E.A. Sports Today

White Plains pulls away from J’ville

Last minute of first half, first minute of second half critical in 4A Area 11 Tournament showdown

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Michael McGuirk buried three straight 3-pointers to open the second half and give White Plains the momentum it needed to beat Jacksonville 67-53 in the Class 4A Area 11 tournament Thursday night at Saks.

The second-seeded seventh-ranked Wildcats will play top-seeded No. 3 Saks for the area title Saturday at 3 p.m. The winner hosts the loser of the Area 12 final between Cherokee County and Hokes Bluff; the loser goes on the road to play the Cherokee County-Hokes Bluff winner.

McGuirk’s 3s extended a run that began with White Plains scoring the final six points of the first half to take a 28-24 halftime lead.

“They were big,” McGuirk said. “I just got in a rhythm and started hitting them. That was a big momentum boost right there.”

Jacksonville was leading 24-22 heading into the final 30 seconds of the half, but in an instant Eli Hightower scored a basket to tie it, Kevin Carr converted on a two-on-one with Lawrence Jackson for the sixth lead change of the half and Jack Guthrie buried a jumper right before the horn to send the Wildcats into the lockers ahead 28-24.

No sooner had the crowd got reacquainted with their seats in the third quarter then McGuirk went on his run. He buried two 3-pointers from the left corner and one from the top of the key to make it 37-25.

“That was pretty much the game-changer,” Jacksonville coach Ryan Chambless said. “We talked about being in good position being tied at 24. We even talked about them coming out in that four-out look and how we have to get to that guy in the corner and we didn’t get to him. They flipped the game.”

The Wildcats actually planned to open the half in a three-out/two-in alignment, but when McGuirk spotted up on the break and hit his first 3 coach Chris Randall switched to the four-out.

“He just really gave us a bunch of confidence,” Randall said. “When a guy makes them like that it gives everybody else confidence.”

McGuirk finished with 11 points. Carr had a season-high 21 that included 3-pointers in each of the last three quarters, but was just as impactful defensively, holding Jacksonville’s Sid Thurmond to only two points.

Cam Horton led Jacksonville with 30. The junior drained back-to-back 3s in the possessions immediately behind the McGuirk’ run to keep the Golden Eagles within arm’s length, then Carr came behind him and hit a 3-point to nip the threat.

“I think it really won us the game, mine and his 3s,” McGuirk said, casting a nod over toward Carr.

The Golden Eagles were able to stay in it early because of the continued good play of 6-7 Casey Trull in the post. Trull had eight points and eight rebounds in the first half.

Saks 78, Cleburne County 45

The Wildcats got a glimpse of the future Thursday night and they liked what they saw.

Jaylen Britt, a junior guard coach Jonathan Miller said “will be our best player on the team next year,” scored a career-high 16 points, hitting three of the Wildcats’ 15 3-pointers in the game.

“It’s something I usually don’t do … but they went in tonight,” Britt said.

Six different Wildcats hit from beyond the arc against the Tigers. Quen Williams nailed six, while Britt and Demetrius Powell both hit three off the bench. Williams had three in the first quarter as the Wildcats came out with an intensity to seize control early and opened a 23-8 lead. He finished with 24 points.

“Fifteen’s a pretty good number,” Miller said. “I thought we had some guys off the bench shoot it well, Britt and Powell. Those are both guys of capable of doing that and they played well tonight.”

Miller was particularly excited to see the emergence of Britt. With all five starters on this year’s team graduating in the spring, he’ll be looking for reliable options to fill the gaps.

“Jaylen will be our best player next year,” he said. “He’s a good shooter. His game’s developing to where he can take the ball off the dribble to the basket and finish. He’s really blossomed here in the past three or four months. He’s developing into a really good player.

“I think he can be a key player for us down the stretch. He’s confident right now and confidence is always a big thing.”

If they’re going to start talking about him in those terms, Britt is going to have to start paying attention.

“That’s a big jump for me, but he thinks I’m a good player on the team I have to believe that,” he said.


Saks 78, Cleburne County 45

CLEBURNE COUNTY – Noah Ware 2 1-1 5, Jacob Lee 5 1-3 12, Colton Austin 0 0-0 0, McCain Carlisle 1 0-0 2, Steadman Henson 3 1-2 9, Jeremiah Blake 3 0-0 8, Tyler Norton 0 0-0 0, Jacob Camp 1 0-0 3, Taylor Rice 1 0-0 2, John Robinson 2 0-0 4, Chad Brown 0 0-0 0. Totals 18 3-6 45.

SAKS — Makel Taylor 0 0-0 0, Darion Coleman 3 3-3 11, Devin Harris 3 1-2 8, Jaylen Britt 5 3-4 16, Davieuntae Booker 2 0-0 4, Monty Young 1 2-4 4, Quen Williams 9 0-0 24, Demetrius Powell 3 2-2 11. Totals 26 11-15 78.

Cleburne County 8 8 13 16 — 45
Saks 23 19 19 17 — 78

3-point goals: Cleburne Co. 6 (Lee, Henson 2, Blake 2, Camp); Saks 15 (Coleman 2, Harris, Britt 3, Williams 6, Powell 3). Total fouls: Cleburne Co. 10, Saks 8. Officials: Childs, Campbell, Williams.

White Plains 67, Jacksonville 53

JACKSONVILLE — Cam Horton 12-26 2-3 30, Casey Trull 5-9 1-4 11, Rival Hill 2-4 1-2 6, Taye Ackles 1-8 2-4 4, Sid Thurmond 1-8 0-0 2; Savon Parker 0-0 0-0 0, Aaron Bragg 0-0 0-0 0, Zack Casey 0-0 0-0 0, Ben Jaskowski 0-0 0-0 0, Martavious Long 0-0 0-0 0, K.J. Satcher 0-0 0-0 0, Tristan Yates 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-55 6-13 53.

WHITE PLAINS — Kevin Carr 7-10 4-5 21, Michael McGuirk 4-8 0-0 11, Nathan Gilbert 3-5 4-4 10, Jerod Guthrie 4-14 0-0 9, Eli Hightower 3-5 0-0 7, Lawrence Jackson 3-5 0-2 6, Jackson Guthrie 1-1 0-0 2, Murphy Doss 0-0 1-2 1, Dillon Greenwood 0-0 0-2 0. Totals 25-48 9-15 67.

Jacksonville 14 10 13 16 — 53
White Plains 13 15 17 22 — 67

3-point goals: Jacksonville 5-21 (Horton 4-11, Hill 1-3, Ackles 0-5, Thurmond 0-2); White Plains 8-15 (Carr 3-3, McGuirk 3-5, Je. Guthrie 1-4, Hightower 1-3). Rebounds: Jacksonville 29 (Trull 11, Ackles 7); White Plains 38 (Gilbert 12, Je. Guthrie 7, McGuirk 6). Total fouls: Jacksonville 13, White Plains 13. Officials: Childs, Campbell, Williams.

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