DENVER — George Washington plays basketball with all the speed of a Vin Diesel movie franchise.
The Class 5A CHSAANow.com No. 1-ranked Patriots jumped out to a 15-point lead after the first quarter and held on to beat No. 8 Smoky Hill 80-73 on Tuesday night.
Jon'il Fugett led the way with 27 points while his brother Calvin nearly matched the effort with 22.
"It's always important to start fast," Jon'il said. "We always win the court, show them our pace and show them how we play."
The Buffaloes (4-2 overall) jumped out to a 9-8 lead early, but the Patriots (6-0) rode a 9-0 run to steal momentum and try to hold it for the rest of the game.
George Washington went into halftime with a 43-28 lead, putting all the pressure on their guests to come out and try to regain control.
The Buffaloes were up for the challenge as they were able to cut into the Patriots' lead, if only slowly. Kenny Foster had been held to less than 10 point in the first half, but was able find scoring lanes and knock down shots to help his team get back in the game.
But the Patriots' ability to force turnovers and get the ball out in transition is their biggest strength. When they're able to do just that, it's going to be difficult for most teams to hang with that pace.
"The key is our defense," George Washington coach Reggie Hammond said. "(The other key is in) the transition and getting the ball out quick."
That was able to happen on Tuesday and it was the backcourt for the Patriots that was able to see the benefits.
Jon'il Fugett was able to knock down four 3-pointers while his brother was effective in driving to the basket.
"Me and Calvin have been playing together for seven or eight years," Jon'il said. "So the chemistry is really good. I really like playing with him. He looks for me. He looks for everyone else, but he especially looks for me."
The season may be young, but Smoky Hill certainly looks the part of a team that can compete in the Centennial League. The design of the Buffaloes' schedule was done so that tough competition could be faced early in order to prepare the players for a potential playoff run.
"We make the schedule with the end in mind," Buffaloes coach Anthony Hardin said. "When you want to maximize your talent and compete for a state title, you're going to have to beat teams like this."
And in the end, the Buffaloes had a chance to do just that. They cut the lead to under 10 points in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter, but costly turnovers and missed free throws sunk any chance they had at pulling even.
The Buffaloes shot 64 percent from the charity stripe and just couldn't seem to knock down a lot of the shots that they needed to.
"We're a very good shooting team, especially from the free throw line," Hardin said. "(George Washington) is a very athletic group and they speed you up, turn you over and it just leaves a very small margin of error for us."