CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- George Washington's players handled everything Capital threw at them Wednesday night and, in the process, threw some very important rankings into disarray.
Jon Elmore's 25 points and Cai Carena's double-double led the way as the Patriots avenged an earlier loss with a 70-61 overtime victory in front of a raucous crowd at Capital High School.
Carena contributed 18 points and 12 rebounds, his second strong game in less than a week, and freshman pivot Anthony Dean also donated a double-double with 12 points and 10 boards as GW's inside game ruled the second half and OT.
GW, which trailed by as many as nine points in the first half, sent the game into OT when Elmore drove the left baseline and dished the ball to Carena for a layup with nine seconds left, knotting it at 59.
"Cai was the difference at Winfield,'' said GW coach Rick Greene. "He's the difference right now. Cai was big and Jon was Jon.
"I thought we played too fast the first half and slowed it down and got a little bit better tempo after that. I thought we grew up and handled the ball and things like that.''
The win for GW (13-4) figured big on three fronts - the Class AAA state poll, the MSAC East Division standings and, most importantly, the upcoming Region 3 seeding for sectional and regional postseason play.
It marked the first loss for Capital in the MSAC East, which puts Woodrow Wilson (3-0) in first and in control and GW (5-1) second, now ahead of the Cougars (3-1). The East champ earns a spot in the title game at the Night of Champions on Feb. 22.
If Capital beats Princeton Friday and Woodrow on Monday in Beckley, it could prompt a three-way tie of teams at 5-1 atop the East, meaning results against West teams would be used to determine the division title. Right now, GW is 5-1 against the West, Woodrow 5-2 and Capital 4-3.
Of course, the ultimate goal is preferred seeding and home-court advantage for what will be an absolute war in the AAA Region 3 event next month, with five top-10 teams all competing - No. 2 South Charleston, No. 4 Woodrow, No. 6 Greenbrier East, No. 7 Capital and No. 10 GW. Only two can advance to the state tournament, and that doesn't include the possibility of a team like Riverside going on a run.
Also of immediate importance for the youthful Patriots was making the plays to win a close game, something they haven't always done in losses to Wheeling Park and SC.
They weathered a big momentum shift with 24 seconds left in regulation when Capital (9-5) took its final lead. Trailing 57-55, the Cougars' Tyler Hurd saved an errant pass from sailing out of bounds and got it to Miguel Bays, who hit a 3-pointer from deep in the right corner while falling out of bounds and being fouled. The shot dropped and so did the free throw, sticking Capital into a 59-57 lead.
Elmore, who had eight rebounds and dished out six assists, then found Carena to tie the game, which went to OT after Capital's Carrington Morris missed a long jumper at the buzzer. In the extra period, Dean scored on a rebound goal and reserve Chance Blaney had a crucial three-point play and GW was in control, up 64-59.