WAYNESBORO, Ga. — The calendar says it’s January, but the records, intensity and the atmosphere all said it was championship-level basketball.
With some fastbreak scores and important Burke County misses, the Washington County boys basketball team took over in the final minutes to win, 49-44, on Tuesday night at Burke County in a battle of unbeaten teams.
“It’s big,” Golden Hawks coach Carlos Hope said of the win. “We have expectations here to compete for the region title every year.”
Washington County (14-0 overall, 4-0 Region 3-AAA, Subregion A) scored seven of the last nine points in the game.
Juwan Burden scored nine points in the final quarter and Burke County committed costly turnovers to help the Golden Hawks seal the win.
Early in the fourth quarter, which started with the two teams separated by a point, A.J. Gray scored five points during a key 7-0 run for Washington County, only to see the Bears (11-1, 3-1) battle back to tie the game.
Burden scored inside three times and made three of his five free throws in the quarter to secure the win. He had 17 points in the game.
“That’s what we expect him to do,” Hope said. “He’s our top guy and we need him to play big.”
Burke County came out strongest in the opening minutes, as Brandon Quarterman hit two 3-pointers.
Teammate Kelvin Henry’s determination inside helped him score 20 in the game, but Washington County held the Bears to only 28 points in the last three quarters.
“That’s championship basketball,” Bears coach Purvis Dukes said. “Basketball at its highest level.”
In the girls game, the Lady Hawks also stayed undefeated, using a triple-double from Allisha Gray to easily beat Burke County, 71-6.
Washington County, the defending state champion and 15-0 this season, scored the first 41 points in the game as defensive pressure and strong rebounding left the Lady Bears powerless.
“We were overmatched,” said Burke County coach Leslie Cooper, who is leading a young team in her first season.
Gray posted 30 points – 24 in the opening half – and sat out some of the final two quarters. Washington County led 53-2 at the half, with Kala Brown chipping in by scoring 10 of her 14 points in the second period.
Gray returned to the floor late in the game to grab a few more rebounds for the triple-double. She finished with 11 rebounds and 13 steals. Cooper said the decision to bring Gray back out was “a little crazy” considering the game was out of hand.
The Lady Hawks (15-0, 4-0) stretched their winning streak to 47 games.
“I don’t think we’ve peaked yet,” Washington County coach Sug Parker said.