E.A. Sports Today

Wildcats go from ditch to title

Fourth-quarter surge, led by McGuirk, lifts White Plains past Cherokee County, on to area title

By Shannon Fagan
Special to East Alabama Sports Today

CENTRE – For the better part of three quarters Friday, the Cherokee County Warriors did a good job of containing White Plains senior forward Michael McGuirk. He had only four points at halftime and seven by the end of the third quarter.

But in the fourth quarter, McGuirk took over.

McGuirk scored 17 points in the fourth quarter and 24 in the game to lead a surge that carried the Wildcats to a 59-48 victory and the Class 4A Area 12 regular-season title.

McGuirk scored the Wildcats’ first two buckets in the quarter, connected on a 3-pointer at the four-minute mark that gave the Wildcats a five-point cushion, pulled down a key rebound and had a putback off a missed free throw with 2:54 remaining that stretched White Plains’ lead out to nine.

He also made his presence felt from the free-throw line, connecting on all eight of his shots from the stripe in the final two minutes of the victory.

“They hit a run, and they’re so good with 23 (Macey Carr) and 15 (McGuirk), they can score so quick,” Cherokee County coach Neal Wester said. “It was 30-22, then they were ahead. It was that quick.”

The reward for winning the regular-season title is hosting the area tournament. The Wildcats will draw Jacksonville in the opening round.

“I’m glad we don’t have to come back here,” McGuirk said, noting the atmosphere in the Warriors’ gym. “It’s a great feeling hosting two years in a row. It’s fun to play in front of your home crowd, a packed house. It doesn’t get much better.”

But before the ninth-ranked Wildcats (18-6, 5-0) secured their right to host, they had to make up a little ground on the seventh-ranked Warriors (15-6, 4-2).

Cherokee County took a 30-22 lead on a bucket by Ivory Moore at the 3:30 mark of the third, but White Plains closed out the quarter on a 6-0 run to make it a two-point game.

That’s when McGuirk caught lightning in a bottle, and it also carried over to his teammates.

“At 28-22, we were in the ditch,” White Plains coach Chris Randall said. “With about four minutes left in the third, I’m out of buttons. I pushed all of them I could push, but Mike kind of settled everybody.

“Our guys were smart enough to get Mike the ball. Sometimes, at the end of the day, you just get the big fellow the ball. He got that look in his eye. He’s a special player.”

Carr tossed in 15 points for the Wildcats, but Randall was also quick to note the performance of Dylan McCareeth. Not normally known as a scorer, the senior finished with eight points, but it was the intangibles he brought to the court that helped keep the Wildcats in the game.

“We’re like ‘Dang, if Dylan is being aggressive and attacking, then the rest of us can,'” Randall said. “I think he gave us some confidence. He had a couple of takes and an and-one that kind of united everybody. The back-to-back offensive rebounds off the missed free throws put us up nine, and that was big there. I just felt like he was the key to the game.

“You look at the scorebook and he’s only got eight, but the loose balls, the screens, the ball handling, the on-the-ball defense he played on their 3-point shooters, I thought he was the key to the game.”

Senior guard Colin Edwards connected on three of Cherokee County’s six 3-pointers and finished with 15 points to lead the Warriors. Zae Wright added a pair and had 10 points. Kyle Burgess had the other trey and he finished with five points.

“I was proud of how hard our kids played,” Wester said. “Defensively, we played well for the first three quarters, but we just didn’t play good on offense. If you’re playing better on offense, you play harder on defense. It just makes everything go better. We just didn’t play good enough, but a lot of that had to do with White Plains.”


Cherokee County 48, White Plains 33

Crimson Mahannah posted 14 points and eight rebounds in leading the Cherokee County Lady Warriors (14-6, 4-2). Coley Battles contributed 11 points, while Emily Williams added 10.

Shelby Wood topped the Lady Wildcats (13-9, 1-4) with eight points.

White Plains now must defeat Hokes Bluff in its final area game on Monday to secure the No. 3 seed in the area tournament or it will meet Hokes Bluff in the first round the following week.

Shannon Fagan is sports editor of the Cherokee County Herald.


White Plains 59, Cherokee County 48
Jaylen Jackson 0 0-0 0, Peyton Morgan 2 0-0 4, Dylan McCareeth 4 0-1 8, Andrew McCarter 0 0-0 0, Michael McGuirk 7 8-8 24, Macey Carr 6 3-7 15, Gavin Burrage 0 2-2 2, Brett Beaver 3 0-2 6. Totals 22 13-20 59.

CHEROKEE COUNTY (15-6) – Zae Wright 4 0-0 10, Jacob Graves 0 0-0 0, Chris Roden 4 1-2 9, Kyle Burgess 2 0-0 5, Colin Edwards 5 2-4 15, Ivory Moore 2 0-0 4, Marcus Barrington 0 0-0 0, Jy Lockridge 0 0-0 0, Will Hawkins 0 1-2 1, Riley Russell 2 0-0 4. Totals 19 4-8 48.

White Plains 8 8 12 31 — 59
Cherokee County 9 11 10 18 — 48

3-point goals: White Plains 2 (McGuirk 2); Cherokee County 6 (Wright 2, Burgess, Edwards 3). Fouled out: Wright, Burrage. Total fouls: White Plains 15, Cherokee County 20. Officials: Thomas, Harrell, Bennett.

Cherokee County 48, White Plains 33
Rian Chandler 0 0-0 0, Hanna Dyar 1 2-2 4, Hannah Barno 0 0-0 0, Landry Bussey 2 1-2 5, Chasity Nelson 0 0-2 0, Ary Rosario 0 3-4 3, Grey Young 1 3-3 6, Shelby Wood 2 4-10 8, Bethani Newbold 1 1-2 3, Jocelyn Harris 2 0-2 4, Lilly Ponder 0 0-0 0, Patience Carr 0 0-0 0. Totals 9 14-27 33.

CHEROKEE COUNTY (14-6) – Meagan McGatha 0 0-0 0, Coley Battles 5 1-1 11, Emily Williams 3 2-2 10, Laney Johnson 0 2-4 2, Kendal Perry 2 2-2 6, Crimson Mahannah 3 7-12 14, Jensen Alexander 1 1-2 3, Ashley Acrey 1 0-0 2. Totals 15 15-23 48.

White Plains 14 7 9 3 — 33
Cherokee County 14 11 10 13 — 48

3-point goals: White Plains 1 (Young); Cherokee County 3 (Williams 2, Mahannah). Fouled out: Williams, Rosario. Total fouls: White Plains 18, Cherokee County 22. Officials: Thomas, Burnett, Harrell.

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