Westbrook Christian rolls past West End

West End/Westbrook: Westbrook's Jon Ford puts up a shot as West End's Braxton Dowdy and Kody Marbut defend during Friday's Class 2A, Area 13 tournament semifinal contest. (Photo by Marc Golden | Gadsden Times)

RAINBOW CITY — Westbrook Christian took care of business early Friday night, racing to a 10-0 lead by the time the game was three minutes old and cruising to a 77-46 win over West End in the Class 2A, Area 13 boys basketball tournament semifinals.

“We want to play fast. That’s the way we’ve played all year,” Westbrook coach Seth Ford said. “It kind of looks crazy and out of control sometimes, but that’s what we practice and that’s the way we play.”

Westbrook used intense defensive pressure to create a frenetic pace and take command early. The Warriors (19-10) consistently converted West End turnovers into easy baskets on the other end. Westbrook was on top 23-4 at the end of the first quarter.

“The 3-point shots weren’t really falling tonight, but we were running our break good and scoring off our defense,” Ford said. “If we can do that, usually we feel pretty good about our situation.”

Sophomore guard Colin Edwards led the Warriors with a game-high 22 points. He said getting off to a quick start was key.

“It’s always big for us to start out real intense. In the games we’ve started out slow, it’s been a slow game,” Edwards said. “If we can get the pace going early, it helps. We jumped out to a 10-0 lead (tonight) and just never looked back.”

Westbrook kept the intensity up for the remainder of the first half and led 40-16 at the break. The lead ballooned to as much as 35 on two occasions in the second half.

“We had some mismatch issues, obviously,” West End coach Keith Thrasher said. “I didn’t think we really had the intensity coming out to start with. I think they had probably 12 layups in the first eight minutes of the game. ... My hat’s off to them. They’ve got a good basketball team, and coach Ford does a good job with them. Our kids played hard. We had some good looks early in the game, we just couldn’t get the ball in the basket.”

Jon Ford added 17 points for the Warriors, while Carson Sharp and Alex Perkins scored 10 apiece. DeVernon Marshall added eight.

West End was led by Caleb Mayo, who scored 17 points, and Raymond Chapman, who finished with 13 points.

Westbrook’s victory pushed the Warriors into Monday’s championship game against Sand Rock, who easily defeated Pleasant Valley in Friday’s other semifinal. The game will be at 7 p.m.

The winner will earn the right to host in the sub-regional round, while the loser will hit the road for the right to advance to the Northeast Regional in Jacksonville.

The teams split a pair of meetings earlier this season. Ford thinks that once again, pace of play will be critical against the Wildcats.

“Both games have really favored their tempo,” Ford said. “Hopefully next time we can force our tempo a little bit more. A slow down game definitely benefits them because they’ve got some bigs inside that we have a hard time stopping. ... A faster tempo would benefit us, but any way we can get a win, we’ll take it.”