J.I. Burton's Alex Keys, shown above shooting a foul shot, went 9-for-10 from the free throw line and led the Raiders with 23 points.
WISE — Top-seeded Eastside’s Region 1A West berth is set in stone. The only thing a Cumberland Conference 48 semifinals loss to Castlewood could hurt was the Spartans’ pride.
Evidently, that was painful enough.
Thanks to the Blue Devils’ 75-69 upset of Eastside at Virginia-Wise’s Prior Center, the conference championship game will be fraught with meaning.
Castlewood (11-9) meets J.I. Burton (12-10) in tonight’s loser-go-home final, which tips off at 8 o’clock. The Raiders bushwhacked second-seeded Thomas Walker 66-52 in Friday’s opener.
The Spartans outrebounded Castlewood 54-30 but got blistered on the perimeter by the Blue Devils.
Tyler Austin led Castlewood with 28 points and five assists. He went 9-for-18 from the field, hitting four of his five shots outside the arc.
Collin Moore banged two of his three trey attempts en route to 19 points for the Blue Devils. Dylan Trent hit both 3s he unleashed, finishing with 13 points. Brad Traverse added 10 points and grabbed eight rebounds. Dakota Grizzel also had eight boards.
Ryan Milgrim led Eastside with 21 points. Derrick Cusano added 14 points and nine rebounds, Wes Yeary had 10 points and 16 rebounds, and Matt Green had 11 points and eight rebounds for the Spartans (18-6), who beat Castlewood twice during the regular season.
In the opener, Thomas Walker (13-10) roared out to a 20-11 lead in the first quarter only to have the tables turned in the second. The Pioneers clawed and scratched with Burton in the third period, but the Raiders ascended in the fourth, hitting 11 of their 13 game-total free throws that period.
Alex Keys was the steady hand for Norton, going 9-for-10 from the charity stripe. He hit six field goals, including a couple trifectas.
Austin Johnson added 18 for Burton and Ervin Beaty scored 14. Kelly Thompson grabbed 11 rebounds. Williams also bragged on the stealth contributions he got from his bench.
Hunter Cope scored 17 points and corralled 15 rebounds for Thomas Walker (13-10). Zack Bailey scored 12.
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