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WHITEVILLE—West Brunswick beat Whiteville 53-52 in a conference-opening boys’ basketball game Dec. 20.
A driving layup by West junior guard O.J. Hill gave the Trojans a 50-48 lead and his layup with 50 seconds left gave West a 52-50 lead.
“O.J. came off the bench and played unbelievable,” West coach Eric Davis said.
“We were in the double bonus early and we didn’t attack like we needed to. I felt the lane was open. He just had to have the confidence to drive the lane and go by somebody. He stepped up and had the confidence and made some huge shots for us.”
West senior center Jawon McNeil—who missed most of the third quarter because of a cut lip—made one of two free throws with 35.2 seconds left for a 53-50 lead.
Whiteville made a layup with 21.7 seconds left to cut the lead to 53-52 and had a chance for a three-point play but missed the free throw. The Trojans got the rebound and Gray Cheers had the ball at midcourt as two Whiteville players were aggressively guarding him. They avoided fouling him and got the five-seconds call with 13.4 seconds left. After a timeout, Whiteville missed a game-winning shot and the follow-up.
“Probably the biggest win that we’ve had since I’ve been at West Brunswick,” Davis said, “maybe with the exception of the first playoff win since I’ve been there.”
The victory came fewer than 48 hours after West had lost to Ashley High School in triple overtime, and the Trojans started sluggishly against the Wolfpack, falling behind 7-0.
“We looked like we couldn’t throw the ball to each other, couldn’t pass, catch, anything,” Davis said.
But West played steadily thereafter and trailed 41-37 with fewer than 60 seconds left in the third quarter when sophomore Gray Cheers hit a 3-pointer from the left wing. With 30 seconds left, he hit a 3-pointer from the right wing, giving West a 43-41 lead.
“He made a couple of big shots for us,” Davis said. “He hit the first one, and I’m yelling as Markel (Jones) is coming up the floor, ‘Find Gray, find Gray.’ He made a move and help came and he kicked (the ball) to Gray and Gray made another shot. He’s been shooting the ball like that in the last couple of games.”
On Tuesday against Ashley, Cheers’ long-range 3-pointer in the final seconds forced a third overtime.
Davis also credited Saadiq Johnson’s play for helping West rally in the third quarter against Whiteville.
“He played great defense in the third quarter and really got us back in the game,” Davis said. “I thought he locked down on the point guard and made it really difficult for him.”
At the start of the fourth quarter, Cheers made a steal that led to a basket by McNeil, and then a basket by Cheers put the Trojans ahead 47-43 with 4:38 left.
The Wolfpack rallied and hit a 3-pointer with 2:58 left, tying the score 48-48 and setting up the exciting finish.
Hill finished with 15 points, Cheers 11, McNeil 10, Quentin Ashe six and Phil Gause four.
Davis said he told his team before it got on the bus to travel to Whiteville, “If you want to give me something for Christmas, let’s get this win today.”
And when Davis entered West’s locker room after the game, his team had a greeting for him: “They told me, ‘Merry Christmas,’” he said.
The West Brunswick girls’ varsity lost 59-26 to Whiteville in a conference-opening basketball game Dec. 20.
Whiteville’s 6-foot-3 senior center Dee Jordan was too much for the Lady Trojans to handle in the first half. Her blocked shots and rebounding led to fast-break layups for the Wolfpack, who led 21-4 after the first quarter and 36-8 at the halftime. Jordan had just four points in the half (11 for the game), but teammate Ladavias McMillan scored 21 points in the half (22 for the game).
The Trojans played better in the second half, outscoring the Wolfpack 13-12. In the half, the Wolfpack outscored West 23-18.
“I was proud of the way we played in the second half,” West coach Mark Jones said.
For West, its top scorers were Yana Bland with eight points, Dazia Gause with six and Bre Small with five.
West boys’ JV
West Brunswick fell behind 8-0 but went on to beat Whiteville 39-33 in a conference basketball game Dec. 20.
In the fourth quarter, a three-point play by Tyquan Hill gave West a 33-23 lead. A basket by Chase Hill off a pass by Alex Clarida gave West a 35-31 lead.
For West, Tyquan Hill and Chase Hill each scored nine points. Clarida scored six points, Tyler Stanley five and Landon Patterson and john Jordan four each.
West girls’ JV
The West Brunswick junior varsity girls’ basketball team lost 45-12. Jameisha Sapps and Sherrill Grissett each scored four points. Morgann Tew hit a 3-pointer.
This is the schedule of games for the holiday basketball tourney at Trask High School Dec. 27-28:
6 p.m., main gym: West Brunswick boys vs. Trask; 7:30 p.m.: South Brunswick boys vs. Jones.
6 p.m., auxiliary gym: South Brunswick girls vs. Jones; 7:30 p.m., West Brunswick girls vs. Trask.
Dec. 28, main gym: 6 p.m.: West Brunswick boys vs. Jones; 7:30 p.m.: South Brunswick boys vs. Trask.
6 p.m., auxiliary gym: South Brunswick girls vs. Trask; 7:30 p.m.: West Brunswick girls vs. Jones.