Wave split with Saltillo, eye tourney

Staff Writer

A swarming defense helped turn things around and the most balanced scoring they’ve had all year helped make it stand up as the West Point High girls basketball team took a 54-50 win Friday  over visiting Saltillo on Senior Night.

The win avenged a tough loss at Saltillo last month and gave the Lady Wave the second seed in the district tournament that will be played at West Point next week. West Point will play Saltillo again in the rubber game on the season.

Meanwhile, the West Point boys lost a tough 59-47 decision to the Tigers.

In the girls game, the two teams were deadlocked at 10 after one quarter, but the Lady Tigers seized turnover-fueled momentum with a 21-12 run in the second quarter to lead 31-22 at the half.

West Point came out aggressive on defense in the third quarter and two quick turnovers produced buckets by Shania Givens and Taylor Brownlee. Brownlee added two free throws after being fouled going to the basket, forcing a Saltillo time out.

That slowed the Green Wave rush momentarily and Saltillo went into the final period clinging to a 40-37 lead. But West Point didn’t let up, finally taking the lead two minutes into the period and stretching it to as many as seven before some youthful miscues – a quick unneeded three-point attempt and a cheap foul --  let Saltillo get close at the end.

The mistakes aside, it was a big win for the team. In fact, Coach Dash Daniels had predicted after the close loss earlier that his team would play better in the second meeting.

“We played much better in the second half. The press they ran had us turning it over in the first half, but we executed the press break a lot better in the second half,” Daniels observed.

“Each game has been a learning experience for us. I’m just glad it’s happening before we go into district tournament play. We’ll face them in the first round of the tournament so the win will be a good preaching point to stress that we can beat them and what we need to do,” he continued, noting the difference in the game was the  aggressive defense and patience when fast-breaks weren’t there in the second half.

“We’ll focus on staying consistent for four quarters,” he concluded.

As she has all season, senior standout JaMia Hollings led West Point with 19 points, including nine in the third period. But she got help on several fronts. Taylor Brownlee scored 10 points, Alexis Bell scored eight, and Shania Givens added seven. McKayla Williams and Taylor Fair had four each and Goia Robinson had two. Bell scored five of hers in the final period while Brownlee had four and Givens three to take the pressure off Hollings in the final quarter.

The Lady Wave shot 19 of 36 from the free throw line.
On the boys side, the loss means the Green Wave will be the number 3 seed behind Grenada and Saltillo in the district tournament and will meet the Tigers again in the first round.

West Point fell behind14-8 after one quarter and despite picking up the pace a little in the second quarter, saw the deficit grow to 29-19 at half. The Tigers extended the lead after three quarters and made it stand.

The Wave couldn’t find a way to shut down Saltillo’s outside game as the Tigers bombed away for eight three-pointers in the game. And when they weren’t hitting outside, T. J. Hannah was muscling his way in the middle for 16 points.

Samaj Harris led the Green Wave with 14 points while James Cunningham added 13. Dishoune Cooperwood finished with nine, Kenwaun Randle and Mike Randle had four each and Chiante Henderson had three.