Cody Morris, a 6-foot-6 senior and the team's top scorer, succinctly summed up the key win over Poca.
"This goes to show us that if we can play with anybody in the state, we can be in Charleston in March,'' he said.
GW: Getting wins
This season wasn't supposed to be an automatic success for George Washington, even though the Patriots had played in the two previous Class AAA title games.
With just one of its top six scorers returning, GW might have fallen back in the pack in the MSAC. Only it didn't work out that way.
The Patriots improved to 16-4 with Saturday's nail-biting 51-50 win over Hurricane in the MSAC consolation game, giving GW four wins in the last month over teams that have been ranked at one time or another in AAA this season.
Earlier in the week, GW shaded No. 5 Parkersburg South 53-48 in overtime at the Civic Center - another big step for the Patriots.
"As much as any program, I respect Parkersburg South,'' said GW coach Rick Greene. "They're kind of the trifecta this year - talented, with veteran players and outstanding coaches. They're very classy, and we have an outstanding relationship with them. Any time you can beat them in a scrimmage, anything, it means a lot to you. But with them ranked, it's a big win for us.''
Luke Eddy, GW's returning all-stater and state player of the year candidate, said the program hasn't lowered its goals despite the lack of experience.
"Our chances of making the state tournament . . . it's going to be a tough road,'' he said, "but we have to do the little things to get there. We have to get back on defense. Being strong with the ball in traps. Those are the things we need to do.''
No one had a tougher week than AA No. 2 Poca, which lost its only two games in strangely similar fashion.
In both a 45-43 setback at Nitro and a 46-45 OT loss at Hoover, the Dots were playing defense in the final seconds when the ball was knocked loose, only to see a favorable bounce wind up in the hands of the home team, which hit a short shot at the buzzer.
Dots coach Allen Osborne, however, doesn't think a hangover will affect his squad as the regular season winds down this week.
"We told them we've got some tough games left,'' Osborne said of this week's schedule against Scott, Wayne and Charleston Catholic. "If we handle it right, it prepares us for the tournament, win or lose.
"It's a good situation. Unfortunately, it doesn't feel good when you lose. You want to be successful. The situations we've been in this week will help us in tournament time because tournament games are close. Hopefully we learned from it and will get better. These are all practice games, anyway.''
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or rickr...@wvgazette.com.