CHARLESTON - With time running down in a tie game and the ball in his hands, Hedgesville's Q.J. Peterson stared at Wheeling Park's Vondel Bell with a huge smile stretching from ear to ear.
It's was the Eagles' all-state superstar against the Patriots' best defender. One-on-one. Game on the line.
Peterson cleared everyone out of his way, raced past Bell to the basket before being fouled by Park's Boo Lathon - his fifth - to head to the free-throw line with 2.2 seconds left.
Wheeling Park’s Emil Popicg (1) is surrounded by a throng of Hedgesville defenders Wednesday in Charleston.
Photo by Josh Strope
Peterson made them both, Wheeling Park (20-6) couldn't come up with the inbounds pass and No. 7 Hedgesville (21-6) stunned the No. 2 Patriots, 39-37, in overtime Wednesday in the quarterfinals of the West Virginia State Boys' Basketball Tournament at the Civic Center Coliseum.
''No matter what, just try to get to the rim and take us much time off the clock as I can,'' Peterson said about his drive. ''Either try to get to the free-throw line or get an easy layup. (Bell) is a good defender and they started to help but they didn't show enough help so I went in for the layup.
''I knew no matter what, all of Hedgesville had my back. The trust in the coaching staff allowed me to have the opportunity.''
According to Hedgesville coach Kelly Church, he was glad to see his star player go to the basket instead of taking the jumper he normally does.
''We've been telling him all season to just go the basket,'' Church said. ''I guess when he was a little kid, he was a shooter. Now maybe he's a basketball player.''
Peterson's free throws were the only points scored in overtime. Both teams took their sweet time with the basketball. Hedgesville had the ball for the final 1:15 of the overtime with Peterson basically holding for the last shot.
A shot was all Wheeling Park coach Michael Jebbia would have liked to have had in the final 4 minutes.
Wheeling Park had three possessions in overtime. Errin Baynes was stripped going to the basket on the first one. The second possession saw Baynes go to the basket and collide with Phillip Largent and lose the ball out of bounds. The final possession was the inbounds pass that Luke Saseen couldn't come up with as Rahsaan Shanton closed in.
Hedgesville led for the majority of the game but Wheeling Park played out in front for most of the fourth quarter.
A jumper by Lathon and a basket by Emil Popicg gave Wheeling Park its largest lead, four points, at 37-33 with 3:23 to go. The Patriots didn't score again.
The Eagles cut the deficit in half with a basket by Chris Shields.
After back-to-back turnovers, Lathon missed a jumper in the paint. As the teams scrambled for a rebound, Lathon pushed Largent to the ground and was given a technical foul.
Peterson made both free throws to tie the game with 1:18 left.
''It was a good ballgame with two evenly matched teams,'' Jebbia said. ''It was a physical game and for a technical foul to be called there obviously changed the momentum.
''I'm not sure what happened to calling the kids together and trying to let the kids settle it. I can sit up here and try to say the right things but the technical foul sent the game into overtime. The truth is the truth.
"My thing is with a 1:30 left in a close game, to whack a kid with a technical foul? They are here to watch the kids. I don't know exactly what happened. There was a flopping throughout the game entirely. There was a lot of pushing and grabbing. Should we have kept our cool? Yeah. Could it have been handled different? Probably.''
Added Lathon: "They said I was being a little too rough. He did a little bit more than what they said I did. He made it look like I pushed him and he fell over."
Largent's assessment of the play
''I went for the ball and, I don't know who it was, but he pushed me out of there and um, I fell,'' he said with a grin.
Despite the magnitude of the technical foul, both teams had their chances to win at the end of regulation.
Hedgesville's Juwan Powell missed a layup, Largent missed the putback and another chance that was blocked by Baynes. The ball went back to Powell, who drove the basket and was fouled hard by Lathon.
He missed both free throws with 10.9 seconds to go.
On the Wheeling Park possession, Baynes drove to the basket and kicked out to Popicg, who missed a wide-open 3 at the buzzer.
Lathon, playing in his first game since being named the Evans Award winner, finished his Wheeling Park career as the only Patriot in double figures with a game-high 17 points and 10 rebounds.
Shields paced the Eagles with 14 points and Peterson added 13.
''We are located where we are in the state and our next-door neighbor (Martinsburg) is clearly the most talented team in the state and lots of times we think we are overlooked,'' Church said. ''A kind and respectful gentleman came up to me on the way in while I was turning in my lineup card and said 'Hey coach, the SSAC is having trouble with hotel rooms because of construction. After the game, you guys aren't going to stay, you're going to go home right after, right?'
''We decided to stay.''