WISE — And just like that, southwest Virginia is set for another Eastside and J.I. Burton match up as both teams moved past their quarterfinal games. The Raiders were able to oust George Wythe 46-36 at the Prior Center and the Spartans outlasted Auburn 63-60 in overtime.

The Raiders couldn’t find consistency in the first half as they went into halftime down by three points. But, they banded together in the second half to take the victory over the Maroons.

“The first half was just a struggle; really the game was a struggle. But from day one’s first practice, we talked about team spirit,” Burton head coach Aaron Williams said. “It’s something you can’t measure, but I think that was the most important piece of us winning this game.”

Caleb Williams led the Raider offense with 17 points and Houston Thacker earned a double-double of 12 points and 14 rebounds.

“In the first half, they were playing a lot harder than we were,” Caleb Williams said. “We were lucky to just be down by three. We picked it up in the second half, but we have to give them credit. They were wanting to win, too.”

Though Burton trails 3-2 in the series, they won most recently taking the Region 2D championship. They hope to take that momentum into tonight’s semifinals against the Spartans.

“It’s an even matchup. They hate to lose to us and we hate to lose to them. In about maybe 15 or 20 years, we’re going to look back and smile,” coach Williams continued.

“Somebody’s going to win and somebody’s going to lose. But, I’ll say this: We’ve been really good for Eastside this year and Eastside has been really good for us. And we felt like that’s an advantage coming into this game. We’ve had some intense battles and close games and we’ve tried to learn and grow in those situations.

“So here we are. Somebody’s going to win and somebody’s going to lose. But I know one thing: the teams are going to come out and play hard,” coach Williams said.

“There are no secrets. They know us and we know them. So we are just looking forward to the matchup,” Caleb Williams said.

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