James Wood boys upset top-seeded Warriors 82-68
Posted: February 14, 2013
WINCHESTER — Let any half-decent team hang around long enough and you’re asking for trouble.
Let a team that can score as fast as James Wood hang around and odds are that trouble will find you eventually.
Trailing by one early in the fourth quarter, the No. 4-seeded Colonels proceeded to score 19 of the next 21 points to pull away for an 82-68 upset of No. 1 seed Sherando in the semifinals of the Northwestern District Boys’ Basketball Tournament at Millbrook’s Casey Gymnasium Wednesday.
With the win the Colonels will next face No. 2 Handley, which beat No. 3 Millbrook 69-54 in the other semifinal, in the final at Millbrook at 7 p.m. on Friday.
That James Wood (11-13) was even in the game in the fourth quarter may have been a surprise — in their previous two meetings this year with the Warriors the Colonels had lost by 14 and 20, respectively, and hadn’t beaten Sherando since 2010 — but the fact that they blew the game open with a 13-0 run that took less than two minutes shouldn’t have been.
“The guys feed of [the crowd],” said James Wood coach Al Smith. “Once we hit those bang-bang 3’s, we just went on a run. We got a couple turnovers, we hit some free throws and we just got going.”
Those 3-pointers came courtesy of junior Nick Goode (11 points, three 3-pointers) on back-to-back possessions to turn a one-point deficit into a 69-64 lead, but the run came by way of defensive intensity and aggression on the offensive end.
Junior Michael Carter (13 points, three 3-pointers) hit four straight free throws after getting fouled on drives to the basket, classmate Ryland Williams (22 points, two 3-pointers) picked off a pass, drew the foul and hit both ends of a one-and-one before scoring off a layup in transition and fellow junior Cam Butler (12 points, four 3-pointers) pulled up on the break to bury a shot from downtown.
By the time Williams hit two more free throws after getting fouled on a drive following yet another Sherando (14-8) turnover, the Colonels held an 82-66 lead and the Warriors were left wondering what had just happened.
“When our whole team is on and we’re hitting like that, there’s barely anything you can do to stop us,” said Williams, who had to exit the game in the second quarter after coming down hard on his hip but returned a few minutes later. “Our defense has been picking up lately and when that happens the game just flows for us and we get it done.”
The fourth quarter may have been when they gained separation, but the Colonels set it up with their play over the first 24 minutes of action.
James Wood never allowed Sherando to go up by more than six and hit big basket after big basket to keep within striking distance.
After trailing by just two at the end of the first quarter, Butler connected on a 3-pointer seconds before halftime to give the Colonels a 38-36 lead and Williams followed suit at the end of the third quarter with a 3-pointer at the buzzer to make it 60-58.
“When you hit a couple [shots] your confidence level goes up and you can feel it,” said Smith, whose team finished with 15 3-pointers on the night. “When it’s coming off your hand [you know] that it’s going in and you could tell that’s the way we felt tonight.”
As good as the Colonels felt it wasn’t as though the Warriors played a terrible game.
Sherando jumped out to a 10-5 lead in the first quarter when senior Aaron Miller (team-high 21 points) knocked down a 3-pointer and led for most of the first three quarters.
With seniors Taylor Loudan and John Harrell plagued by foul trouble in the first half and Loudan missing most of the third quarter after taking a shot to the eye while fighting for a rebound, guards Isaiah Williams (13 points), Tanner Ruths (13 points) and Nathaniel Culp (9 points) kept the Warriors going.
But an inability to build on any sort of lead meant it was anybody’s game heading into the fourth quarter.
“They came out and they were hitting shots, and we came out flat and didn’t really respond,” Loudan said. “We just kind of let them hang around and hang around and with a good-shooting team like that, and they were shooting well tonight, they’re going to beat you.”
A jumper by Harrell a little over two minutes to play finally stopped the fourth-quarter run, but the Warriors could not buy a basket the rest of the way and the Colonels were allowed to dribble out the final 85 seconds of the game as their fans gave them a standing ovation.
“I think our team has changed over the course of the last week,” Smith said. “Our chemistry is just so much better, these guys have become a tight group and they believe in what we’re doing. We’re just playing a lot better.”
For the game James Wood shot 45 percent (27 of 60) from the field and 77 percent (13 of 17) from the charity stripe.
Williams finished with nine rebounds and seven assists to go along with his game-high 22 points for the Colonels and sophomore center Branson Ratlief, a midseason JV call-up, pulled down eight rebounds.
Sherando went 28 for 66 (42 percent) on the night, but missed six free throws (8 for 14), turned the ball over 21 times and lost the rebounding battle.
“We didn’t block out well and most of our turnovers were turnovers where we dribbled right into the trap instead of hitting the right man,” said Sherando coach Garland Williams, whose team will next host a Region II, Division 4 playoff game on Tuesday. “[James Wood was] the much more aggressive group and they were hungrier.
“I don’t know if our guys felt that because we beat them this year, we beat them last year and we beat them the year before that we were just going to beat them [tonight], but each game’s a different game. You’ve got to come to play and we didn’t do a good job of that.”
— Contact Kevin Trudgeon at email@example.comFollow on Twitter @WinStarSports1