Wolver­ines im­pose their will

West­lake uses de­fense to beat Lackey in 2A South sec­tion fi­nal

Maryland Independent - - Close To History - By AJ MA­SON aj­ma­son@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @aj­ma­son301

En­ter­ing the Class 2A South Re­gion play­offs, the West­lake boys bas­ket­ball team was on a three-game los­ing skid. Since then, the Wolver­ines have put that buga­boo be­hind them with stal­wart de­fense.

In Thurs­day night’s 2A South Sec­tion I cham­pi­onship, third-seeded West­lake put the clamps down on top-seeded Lackey in the sec­ond half en route to a 63-46 vic­tory in In­dian Head.

With the game tied at 17 mid­way through the sec­ond quar­ter, West- lake ended the first half on a 13-4 run and took a 12-point lead at the end of three quar­ters. In the fi­nal pe­riod, the Wolver­ines held their ground as they made shots tough around the bas­ket for Lackey and forced nu­mer­ous turnovers, turn­ing them into easy bas­kets at the other end.

Af­ter lead­ing 12-11 af­ter the first quar­ter, West­lake outscored the Charg­ers 51-35 in the last three quar­ters.

The Wolver­ines (19-8 over­all) ad­vanced to their fourth straight re­gional cham­pi­onship game, but fell in the 2A South fi­nal, 88-72.

Last sea­son, West­lake fell to Gwynn Park 79-69 in Brandy­wine in the 2A South ti­tle game.

“Four years in a row we are in the re­gional cham- pi­o­nship,” said West­lake head coach Ed­ward Mou­ton Sr., who is one win away from his 100th ca- reer vic­tory while at the helm of the Wolver­ines. “We were in a three-game slump, but we are jelling at the right time in the play­offs. We’ve im­proved our de­fense and are creat- ing turnovers and turn­ing them into points.”

West­lake se­nior Jeff Sim­mons, the team’s lead­ing scorer at 21 points per con­test, fin­ished with 23 points on the night to go along with five steals.

Ju­nior Jai­mon Cheek was a force in­side, fin­ish- ing with a double-double of 14 points and 12 re- bounds, while se­nior Amir Lawrence also had his way in the paint to add 11 points and nine re­bounds.

“This was def­i­nitely our big­gest win of the sea­son and this gives us some mo­men­tum for the re­gional fi­nal,” Sim­mons said. “In the sec­ond half, we just lim­ited Lackey’s sec­ond-chance op­por­tuni- ties and got the ball out in tran­si­tion. We knew what it felt like to lose in the re­gion fi­nal last year, so we want this one. We want to get to states.”

West­lake led 34-21 early in the third quar­ter, but Lackey did not go away as it went on an 11-1 run that was capped by a three-pointer from se­nior Destin In­gram (teamhigh 13 points), cut­ting the Wolver­ines’ lead to 3532 with 4 min­utes 30 sec- onds left in the quar­ter.

How­ever, West­lake re­sponded with an 11-2 run that was capped by a Sim- mons three at the buzzer to push the lead to 46-34 en­ter­ing the fourth.

“I knew Lackey had a short bench. We just mixed it up into a 3-2 zone and a half court man-to­man de­fense,” Mou­ton said. “We wanted to make them earn it and make things tough.”

The Charg­ers did not get any closer than 10 points in the fi­nal pe­riod as West­lake was able to con­trol the tempo for the rest of the game. The Wolver­ines con­nected on 14 of 20 free throws (70 per­cent) in the game, with Sim­mons go­ing 9 of 10.

Lackey (17-7), which de­feated Thomas Stone 81-75 in over­time in Tues­day’s sec­tion semi­fi­nal, was with­out its lead­ing scorer and se­nior guard Ha­keem Everett, who was sus­pended for Thurs­day’s game. Lackey head coach Sean Fox did not dis­close the rea­son for the sus­pen­sion.

“West­lake just ex­e­cuted a lit­tle bet­ter than us, made tough shots and got to the bas­ket and we missed our op­por­tu­ni­ties,” Fox said. “It was tough not hav­ing Ha­keem’s scor­ing, but I couldn’t have asked for a bet­ter ef­fort for our guys for play­ing hard un­til the fi­nal buzzer sounded. I’m happy that as a first-year coach we had one of the best sea­sons in eight years here.”

PHOTO BY JERRY BALLENGEE

West­lake se­nior Amir Lawrence blocks Vin­cent Parker of Lackey shot at­tempt in the first half of Thurs­day night’s Class 2A South Re­gion Sec­tion I boys bas­ket­ball fi­nal. West­lake won the con­test 63-46 to ad­vance to Satur­day’s re­gional cham­pi­onship game.

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