ELIZABETHTOWN — After the West Columbus boys basketball team picked up its third win in a span of nine days against Red Springs on Thursday in the form of a 57-50 win in the Three Rivers Conference tournament semifinals, the Red Devils’ head coach said that the Vikings had something that his team couldn’t overcome.
“Some of those teams just have your number,” Glenn Patterson said. “And they had our number this year.”
The No. 3 Red Devils (17-8) fell into an early hole and No. 2 West Columbus’ (21-5) defense and fast breaks held the lead from the beginning to the end of the contest held at East Bladen.
Despite a first half where Red Springs failed to score for the first 4 1/2 minutes and was down by double digits for much of the second period, to be down 27-18 was a good sign for Patterson.
“We played terrible in the first half, and we were only down nine points. I told them that speaks volumes. That means that we can be in the ballgame,” he said. “It was a terrible shooting ballgame, but all in all we were still in it.”
The Red Devils came used a scoring run out of halftime to cut the lead to 29-26 following a Nichorie West layup with 5:30 left in the third. The three senior guards for Red Springs — West, Monte’ Wilkerson and Caleel Mitchell — combined for 13 of the team’s 19 points in the period.
After the lead was trimmed down, West Columbus’ Jake Brownlee answered with five straight points to spark a run that took the lead out to 36-26 with 3:30 left in the third period. But the Red Devils answered behind a scoring late in the third, capped off with a Jerry McDowell 3-pointer to beat the buzzer and give the Vikings a 41-37 lead heading to the final period.
“We just wanted to cut it down to within reach and give ourselves an opportunity to win the ballgame in the fourth, and we did,” Patterson said. “We didn’t get back on the defensive end and they got a lot of transition baskets. My bigs, their job is to get back and defend and they didn’t do that.”
Much like the third, Red Springs had a run that threatened the Vikings’ lead, as Jayshawn Carthen’s layup with five minutes to go made it a 43-42 ballgame. And like he did after the first Red Springs run, Brownlee put space between the teams as he scored five of his nine fourth-quarter points on back-to-back trips down the floor to take the lead to 48-42 to lock the game.
West Columbus plays Fairmont tonight in the championship game at 7:30 p.m. in the rubber match of the season series. The Vikings won, 84-75, in triple overtime at Fairmont early in the year, and the Golden Tornadoes returned the favor by holding West Columbus to its lowest scoring output of the season in a 68-22 win in Cerro Gordo in January.
Brownlee had a game-high 28 points.
Mitchell had 15 points and Wilkerson added 12 points.
West Columbus girls upset Red Springs
The clock will have to wait another day to strike midnight on the Cinderella of the Three Rivers Conference girls tournament.
West Columbus ran out to a 12-point halftime lead, endured a Red Springs comeback and finished strong to top the Lady Red Devils in a 48-44 win to advance to today’s championship.
No. 6 West Columbus (14-13) takes on host and top seed East Bladen for the girls championship that tips off at 6 p.m.
No. 2 Red Springs (18-7) scored six points in the first quarter and to trail 17-6, and 27-15 at the half, but showed fight in the second half.
In the third, the Lady Red Devils scored 20 points and led 35-33 heading to the fourth quarter.
The Lady Vikings took the lead back with a little more than four minutes to go in the game.
Taya Jones made it a 45-44 game with 24 seconds left, and had a chance to tie the game in the closing with a layup that rimmed out.
Jones had 20 points and Taylynn Atkinson had 10 points. West Columbus’ Annela Tiffany scored a team-high 19 points and Tah’nijah McKoy had 15 points.
Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977 or by email at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.