No. 5 Westbrook Christian falls to No. 2 Lanett 61-50
Sat. February 22, 2014 at 1:39 p.m. | By J.J. Hicks Staff Writer
Westbrook Christian's Colin Edwards drives against Lanett's Marlon Bridge Jr. during Saturday's Class 2A Northeast Regional game in Jacksonville. (Photo by Dave Hyatt | Gadsden Times)
JACKSONVILLE — Class 2A, No. 5 Westbrook Christian came up one game short of reaching the state title tournament with a 61-50 loss to No. 2 Lanett in the boys Northeast Regional high school basketball tournament finals Saturday.
The Warriors (25-6) stayed close throughout, but after taking a two-point lead early in the fourth quarter, they hit a shooting drought that allowed the Panthers to go on a 17-4 run that sealed the victory. The biggest culprit in Westbrook’s downfall was its field-goal shooting. The Warriors shot just 29.3 percent from the field, including hitting only 7 of 26 from behind the 3-point line.
“We showed a lot of passion, and that’s what this time of year is all about,” Westbrook coach Seth Ford said. “They (Lanett) are a very good defensive team. They have a lot of length, they protect the basket and they’re capable of putting a lot of pressure on your wings because they have 6-foot-6, 6-foot-8 guys who can protect the rim.
“Offense hasn’t been our strength all year. We knew from the start of the year we weren’t going to be a team that hung our hats on offense. It’s about our defense. Their (shooting) percentages weren’t much better than ours. They got a few more shots because of their offensive rebounds, but I was very proud of how we defended.”
The Panthers shot 36.7 percent from the field in the game.
Colin Edwards, who was chosen The Gadsden Times’ All-Etowah County Player of the Year the past two seasons, finished his career with a double-double, 13 points and 16 rebounds, to go with five blocked shots. While he was not ready to play his final game under Ford yet, Edwards said he has enjoyed the ride.
“This year has been awesome,” Edwards said. “This whole year has been a huge testament to who God is. At the beginning of the season, we gave it to Him and committed to Him on the court and off the court.
“Of course we’re upset, we’re frustrated. We didn’t reach our goal, but I’m just going to choose to look back and be grateful to God for my teammates, my coaches, the fans, parents, anybody who has supported us along the way. We’re so blessed with so much more than many people get to have.”
Westbrook trailed 27-22 coming out of halftime. Lanett extended its lead to 37-29 on a pair of free throws by Justin Jones with 2:31 left in the third quarter. The Warriors then finished the quarter on a 7-0 run, capped by a free throw from Noah Hunt, to get within 37-36 with eight minutes to go.
Cameron Trammell opened the fourth quarter with a layup for the Panthers to push the edge to three points. Westbrook countered with a 3-pointer by Jerryn Migliore and a layup by Kyle Leonard to go up 41-39, its first lead since the first quarter.
Things went awry for the Warriors after that. A cold spell from the floor, which included eight consecutive missed field-goal attempts, allowed Lanett to grab a 56-45 advantage with 57 ticks left on the clock. There simply wasn’t enough time for Westbrook to mount a rally after that.
“I’m just so proud of our guys,” Ford said. “We were so excited to be here, thankful to be here, but our goal was to make it to the final four. We weren’t satisfied with being here.
“They (the players) did everything I asked them to do. We’re a little undersized, maybe gave up a little bit on athleticism, but I’d take this team’s heart over anybody’s. Our fanbase was absolutely crazy getting behind us, so we’re so thankful for that. They (Lanett) just made their free throws late and made it something we couldn’t get back into.”
“You have to give Westbrook all the credit in the world, they played a great basketball game,” Lanett coach Richard Carter said.
The Warriors came out of the gates hot. Edwards and Leonard each hit a 3-pointer and Leonard sunk a layup to give Westbrook an 8-4 lead with 4:26 remaining in the first quarter.
The Warriors would not make another field goal in the quarter, though, which helped spur a 12-1 run by the Panthers that gave them a 16-9 advantage going into the second.
Lanett took its first double-digit lead at 20-10 following a layup by Kendrick Ray early in the second quarter. However, the Warriors slowly chipped away at the deficit. A bucket by Kyle Edwards with 38 seconds to go in the first half got Westbrook within five points at the break.
“God blessed us with a team that gelled very well together,” Leonard said. “We looked up to the seniors and they did a great job of leading us. When we look back, this will definitely be one of the teams that goes down in the record book for Westbrook.”
Leonard, a sophomore, scored 13 points. Seniors Migliore and Austin Lockridge chipped in six points each.
Trammell’s 13 points led Lanett. Anquaevious Pollard, an eighth-grader, recorded a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds. Orendaz Holloway scored nine points. Ray totaled eight points and nine rebounds.