Woodrow Wilson knocked out the upset hopes of Riverside with a strong second half Tuesday night, outscoring the Warriors 43-26 following the break to earn a 79-61 Class AAA Region 3 co-final win at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center.
The Warriors (9-16) jumped out to an early 16-14 first quarter lead and found themselves down by one point (36-35) at the half to a heavily favored Woodrow team that beat them by 43 points less than a month ago.
"We told them not to let what happened the first time get in their minds,'' said Warriors interim coach Chad Metten. "We wanted to come out and play Riverside ball. We told them nobody expects us to be there anyway - the pressure's on Beckley for them to win. We're here as a spoiler."
Senior point guard Andrew Johnson, a three-year starter, paced the Flying Eagles (21-4) with 24 points while Donte' Nabors chipped in 16 points despite suffering bruised ribs in the sectional championship win over Greenbrier East last week.
Woodrow Wilson's winning streak is now up to 17 games heading into the state tournament.
Marcus Reed and Nick Light led all Riverside scorers with 17 points apiece. The Warriors were gunning for their first state tournament spot in 11 years.
Metten couldn't tell what the difference was strategically from the first game against the Flying Eagles on Feb. 7, since he wasn't on the bench that night. A day after coach Dusty Herscher and his staff were suspended for reasons yet to be announced, the Warriors fell to Woodrow 88-45 in Quincy.
"I think the boys' minds were more into it tonight than the first go-round,'' Metten said. "All the stuff with the coaches had just gone down and it was on their minds and in their emotions everywhere. They didn't come together is what I was told, but they came together from the tip tonight and showed Riverside has some talent. Riverside can play when they want to, and we made it farther than any team, I guess, since 2002.''