E.A. Sports Today

Westminster stops Warriors again

Wildcats tightens defensive grip on Cherokee County in the boys 4A Northeast Regional final

By Shannon Fagan
Cherokee County Herald

JACKSONVILLE – It has been 10 years since the Cherokee County Warriors claimed their only Northeast Regional basketball championship.

On Wednesday, they had a chance to add another regional title to the school trophy case, but standing in the way was the team that knocked them out last year.

Westminster Christian had the Warriors’ number again, holding them to their lowest offensive output of the season to claim a 36-29 victory. The Wildcats (28-3) advances to play Handley Tuesday in the Class 4A state semifinals in Birmingham.

“Tough game for us,” Warriors head coach Neal Wester said. “We didn’t play well offensively, and, of course, they had a lot to do with that. They play really good defense and made more shots than we did.”

The past two seasons, the Warriors have relied on the 3-pointer to get their offense rolling. On Wednesday, the Wildcats held Cherokee County to just 3-of-23 shooting behind the arc. Senior sharpshooter Joel Wester was just 2-of-13 from 3-point range and finished with 13 points.

“When they’re playing you tight, it’s tough to get good looks,” the younger Wester said. “We didn’t get many good looks. We shot a lot, but we really didn’t get many good looks at all.”

Seven of Joel Wester’s points came in the first half. He tied the game at 17 on a three-point play with with 10.9 seconds left in the second quarter, but tournament MVP Trey Petty hit a 3 at the buzzer to give Westminster a 20-17 halftime advantage.

Petty finished with 16 points and 14 rebounds.

The defensive battle continued in the second half. The Wildcats managed to build a 27-22 lead by the end of the third quarter, but the Warriors (25-8) still managed to hang around. Joel Wester’s second trey came with 4:31 left, cutting Westminster Christian’s lead to 31-27.

However, that would be the final field goal the Warriors would make as the Wildcats held on down the stretch for the win.

“Every time we play, it’s ugly,” Westminster Christian head coach Ronnie Stapler said. “I thought the first half we really had a chance to spread the game out a little bit, but we got a little selfish and took some one-pass shots … but I thought the whole game we did a good job defensively. I think every bucket they got was a contested bucket. That was our whole deal.”

Quartez Henderson had eight points for the Warriors. Nahum Horton had three points, 10 rebounds and two steals. Wester and Horton were named to the all-tournament team.

Shannon Fagan is sports editor of the Cherokee County Herald.

Westminster Christian 36, Cherokee County 29

CHEROKEE CO. (25-8) – Jacob Graves 0-1 0-2 0, Joel Wester 5-21 1-1 13, Tyren Dupree 0-3 1-2 1, Nahum Horton 1-3 1-2 3, Quartez Henderson 2-15 3-4 8, Justin McKnight 0-0 0-0 0, Chris Roden 1-1 0-0 2, Colin Edwards 1-2 0-0 2, Zae Wright 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 10-48 6-11 29.

WESTMINSTER CHRISTIAN (28-3) – Jared Smith 1-4 1-3 3, Trey Petty 7-13 0-0 16, Tysean Whitehead 2-5 0-0 4, John Kendall 3-3 0-1 7, Jarrett Murphy 2-5 0-0 4, Auston Leslie 0-0 0-0 0, John Parker 0-0 0-0 0, Larkin Iso 0-2 2-4 2, Jackson Kendall 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 15-32 3-8 36.

Cherokee Co. 7 10 5 7 — 29
Westminster 10 10 7 9 — 36

3-point goals: Cherokee Co. 3-23 (Graves 0-1, Wester 2-13, Henderson 1-7, Edwards 0-1, Wright 0-1); Westminster 3-7 (Petty 2-4, Jo. Kendall 1-1, Murphy 0-1, Iso 0-1). Rebounds: Cherokee Co. 26 (Horton 10); Westminster 36 (Petty 14). Fouled out: Murphy. Total fouls: Cherokee Co. 13, Westminster 15. Officials: Pat Jolly, Ken Marbury, Ken Washington.

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