West’s playoff journey too short

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 26, 2013

WAXHAW — West Rowan’s journey into the 3A play-offs was all too brief but it certainly wasn’t for lack of effort.

The Falcons had the ball with 17 seconds left and a chance to tie or win against host Marvin Ridge Monday night but were unable to covert. The disappointing result was an 85-82 loss to the Mavericks in the first round of the Midwest 3A Sectional.

West intended to go for the win with their final shot but sharpshooter Celexus Long couldn’t get the open look he wanted.

“He was really on me but I tried to get it off anyway,” Long said of his three point try from the right wing. “We came up short but we fought hard the whole game.”

The Mavericks (15-9) added a Sam Vogt free throw with one second left to secure the win and advance to the second round Wednesday at home against Charlotte Harding.

Falcon coach Mike Gurley said he wanted to go for the win in that final sequence but he had second thoughts after the game.

“I probably over-coached at the end,” Gurley said. “I wish I hadn’t run a play but I was thinking we were on the road and let’s don’t take this into overtime. Let’s see if we can win this thing.”

The way the Falcons shot the long ball, especially in the second half, made their final play a solid gamble. They nailed 10 threes for the game with junior guard Seth Martin notching six of his own, five in the second half. He led the Falcons (12-14) with 22 while Devin Parks powered for 21 inside and Long added 19. Najee Tucker had a strong inside game shooting and rebounding with 10 points and 10 boards before fouling out with 1:50 left to play.

The Mavericks had a decided inside advantage from a pair of 6-5 forwards, John Emezie and Taylor Neal plus the penetrating and dishing skills of senior point guard Logan Jackson. They used their advantage to lead throughout the first half, including a 6-0 run that gave them a 39-32 margin at the break.

But West battled back with long range shooting to catch up in the third. Martin canned one in the final seconds of the period to knot the score at 55-55.

The momentum carried over into the final period as West actually built a 63-59 lead with 6:20 left but once again the Mavericks responded as Neal scored twice to make it 70-65.

“Our guys just didn’t want it to end this way,” stated Marvin Ridge coach Gosnell White, a 36 year veteran with over 500 career victories. “I have to commend them for that. We just wanted to hang on and live to fight another day.”

The key sequence of the game with 17 seconds left began with Neal taking a hard foul on a drive and deciding he wanted to retaliate. A technical foul was called and Martin hit both free shots for West to make it 84-82. West then retained possession to set up their final shot but could not convert.

“It was a tough loss”, said Parks. “We just couldn’t finish but we played the best we could.”

WEST ROWAN (82) —Martin 22, Parks, 21, Long 19, Tucker 10, Reddick 8, Gabriel 2, Hassard.

MARVIN RIDGE (85) — Emezie 22, Neal 17, Jackson 16, Kelcy 12, Watkins 6, Williams 6, Vogt 4, Frye 2, Corday, Ourant.Royer 2, Sells, Allen, Smith.

W. Rowan 16 16 23 27 — 82

M. Ridge 18 21 16 30 —85