Westbrook Christian beats Gaston 53-35
Mon. February 11, 2013 at 11:35 p.m. | By Nick Johnston Sports Writer
Westbrook’s Jonathan Ford looks for an opening around Gaston’s Trevion Rooks during Monday’s game. (Photo by Eric T. Wright | Gadsden Times)
RAINBOW CITY — The fourth time was the charm.
The Class 2A, No. 6 Westbrook Christian boys basketball team defeated Gaston 53-35 Monday night to win the Area 11 tournament championship.
This was the fourth straight appearance in the area tournament title game for the Warriors, but each of the previous three times they couldn’t get it done.
But, as coach Seth Ford said, the Warriors wouldn’t be denied this time.
“It’s great,” said Ford, who’s in his fifth season with the team. “I wouldn’t want to do it with any other group of kids. They do everything the right way, from practice to the way they conduct themselves in the classroom. ... And this is the first group of kids I got as B-teamers, so to get to grow with them and for us to get here together, it’s pretty special.”
Westbrook (25-4) advanced to the sub-region round of the playoffs, where it’s sudden death. It will host Section on Friday night for a ticket to the Northeast Regional tournament at Jacksonville State next week.
Gaston, who dropped to 6-15 on the season, travels to North Sand Mountain for sub-region with the chance to earn the same thing.
Tournament MVP Colin Edwards led the Warriors, scoring 11 of his game-high 24 points in the third quarter.
The Warriors led 23-12 at halftime but was somewhat sluggish through the first two quarters, so the spark from Edwards was needed.
“Really, I thought their defense took us out of what we wanted to do,” Ford said of the first half. “Gaston is so improved. Each time we’ve played them they’ve just gotten better and better. I think these guys kind of sensed it. They had an opportunity with an 11-point lead and they weren’t going to be denied.”
Gaston kept it close in the first quarter as, despite two 3-pointers from Jonathan Ford, Westbrook couldn’t consistently drain shots from the field or the free-throw line.
The Bulldogs eventually pulled within 12-10 on Braxton Collins’ layup early in the second quarter, but Westbrook responded with a quick 8-0 run to take control of the game. Edwards, Alex Perkins and Brien Welch each hit shots during run.
Edwards owned the third quarter, though, as the junior made everything from contested layups to fadeaway jumpers and also had a 3-pointer.
Westbrook took a 39-19 lead into the fourth quarter and continued to use fullcourt pressure defense against Gaston until the 4:14 mark. By then, the Warriors had built a 49-26 advantage.
Ford ended the night with 16 points for the Warriors. For Gaston, Albert Douglas scored a team-high 11 points, Trevion Rooks had nine points and Collins added eight points.
It wasn’t a perfect performance by the Warriors, as they made just 7 of 15 free throws and at times couldn’t keep Gaston off the boards. Ford said he’s happy with where his team is now, he knows improvement is needed for a run through the rest of the postseason.
“Defensive rebounding,” Ford said. “We gave them way too many second-chance points. And they’re very agressive going to the offensive boards, too, and have some very good athletes.
“Free throws, that’s kind of been the story of our year. We’ve been good in spurts and then there’s been spurts where we’ve been bad. That’s something we really need to figure out if we’re going to make a deep run.
“But, again, I’m proud of our heart. I’m proud of our resolve just to find a way to overcome adversity and to get a win over a really, really good team. There’s always stuff you can work on, but I’m extremely pleased with where we’re at, too.”