DENVER — Corey Seng had a career night in helping ThunderRidge take down top-ranked George Washington.
The senior, who entered the game averaging 22.5 points per contest, dropped 32 points as the No. 3 Grizzlies rallied for a 71-61 victory in a top-5 Class 5A matchup. The 32 points were a career high.
"We battled back from being behind, and it just felt great," Seng said after the game. "Our will to win there at the end was just incredible."
Seng has scored in double digits in each of ThunderRidge's 12 games this season, and surpassed 20 points eight times. He evenly spread his scoring throughout the night, notching seven in both the first and second quarters, eight in the third, and 10 in the fourth.
"I've learned to pace myself over the years, to keep it up the whole game," said Seng, whose scoring average ranks him in the top-5 in 5A. "That's really helped me, especially this year."
ThunderRidge trailed 34-27 at halftime, but quickly tied the game in the third quarter.
With 4:43 to play, George Washington star Jervay Green hit a 3-pointer to give his team the lead back at 39-37. But Seng answered on the next trip down the court with a 3 of his own to put ThunderRidge back up 40-39.
The Grizzlies wouldn't relent from there, going up 49-42 after a third quarter in which they outscored George Washington 22-8.
"That was a big quarter," said ThunderRidge coach Joe Ortiz.
At halftime, "We just talked about getting our shots," Ortiz said. "They're going to be aggressive, they're going to take chances, and we had to be able to withstand that and move it and find open guys."
Ortiz added that George Washington's speed was something his team struggled with and needed to adjust to.
"What we have to figure out is how to guard that speed," Ortiz said. "Oh my god. That first quarter, they were just — we took a standing eight-count. Man. They went after us. But I'm very pleased. We had a lot of heart, a lot of fight."
Added Seng: "They are the quickest team in the state, by far, and it was really hard to adjust to that early on."
But ThunderRidge did adjust, wearing the Patriots down by getting to the basket — and the free-throw line. Juniors Justin McCaw (13 points) and Kaison Hammonds (12 points) were a big part of that.
As a result, the Grizzlies improved to 11-1 this season, including a perfect 8-0 against in-state competition. ThunderRidge's lone loss game to Godby (Fla.) at the Tarkanian Classic in Las Vegas just prior to break.
George Washington also entered the game unbeaten against in-state foes at 7-0, and also had suffered its only loss to an out-of-state foe — Utah's Lone Peak — at the Tarkanian Classic.
The Patriots (10-2) are loaded with talent, and were led by Green's 16 points despite the fact that the senior injured a finger on his right hand in the first minute of the game. (Green appeared to reaggravate the injury midway through the fourth quarter.)
Junior Tre Pierce was also a force on both ends for George Washington, blocking three shots, and changing many others. He finished with 12 points.
Calvin Fuggett Jr. added 11 points for George, and his brother Jon'il had nine.
That ThunderRidge won this big matchup on the road was not lost on the Grizzlies.
"This is a tough situation to be in," Ortiz said. "All these games help. Everything gives you confidence."
"Being able to adjust to a new atmosphere, and new hoops, will help us in the playoffs," Seng added.