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Westbrook Christian falls to Lanett at regional


Westbrook’s Jonathan Ford gets fouled by Lanett’s Orendaz Holloway during Monday’s game. (Photo by Marc Golden | Gadsden Times)


JACKSONVILLE — Were they a bit wide-eyed? No. Were nerves getting the best of them? Not a chance.

Sometimes, an opposing team just has too many weapons — BIG weapons.

Westbrook Christian’s second ever trip to the Class 2A Northeast Regional boys basketball tournament was a short one, as the sixth-ranked Warriors fell 55-41 to No. 2 Lanett on Monday.

Westbrook (25-5) had a tough time matching up with Lanett (24-5), who were big and physical inside. The Panthers also used speed in the backcourt to force turnovers and, in general, give the Warriors fits on offense.

“I thought we were loose and I thought we came ready to play,” Westbrook coach Seth Ford said. “Certainly, they are a good team. This is the first time we’ve scored under 50 points all year. We play a pretty fast-paced game and their defense and their length just gave us a ton of problems. I’m certainly proud of our heart, proud of our resiliency. We were undersized, a little bit undermanned but played and fought as hard as we possibly could.”

The outside shot kept Westbrook in the game early. The Warriors made four shots from beyond the arc — including three from Alex Perkins and one from Jonathan Ford — in the first quarter and trailed just 13-12 heading into the second. The Warrior faced a three-point deficit at halftime, but the Panthers began to wear them down in the third.

“The first half, we did what we kind of wanted to do,” Lanett coach Richard Carter said. “We wanted to get the ball down the floor, get it out real fast and try to wear them down as much as we possibly could.

“We took their legs from them in the first half, and that’s what we wanted to do.”

Lanett opened the second half on a 10-3 run and never looked back. The closest Westbrook could get down the stretch was when Jerryn Migliore hit a 3-pointer with 5:23 remaining in the game to pull the Warriors within 41-33.

“Give credit to them,” Ford said. “Their defense, their athleticism we had a really hard time dealing with.”

The talk afterward centered around Lanett’s size inside with 6-foot-8 Orendaz Holloway and Westbrook’s struggles to get an easy shot in the paint. The Panthers rotated four players into the game that stood 6-foot-4 or better.

“It’s nothing we can really prepare for,” said Perkins, who scored all 12 of his points on 3-pointers. “We don’t see anything like that around here throughout a whole lineup. It’s tough.”

Leading scorer Colin Edwards agreed.

“It’s always in the back of your mind when you’re going to the basket,” said Edwards, who joined Perkins with 12 points.

Edwards’ first field goal of the game gave the Warriors a 14-13 advantage early in the second quarter. Migliore’s layup 1:15 later gave Westbrook its biggest lead of the contest.

Lanett got the lead back at 18-17 with 4:59 remaining in the first half and, though it stayed close until halftime, the Panthers never were in any danger of giving up the lead again.

“The first half we were settling for threes, but that was because they were playing a 2-3 zone,” Carter said. “At halftime, I told the kids one of the things you have to do against a zone is you gotta penetrate the zone. We were more or less standing around on the outside and passing it over the top (in the first half). They listened well and did what they had to do to get where we are now.”

Holloway led all scorers with 16 points for the Panthers. Jalen Washington scored 11 points and Mandell Ray added 10 points and nine boards.

Migliore added seven points for the Warriors. Ford had five points and seven rebounds.

Carter, a veteran of high school coaching, heaped praise on the Warriors.

“Westbrook Christian was a really, really good basketball team,” the Lanett coach said. “Anybody that’s 28-4, that speaks a lot. That’s a great testament for coach Ford and his players. I appreciate the way they play the game. I’ve been doing this for 42 years now, and I know basketball.

“They do a great job.”