Gaston cruises past West End boys in county tourney
Tue. January 14, 2014 at 11:26 p.m. | By J.J. Hicks Staff Writer
West End’s Edward Bell, left, and Levi Weems fight for a rebound with Gaston’s Trevion Rooks during Tuesday night’s first-round game during the Etowah County basketball tournament. (Photo by Eric T. Wright | Gadsden Times | File)
Gaston utilized a strong defensive effort to run away from West End 64-36 in the Etowah County boys high school basketball tournament at Beck Field House on the campus of Gadsden State Community College on Tuesday.
The Bulldogs (7-12) never trailed and led 27-16 at halftime in the first-round game.
Hot shooting combined with pressure defense that led to multiple turnovers allowed sixth-seeded Gaston to take a commanding 46-22 lead after three quarters.
A 17-0 run in the third Gaston all the cushion it would need in advancing to the semifinals of the tournament.
“We really picked it up a lot on defense today,” Gaston coach Buddy Wright said. “We want to come into every game and set the tone defensively. Once your defense is playing good, your offense comes naturally, and when we’re playing good basketball, our defense just comes naturally.
“I was really proud of our effort on defense. Every night, that is our goal.”
Wright also gave credit to the return of one of his key players as being important in the win.
“It really helps to get Trevion Rooks back,” the coach said. “This was his first game back from an ankle injury in football. He brings intensity to our team. We did want to feed off his energy.”
Rooks finished with six points and was active on the defensive end.
A steal and layup by Jordan Douglas gave the Bulldogs an early 9-4 lead. The Patriots (6-13) kept battling, though, and a basket by Levi Weems cut the Gaston edge to 14-10 at the end of the first quarter.
Gaston opened the second quarter with eight straight points to take a 22-10 lead. West End then scored six of the next eight points, capped with a bucket by Dylan Gregory, to get within 24-16. Albert Douglas nailed a 3-pointer with 30 seconds left in the first half to lift the Bulldogs’ advantage back to double digits at the break.
The teams traded baskets to open the third, but Gaston’s defense went into high gear after that, utilizing steals, errant passes and forced travelling calls to go on top 46-18 late in the quarter. West End’s Weems and Edward Bell each hit a shot in the last minute to cut it to 46-22 going into the fourth. The Bulldogs outscored the Patriots 18-14 in the fourth to reach Thursday’s semifinal game against Sardis. Tip off is at 7:30 p.m.
“It’s going to be a big challenge for us,” Wright said. “Sardis is a great basketball team. I think they beat us by 20-something points in a Thanksgiving tournament. We’re going to have our hands full. (Sardis coach) Tracy Cheek is one of the best coaches in this area. To be able to compete against him and his team is going to be a great challenge for us.”
Albert Douglas’ 12 points led the balanced Gaston attack. Shai Ogles had 10 points. Jason Bogle totaled nine points.Weems had 13 points to top West End. Gregory scored eight points. Chase Blanton scored six points.
In the junior varsity tournament, Hokes Bluff topped West End 39-22.
Southside plays Class 4A, No. 9 Hokes Bluff at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in semifinal play.