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The West Brunswick varsity boys’ basketball team led North Brunswick by a single point heading into the fourth quarter of the Waccamaw 2A/3A Conference matchup Jan. 2 in Shallotte. The Trojans, who had lost their last six meetings against the Scorpions, used a 10-0 scoring run to begin the fourth quarter and held North to six points in the final period as West claimed a 66-53 victory.
Eric Davis, in his third year as head coach for the Trojans, secured his first win against the Scorpions.
“It was a good win against a good basketball team,” said Davis, whose squad (5-5, 2-0) moved into first place in the league standings.
Davis said North Brunswick got several easy looks at the basket in the third period and it prompted a defensive switch that fueled the fourth-quarter spurt by the Trojans.
“We were switching on ball screens for the first three quarters and (North) took advantage of some situations where we had big guys covering guards.
“We switched to a matchup zone in the fourth quarter and did a nice job forcing them into jump shots.”
West Brunswick guard Markel Jones converted a pair of North Brunswick turnovers into layups in transition for the Trojans, which highlighted the run and pushed West’s advantage to 58-47 midway through the closing frame. North was unable to trim its deficit below nine points the rest of the way as West held on for a 13-point victory.
West sophomore Gray Cheers led all scorers with 18 points while Jones added 17. Phil Gause and O.J. Hill each chipped in nine. Zaire Hankins finished the contest with seven points.
Jawon McNeil (four points) and Antonio Clarida (two) rounded out the scoring for West Brunswick.
Nik Sloan led the Scorpions with 15 points off the bench. Adam Jacobs netted 13 points, 11 of which came in the second half. Jaeden Phillips scored seven points and Mitch Layton and Brandon Weaver scored four apiece for North Brunswick.
West Brunswick fell behind 4-2 before taking its first lead midway through the opening period on a midrange jumper by Jones. The Trojans built a six-point advantage at the end of the second quarter and North would not lead again until Jacobs made a pair of free throws to push the Scorpions ahead 43-41 late in the third.
West regained the lead for good on the final play of the third quarter when Gause hit a turnaround jumper as time expired to stake the Trojans to a 48-47 edge heading into the fourth quarter.
Davis said he was proud of the way his team handled the pressure late in the game against North. His team has surrendered several comfortable leads in the fourth quarter this season.
“We had a lead against Ashley and lost that game,” Davis said. “We blew a lead against Whiteville but still held on to win, and we lost at the buzzer against Trask after having a lead in that one.
“I was proud of how our guys responded tonight. We have to find a way to finish games and we did a better job of that tonight.”
West JV boys win
West Brunswick outscored North Brunswick 26-4 in the third quarter en route to a 66-26 victory in a boys’ junior varsity basketball game Jan. 2.
West, 7-1 overall, led 29-20 at the half. A 3-point play by Hunter Ashburn put the Trojans ahead 47-24 and a three-point play by Charlie Carcich gave West a 51-24 lead. West outscored North 11-2 in the final quarter.
Nasir Murray led West in scoring, with 12 points. Fulwood finished with 11 points. Ashburn hit two 3-pointers in scoring 10 points. Chase Hill scored nine points.
Other West scorers: Tyquan Hill 4, Tayevonne Evans 3, Alex Clarida 2, Tyler Stanley 4, Brien Hewett 3, Carcich 4, John Jordan 4.