By Cole Frederick/Sports Correspondent
Class 2A No. 9 Westbrook Christian parlayed a dominant second quarter into a 73-31 blowout win over Ragland on Tuesday (Jan. 2) in Rainbow City.
The Warriors (11-5) and Purple Devils were tied at 12 entering the second quarter, but Westbrook outscored Ragland 31-4 to take a comfortable 43-16 lead into the locker room.
Westbrook didn’t shoot particularly well in the first quarter, but the defensive intensity picked up in the second quarter, which led to easy points in transition.
Cullen Stafford got the offense going, scoring all 10 of his points in the second quarter. Westbrook head coach Matt Dickey felt those stops on the defensive end helped his team get into a rhythm offensively.
“The second quarter – we talked about it at halftime – we only gave up four points,” Dickey said. “That’s how we start runs. We’re not a killer offensive team. But when we get stops on defense, that’s what creates offense for us. And that’s what happened in the second quarter.”
Leading 43-16 at the break, the Warriors came out in the second half with the same aggressiveness on the defensive end. Westbrook extended its lead to 63-24 entering the fourth quarter and won going away.
Ragland’s zone defense gave Westbrook some trouble early, but the Warriors settled down offensively and eventually started hitting outside shots in the second half.
“We did a better job in the second half of moving the ball on offense and not looking at such early shots, working the ball inside and then the ball coming out,” Dickey said. “And that’s when we want to shoot threes. Our guys did a good job of making a team pay that was playing a zone.”
P.J. Wells led the Warriors with a double-double of 16 points and 13 rebounds. Stafford and Braden Beecham each scored 10 points. Alex Burnett and Garrett Kennedy chipped in eight points each, while Jackson Luttrell scored seven off the bench. Stafford pulled down eight rebounds, while Kennedy dished out four assists.
Dickey said he thought his team played much better defensively as the game progressed.
“I think we tried to wear them down a little bit by pressing most of the game, he said. “And then in the half court we did a good job of keeping our pressure on the ball and also filling gaps and being help side, so even if they did beat the first guy, they had other guys there defensively rea-dy to pick somebody up.”