-traveled Lancers student section chanted the “That’s 1,000” on his milestone bucket.
“When they yelled it, “I was like ‘Oh, that’s pretty cool, I guess'," said Doria, who finished with his career with 1,004 points.
Doria and fellow seniors Kyle Bohuslavsky, Jacob Burns and Connor Ely were strategically taken off the court in the final minute. To an ovation by fans in red and white, the four walked down their bench, embracing coaches and teammates.
“These four have been in the program four years and I’ve known them before they even got in the program,” Chambers said. “I’ve never coached a more fun group of guys and a more a group of guys that have as high character as they have.
“It’s tough to watch them go. We didn’t want it to end, but like I told my guys all good things do come to an end.”
Doria scored a quick 14 in the opening quarter but Liberty (18-7) never could keep pace with hot-shooting George Washington (20-5), which led 46-30 by the half.
Devon Jones was the spark early, hitting three consecutive 3s in the first to push the lead to 27-21. Big man D’Auntray Pierce took over in the second as he used with long frame to punish the Lancers in the paint.
George Washington ran the lead to 21 in third and rested its starters for much of the fourth. Reserve guard Kendale Johnson kept things exciting for fans in a lopsided game with two acrobatic dunks in the final minutes.
Despite the game in hand, the undersized and outmanned Lancers finished as they usually do -- with intensity and effort. They had 18 wins on the year, the most by program for at least a decade.
“We play with a chip on our shoulders knowing that we really weren’t talked about,” Bohuslavsky said. “We knew through club ball and playing together, we could go out and do what we did. Like this year, this is one of our best years and we knew we could do it because we always play with our heart."