E.A. Sports Today

Wildcats get through it

White Plains battles through most ‘nervous’ game of the year to secure spot in area tournament final, Class 4A subregionals

White Plains’ Michael McGuirk works through a show of hands to get to the basket Thursday night. McGuirk led all scorers with 31 points. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Of all the days in the year Thursday night is White Plains coach Chris Randall’s least favorite.

Oh, it’s not specifically Feb. 9 he doesn’t like. It’s what was represented on that day this year. It’s the round in the area tournament that if you don’t take care of business it’s the end of the line.

The sixth-ranked Wildcats took care of that for their coach, living to fight for at least two more games, by dispatching Jacksonville 73-54 in the semifinals of the Class 4A Area 12 tournament. They now play Hokes Bluff for the area tournament title Saturday at 7 p.m., guaranteed a spot in the sub-regionals opposite either Saks or Handley.

“It’s my least favorite night of the year; out of 365 days, it’s my least favorite,” Randall said. “Because what you’ve done in the regular season, everybody’s 0-0.”

If the Wildcats needed an example of just how dangerous the first round of the area tournament is all they had to do was watch Thursday’s first game and the way sub-.500 Hokes Bluff took out second-seeded Cherokee County. The despair the Warriors felt heading towards the bus was a feeling the Wildcats didn’t want to experience, especially in their own gym.

It took a while for the Wildcats to seize control, but by quarter’s end they had it. It was 7-5 early, but with Macey Carr and Brett Beaver in quick foul trouble and not returning to the court any time soon, Payton Morgan, Andrew McCarter and Dylan McCareeth all picked up the slack and helped the Wildcats find their groove.

Morgan hit a pair of buckets, McCarter nailed a 3 and McCareeth controlled the ball; all of a sudden the Wildcats were ahead 21-8 after one quarter.

Of course, while all that was happening, Michael McGuirk was being his usual dominating self. He scored 12 points in the first quarter, 20 in the first half and finished with 31 for the game. Beaver had 13 points, not missing a shot (6-for-6 from the field, 1-for-1 at the line)

“We said in the locker room our season wasn’t going to end tonight,” McGuirk said. “This is such a nervous game because you have the chance of your season. We sat in the locker room – all the seniors – and we said our season wasn’t going to end tonight and we went out here and got it done.”

White Plains 74, Jacksonville 54
Rivan Hill 5-13 3-4 16, Jay Davis 3-4 0-0 8, DeAndre Mcain 2-6 2-3 7, Tahj Kirkland 1-2 5-6 7, Alex Gilbert 1-4 2-2 5, Cade Landers 2-2 0-0 4, Hunter Vinson 1-2 1-1 3, K.J. Satcher 1-3 0-0 3, Alex Davis 0-1 1-2 1, Ron Wiggins 0-4 0-0 0. Totals 16-41 14-18 54.

WHITE PLAINS (21-6) – Michael McGuirk 10-15 8-9 31, Brett Beaver 6-6 1-1 13, Peyton Morgan 3-4 2-2 8, Macey Carr 3-4 0-0 7, Dylan McCareeth 1-1 2-2 4, Andrew McCarter 1-40-0 3, Drake Preston 1-1 0-0 3, Matthew Clay 1-1 0-0 3, Gavin Burrage 1-3 0-0 2, Jaylen Jackson 0-0 0-0 0, Austin Bussey 0-0 0-0 0, Justin Foster 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 27-39 13-14 92.

Jacksonville 8 11 13 22 — 54
White Plains 21 10 20 23 — 74

3-point goals: Jacksonville 8-19 (Hill 3-8, J. Davis 2-3, McCain 1-3, Gilbert 1-2, Vinson 0-1, Satcher 1-2); White Plains 7-15 (McGuirk 3-6, Morgan 0-1, Carr 1=1, McCarter 1-4, Clay 1-1, Burrage 0-1). Rebounds: Jacksonville 18 (Gilbert 3, Vinson 3); White Plains 21 (McGuirk 4). Total fouls: Jacksonville 11, White Plains 12. Officials: Williams, Phillips, McDonald.

Jacksonville’s Rivan Hill (5) muscles his way between White Plains’ Brett Beaver (33) and Michael McGuirk. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

Payton Morgan (4) was one of the role players who played a big role in helping the Wildcats find their rhythm through some early foul trouble. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

To see more B.J. Franklin photos from the Jacksonville-White Plains game, visit www.bjfranklin.smugmug.com

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