Radford High School basketball coach Rick Cormany has the Bobcats back into the state 1A quarter finals after the team’s 39-33 win over George Wythe Saturday night. The defending state champs had to rally late in the fourth quarter to pull out a win in overtime at Virginia High in Bristol.
Cormany called it a good win over a quality team. “It was a defensive war as you can see by the final score,” he said.
The two teams have become natural rivals over the past 10 years, and made it a little more interesting for Cormany who graduated from George Wythe.
The longtime Bobcat coach admitted GW threw everything they could against his offense that had not had any problem in scoring leading up to this game. He joked that the GW even brought the kitchen sink using as many as five different defensive combinations to slow them down.
The Maroons also came into the contest with a high scoring offense, and it was the Bobcats who slowed them down with a mix of man-to-man and zone defenses.
Cormany said it was important to get some big stops at critical times.
“Just getting stops at crucial times when we went down four with three or so minutes to go was big. Both teams played great defense but ours may have been just a little better down the stretch. We had a couple shots go down and they didn’t. It could have easily gone either way,” he said.
Miles Jones led Radford with 15 points, while Quinton Morton-Robertson chipped in 13.
But it might been the defensive side of the court that Morton-Robertson pulled out all the stops on this night. He helped to hold George Wythe’s top scorer, Malik Johnson, to seven points.
The Maroons did not score in the overtime, while the Bobcats hit for six points to pull out the win. Radford is now 23-5 on the season. George Wythe fell to 23-2.
In order to come away with back-to-back championships, Cormany said it will take a better execution on offense, and his team will have to continue to play solid on the defensive end. “We’re still taking to many shortcuts, and we’ve got to change that,” he said.
Last year, the Bobcats’ cast of characters were a little different with three seniors leading the way. This year, Cormany has to reload and is depending on a mixture of underclassmen including Morten-Robertson and Jones.
Last year, Radford downed Lancaster 54-44 in the state championship. It was Radford’s fifth basketball championship including three in the last seven years (2009, 2011 and 2013).
At Radford, Cormany has won 16 of the last 17 regular season championships in the Three Rivers District. That also includes 13 of 14 tournaments titles, winning the last two Conference 45 championships, four Region C titles, the 2014 1A West title, state runner up three times and has played in the state final four seven times. He has won over 200 games as a coach at Radford and Rocky Gap.
Radford and George Wythe have become familiar with each other as the Bobcats took last year’s west regional contest enroute to the state finals. Either could make it to this year’s finals with the possibility the two could play in the finals.
Cormany also admitted there are a couple of teams from the west end of the state that could make it to this year’s finals including George Wythe.
“The West teams are very balanced. On any given night, anyone could win. Don’t know that much about the East yet but all four West teams are very capable,” he said.
George Wythe will play Altavista Combined School Friday at 4:45 p.m., while Radford faces off with Mathews at 6:30 p.m. Both games will be played at Virginia High School in Bristol. The semi-finals are scheduled for Saturday, also at Virginia High with the state championship set for March 9 in Richmond.