Westchester Staves Off Major Upset
When you are the No. 1 team in the nation, you get everyone's best shot. On Tuesday night, Lakewood (FL) High tried to knock Westchester out and though it put them on the ropes it couldn't send them to the canvas.
Westchester defeated Lakewood 73-66 but this was no fluke. Lakewood is good and while Westchester is famous for turning up the tempo and applying pressure with its guards, that's exactly how Lakewood stayed in this one.
The first half was a WAR. It was fast and a lot of action was forced, but it was end to end. Lakewood's Marcus Morrison had one of the finest first half performances these eyes have witnessed in a long time. He scored 22 points in the half. He threw crossovers at guys signed with Arizona and Georgetown. He hit a 3 over Hassan Adams and took Brandon Bowman to the rack. He pulled up over a bevy of defenders and hit shots. In short, he was on fire. Not just on fire, but blazing.
At the half, Westchester was lucky to escape with a 37-35 lead. Their stars were struggling. Adams wasn't rebounding and getting to the rim. Their guards went 0-for7 from deep. It wasn't pretty and an upset wasn't out of the question. The look on the faces of Adams and his teammates more than told the story. This supposed easy opener was turning into a battle.
With just under five minutes remaining in the third quarter, Lakewood looked like it might come unraveled for good. The glass slipper was about to shatter after it failed to convert three straight times down the floor. However, Lakewood didn't fold. An amazing steal and coast-to-coast dunk by Morrison at the buzzer trimmed WC's lead to 56-53.
With seven minutes remaining in the game, Marcus Lee's 3-pointer tied the game at 58-58. Then, almost as if they awoke at the same time, Adams and junior forward Trevor Ariza got on the glass. Slowly Westchester began to take control. Morrison then fouled out and Westchester escaped in a classic.
Morrison led all scorers with 26. Ariza led Westchester with 16, Brandon Heath had 14 and Adams and Ashanti Cook had 12 each.
73 points was Westchester's lowest output of the season. … In their five previous games, the Comets averaged 104 points each time out. … Heath committed to San Diego State but still needs to qualify. … Credit the officials. Too many times they get the short end of the stick. On this night, they did a great job of controlling the action but letting two good teams get after each other. … Ariza's list reads: "Most of the ACC and SEC." However, when prodded he fessed up to really liking Florida and Duke. Ariza lived in Miami up until 1994. … You can't begin to praise Lakewood enough for the gutsy effort it put forth. It went toe-to-toe with one of the heavy hitters and never once blinked. ...