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SHALLOTTE—Coach Brad Lewis has a theory as to why the West Brunswick High School boys’ basketball team has played so well this season against Jacksonville.
“I guess because it doesn’t say Hanover or Hoggard on the jersey,” Lewis said following the Trojans’ final regular-season home game. “I don’t know if our guys really understand how good that team is.”
Jacksonville, which has been ranked among the top 10 teams in the state for most of the season, beat West Brunswick 68-57 Friday night and swept the season series with the Trojans. But neither win came easy. In both games, the Cardinals pulled away in the final minutes.
West Brunswick played especially well at the defensive end Friday, holding the Cardinals to 41 points through three quarters.
Jacksonville erupted for 27 points in the final period and improved to 7-3 in the Mideastern 3A/4A Conference and 17-5 overall.
“Seventy-five percent of the teams we’ve played this year we’d beat if we play the way we played against them twice,” Lewis said.
Jeremy Hearst scored 19 points, B.J. Middleton added 14 and Keegan Johnson had 10 to lead the Cardinals, who have clinched the conference’s top seed in the state 3A playoffs.
West Brunswick junior guard Pat Kamfolt made five three-pointers and finished with a game-high 21 points. His twin brother, Wally Kamfolt, had two three-pointers and 10 points.
Sophomore center Alfy Hill chipped in 11 points and nine rebounds, junior forward Marcus Jackson had seven points and senior forward Jim Stewart had eight rebounds and four blocked shots for the Trojans.
West Brunswick lost for the 15th time in 17 games and slipped to 0-11 in the conference and 5-17 overall, but Lewis was pleased with the effort.
“They played hard. They competed. There’s nothing that I asked that they didn’t do. I was very proud of them,” he said.
“We didn’t play in spurts tonight. We played the whole time. A lot of that is mindset, and that mindset can be there no matter what’s happening.”
Jacksonville scored the game’s first 12 points, but the Kamfolt brothers combined for three three-pointers in the final five minutes of the first quarter and the Trojans only trailed 18-13 at the end of one period.
West Brunswick limited the Cardinals to two field goals in the second quarter and cut the deficit to 24-21 at halftime.
In the second half, Jacksonville came out in a full-court press and intent on crashing the offensive boards, sending two or three players into the paint for every rebound.
The Cardinals scored eight unanswered points midway through the third quarter and took a 41-32 lead into the final period.
Jacksonville poured it on in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Trojans 23-10 during the first five minutes.
Pat Kamfolt hit two three-pointers and Wally Kamfolt made one as the Trojans cut a 22-point deficit to 11 in the final 1:14.
Lewis said West Brunswick played good defense throughout the game, although Jacksonville’s rebounding made a difference in the fourth quarter.
“The first half I thought we did a great job on the boards, even the third quarter, but the fourth quarter it seemed like an obvious advantage on the offensive glass for them,” Lewis said.
“I thought the fourth quarter our defense wasn’t bad. I thought we got killed on the boards all of a sudden. I don’t think they started doing anything to our defense. They started rebounding and really hurting us on second shots.
“They were so big we were determined to make them hit outside shots. They only hit one three I think all night. Their strength is inside so we tried to take that away and see what happened.”
Lewis said defense is the key for West Brunswick.
“That’s the thing that they have to understand. They have a chance to be good, but offense is so hard for us. It’s so hard for us to score at times that we just have to defend.
“We really don’t believe in ourselves as much as we should, which is just kind of the culture. It’s hard to get over that losing. It’s hard to win when you play waiting to lose.”
West Brunswick wrapped up conference play Tuesday against New Hanover and will end the regular season Friday at North Brunswick. The Mideastern Conference tournament starts Tuesday, Feb. 19.
J’ville 18 6 17 27—68
W. Brun. 13 8 11 25—57
Jacksonville scoring: Hearst 19, Middleton 14, Johnson 10, Shivers 7, Brooks 6, Williams 4, Martin 3, Ward 2, Henderson 2.
West Brunswick scoring: P. Kamfolt 21, A. Hill 11, W. Kamfolt 10, Jackson 7, Buffkin 2, Sanders 2, Daniels 2, Stewart 2.