With a bevy of talented players on his roster, George Wythe boys basketball coach Willard Coker can find a different scoring threat on any given night.
Tucked away on Coker’s roster are Jarec Brown and Ikechi Chantilou, the only Richmond-area duo to score more than 19 points a game each. He’s also got Darrell Purdie and Zamare Johnston who finished the season averaging double figures.
With another impressive display of cohesion Tuesday night against visiting Armstrong in a 77-43 win in the Region 3B semifinals, the Bulldogs revealed why they will be a tough matchup in their second straight trip to the Class 3 state tournament after running the Wildcats out of the gym.
“When we can get two or three of them playing well, we’re tough,” Coker said of his team after the game.
“And tonight it was more of them playing well than didn’t, and that makes us really tough.”
Chantilou contributed a game-high 26 points for the Bulldogs, and Purdie added 15. Brown and Eugene Williams added 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Having narrowly avoided defeat to the Wildcats earlier in the season after a large lead nearly faltered, Coker warned his team that Armstrong could be even tougher this time, riding on an opening-round win at James Monroe.
"I knew that they were going to be a tough opponent,” Coker said.
“I knew that they would have a fight in them and that they felt like they could beat us, so we had to come out and enforce our will.”
The Bulldogs controlled the game from the opening tip. And if any player embodied Coker’s message of enforcement, it was Chantilou, who was unstoppable at the rim.
“He has the ability to get to the basket just about any time he wants to and that’s just a gift,” Coker said of Chantilou, saying the sophomore guard played beyond his years.
“He’s deceptive. You don’t think he’s that quick, but he is and he was getting to the rim...and he had a pretty big night.”
Of his performance, Chantilou said he doesn’t care about scoring, and as long as his team is winning, he’s happy.
After Wythe finished last season as a state semifinalist, Coker has come to expect performances like Tuesday’s, imploring that his team should know how to handle big occasions to get to the next level.
The occasion will be even greater Friday, as a matchup against John Marshall stands between the Bulldogs and a region title, an achievement Wythe missed last season in a close loss to Phoebus.
“We’re going to play,” Coker said, adding his team will should be able to relax and play its game the way it wants to with a state tournament berth ensured.
“We’re trying to win the regional championship for a better seed. We were in it last year and let Phoebus slip by, so that’s not our goal. Our goal is any game we play in, we’re trying to win.
“We’re going to give them our best shot.”
ARMSTRONG — Toriano Lewis 7, Dominique Finney 17, Antoine Bruce 5, Zarkiel McEachin 6, Shamayah Wright 6, Quran Davis 2, Terryon Carter 0, Charles Coleman 0. Totals: 14 14-24 43.
GEORGE WYTHE — Darrell Purdie 15, Ikechi Chantilou 26, Eugene Williams 10, Jarec Brown 11, Maurice Laster 4, Kevin Hubbard 4, Mark Henriques 2, Jasper Lewis 5, James Jackson 0, Zamare Johnston 0, Carlin Mansfield 0, Aaron Bowe 0. Totals: 31 9-9 77.
Armstrong 9 7 13 14 — 43
George Wythe 17 22 16 22 — 77
3-point goals: — ARM: Shamayah Wright 1 GW: Darrell Purdie 3, Eugene Williams 2, Jarec Brown 1.