E.A. Sports Today

Guthrie delivers again

White Plains’ sophomore helps Wildcats turn back North Jackson, reach regional final

By Brant Locklier
For East Alabama Sports Today

JACKSONVILLE – When it comes to crunch time White Plains has become accustomed to turning to Jerod Guthrie for help and Saturday was no exception.

The sophomore guard was unstoppable in the fourth quarter, helping the Wildcats fight off a North Jackson rally to earn an 80-67 win to reach the Class 4A boys Northeast Regional finals.

Guthrie led off the Wildcats’ 32-point fourth with a 3, had a steal and beautiful pass to Murphy Doss and then buried another 3 to help the Wildcats stretch a lead that shrank to two to 10 in just two minutes. He had a big stretch later in the quarter.

“Jerod is growing up and is giving our team confidence in going to him in these kind of situations,” White Plains coach Chris Randall said. “Sometimes I want to shoot him, but I love the way he shoots the 3 and plays.

“We did not run an offensive play in the fourth quarter as they were scrambling and taking risks and we just kept finding Jerod and he was knocking them down.”

The win sends the Wildcats (25-7) to play Westminster Christian (20-11) at 3 p.m. Wednesday for the region title and a trip to Birmingham. Westminster was a 43-38 upset winner over No. 2 Cherokee County.

Guthrie ended up with 28 points, four assists and four rebounds. He was 5-of-10 from 3-point range and 7-of-8 from the foul line.

His success at Pete Mathews is simply a matter of comfort.

“I really like this floor,” he said. “I have made five 3s in each game I have played here. I hit that first one in the fourth quarter and just got my confidence going.”

Later in the fourth quarter, Guthrie hit two free throws and buried another 3 with 5:50 to go and then converted a three-point play with 5:11 to go to keep the lead at 63-56 as the Chiefs were pressing and battling as hard as they could to take the lead.

When Guthrie had to sit for a few minutes with foul trouble in the last quarter other Wildcats stepped up.

Doss came in and had some big baskets and rebounds and hit some key free throws down the stretch. Lawrence Jackson was huge off the bench. He pulled down a big rebound with 1:49 left and fired a full-court pass to Eli Hightower who tipped it to a driving Doss who laid it in to put the Wildcats up 72-63.

Jackson finished with 19 points on 9-of-11 shooting, seven rebounds and four assists. Michael McGuirk had 15 points and nine rebounds. They were big contributions with starting center and captain Nathan Gilbert in foul trouble most of the night battling 6-7 North Jackson center Austin Cummins.

It was a furious third quarter as the Chiefs rallied from an 18 point deficit to cut it to 48-46. The Wildcats turned it over five straight times in the final two minutes of the quarter, allowing the Chiefs to score 12 straight points.

“I kept looking at the clock and it seemed like it would never end,” Randall said. “They were throwing everything at us on the press and causing all kinds of problems once they got down 18 points. You got to give them credit; they are a great basketball team.”

It appeared the game was slipping away, but the Wildcats regrouped in the huddle.

“I hate to lose, but love to see how our kids respond to losing,” Randall said. “We lost that third quarter bad. It was a loss. In the huddle they were mad at letting the lead slip away.”

White Plains was making its first appearance in the regional since 2008 when it captured its second regional title; the other trip came in 1995. North Jackson was making its first trip to the Northeast Regional.

Cummins opened the scoring and the Chiefs led 4-0. But McGuirk and Hightower got it going for the Wildcats with McGuirk scoring four points and Hightower dropping two long 3s. White Plains’ defense was all over the Chiefs, forcing 15 turnovers and holding them to just 15 shots in the first half.

White Plains got 19 points from its bench to pull out to a 35-20 halftime lead. Jackson had 11 of those points. McGuirk out-scrapped Cummins on the boards with eight in the half.

“It says a lot for our team to play the way they did without (Gilbert) most of the game,” Randall said. “Nathan was important though as he led on the bench, supporting his teammates and keeping them up. That is what captains do in adversity. Nathan is going to be a winner in life with that kind of attitude.”

(On the cover: Jerod Guthrie shoots a jumper in White Plains’ win over Hokes Bluff earlier this week. (Photo by Micaela Truett))

White Plains 80, North Jackson 67

WHITE PLAINS (25-7) — Jerod Guthrie 8-18 7-8 28, Dillon Greenwood 0-1 0-1 0, Michael McGuirk 6-13 2-2 15, Nathan Gilbert 0-2 1-2 1, Murphy Doss 3-9 3-4 9, Kolby Burgess 0-1 0-0 0, Kevin Carr 1-6 0-3 2, Eli Hightower 2-6 0-0 6, Jackson Guthrie 0-1 0-0 0, Quez Wyatt 0-0 0-0 0, Lawrence Jackson 9-11 1-2 19, Brett Beaver 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 29-68 14-21 80.

NORTH JACKSON (20-8) — Logan Walter 7-17 5-6 21, Austin Cummins 5-8 2-6 12, Keshawn Lowrance 3-7 8-14 14, Justin Morfin 1-2 2-2 5, Matt Johnson 3-8 0-1 6, Trey Harris 1-6 2-2 4, Bray Elderidge 0-4 0-0 0, Chase Darnell 1-3 0-0 2, C.J. Cobb 1-1 0-0 3, Jaelen Hutchins 0-1 0-0 0, Michael Loyd 0-0 0-0 0, D.J. Jackson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 22-57 19-31 67.

White Plains 18 17 13 32 — 80
North Jackson 11 9 26 21 — 67

3-point goals: White Plains 8-19 (Je. Guthrie 5-10, McGuirk 1-3, Carr 0-2, Hightower 2-4); North Jackson 4-17 (Walter 2-7, Morfin 1-2, Johnson 0-2, Harris 0-1, Elderidge 0-3, Cobb 1-1, Hutchins 0-1). Rebounds: White Plains 45 (McGuirk 9); North Jackson 40 (Cummins 10, Lowrance 13). Total fouls: White Plains 22, North Jackson 24. Fouled out: Doss. Officials: Crenshaw, Tucker, Salter.

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