Photo: Westbrook Christian’s Eli Edge (13) drives to the basket past Glencoe’s Grant Smith as Glencoe Jaylen Patton (left) and Westbrook’s Cooper King (right) look on during the Yellow Jackets’ 69-51 victory over in the finals of the Class 3A Area 12 Tournament in boys basketball on Wednesday, Feb. 7 at Glencoe. (Chris McCarthy/Messenger)
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
A strong final 13 minutes propelled the Glencoe boys basketball team to a 69-51 victory over Westbrook Christian in the finals of the Class 3A Area 12 Tournament on Wednesday, Feb. 7 at Glencoe.
The Yellow Jackets took the lead for good in the final minutes of the first quarter, but the Warriors pulled within 36-30 on Cooper King’s layup with five minutes left in the third.
That turned out to be the highwater mark for Westbrook, as Glencoe closed out the quarter with 16-5 run that effectively took the starch out of the Rainbow City squad.
The Warriors (16-11) never again drew within single digits, and Grant Smith scored 10 of his team-high 22 points to help the Yellow Jackets capture a second straight area title.
Both teams advanced to Saturday’s subregional playoffs. Glencoe hosts Plainview, while Westbrook travels to Geraldine.
Garrett Morgan added 16 points for the Yellow Jackets, followed by Tournament MVP Aiden Cornutt and Jayden Patton with 11 each and Wade Segrest with six. Smith went a perfect 6-for-6 from the foul line.
“I thought we played really hard tonight, especially on defense,” said Glencoe head coach Ryan Chambless. “We also rebounded a lot better, and I felt that our pressure [defense] got to [Westbrook] in spots. Our fast break was working, and when that happens, we’re at our best. Wade and Jayden and Garrett and Braylen did a really good job of handling the ball, and we didn’t have much in the way of turnovers. Westbrook’s a really tough team that’s gotten better every time we’ve played them this year, and that speaks to the job that Coach [Neal] Wester is doing over there.”
In a back-and-forth first quarter, Smith and Patton each scored six points to help Glencoe take a 15-12 lead. King’s three-point basket at 3:10 of the second frame cut it to 22-21 before an 8-1 run put the Yellow Jackets ahead 30-22 at halftime.
Glencoe started to pull away midway through the third period. The Yellow Jackets maintained a double-digit lead for good following Morgan’s foul shot with less than three minutes to go in the quarter, and Westbrook failed to put together a sustained run during the fourth to get back within striking distance.
Chambless acknowledged that part of Glencoe’s game plan was to limit Edge’s opportunities in the paint. The Yellow Jackets held Edge to nine points through three quarters.
“All week at practice we talked about keeping [Edge] out of the lane as best we could, because he’s a really tough player on the inside and outside. He can do it all.”
Edge finished with 22 points, while Cooper King scored 12 and Cooper Greer 10.
“Give [Glencoe] credit; they played well,” said Westbrook head coach Neal Wester. “They were consistent all game long while we played well in spurts. Our kids played hard, but we just couldn’t put it together for the whole game. We missed some shots around the goal and got to where we couldn’t make free throws. We knew it was going to be a battle tonight, and it was. [Glencoe] was just a little bit better than us.”
Joining Cornutt on the all-tournament team were Smith, Morgan and Segrest from Glencoe; Edge, King and Greer from Westbrook; Noah Johnson and Anderson Morgan from Hokes Bluff; and Jake Roberson and Alston Carroll rom Ohat-chee.