Edison senior Nader Chirchi stood patiently at the edge of the paint, poised in case a West Potomac player drove to the basket in the closing moments of Thursday’s Class 6 Region C semifinal.
Edison stands tall late, upends West Potomac to earn trip to states
First-year Edison coach Tre’ Ford had been preaching defense all year, so it only stood to reason that the Eagles punched their ticket to the state tournament with one final stand, completing a 12-point second-half comeback.
“Coach came up to me before the play, yelling at me to step it up,” Chirchi said. “So that’s what we did. We stepped it up.”
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Both the Eagles (21-6) and the Wolverines (17-9), with five new starters, could very well have labeled the 2022-23 campaign a “rebuilding year.” Both decided against it.
West Potomac won nine games by two or fewer possessions en route to a Patriot District championship, playing with more pace and aggression as the season progressed. Edison leaned on its senior class. The Eagles’ motivation was to finally make the state tournament. The onus was on its seniors to lead by example.
On Saturday, Edison will face No. 5 Hayfield (26-1) for the fourth time this season, with the winner taking home the region title.
“I told them, ‘It’s tough to play for me — you have to grind on defense to play for me,’ ” Ford said. “So right now, I can’t get this smile off my face.”
West Potomac matched Edison’s effort throughout. Just minutes in, the Wolverines had drawn three charges, invigorating their home crowd. By halftime, West Potomac had built a 31-19 lead.
“That wasn’t the first time we’ve had adversity,” said Edison sophomore Anthony Saunders, who had a team-high 15 points. “We never feel like we’re [out].”
The Eagles clawed their way back, trimming the deficit to seven before Saunders closed the third quarter with a half-court buzzer-beater to cut the Wolverines’ lead to four. With three minutes left, senior Ruben Garces connected from deep, giving Edison its first lead since the first quarter.
From there, Chirchi and the Eagles’ defense took control, yielding just two points the rest of the way.
“That’s our guy,” Garces said. “We knew he was going to come up clutch.”