PREP BASKETBALL: Wheeler’s late free throws lift Warriors over Tigers 66-64, Lady Warriors handle Russellville 62-34

West Point's Sam Wheeler finished with 14 points and hit the game-winning free throws in the Warriors' 66-64 win over Russellville. (Bill Piper/The Cullman Tribune)

WEST POINT, Ala. – The West Point Warriors and Lady Warriors were back home at Jim Boyd Gymnasium for a pair of huge area matchups Friday night and after the Lady Warriors handled the Lady Tigers 62-34, the Warriors edged Russellville in a very tight nightcap. The score was knotted at 64 with 1.7 seconds on the clock and Sam Wheeler knocked down back to back free throws to secure a 66-64, area win for West Point.

West Point 62 – Russellville 34 (Varsity Girls)

West Point got their first point from the free throw line as Summer Mendoza split a pair from the line to put them on the scoreboard first. Braelee Quinn and Laklin Shadix each added a pair from the line to give the Lady Warriors a 5-0 lead. Both teams struggled to score a basket for almost five minutes before Russellville hit a layup with a little over three minutes to go in the opening period as that made it a 5-4 game. Hallie Wheeler drilled a three for West Point’s first basket of the game as that pushed their lead to 8-4. Ryleigh Jones later drilled a three and added a basket down low to increase the Lady Warrior lead to 13-7 and they would go into the second period up by six.

A Russellville made basket made it a 13-9 game, but Wheeler added a pair of threes and Mendoza drilled one of her own to help push West Point’s lead to 22-9. Jones hit a short jumper to make it 24-9, then Liberty Shadix hit a shot down low as that made it 26-12. Jones hit a three and later added a three-point play to put West Point up by a score of 33-16. The Lady Warriors would take a 33-18 lead into the locker room.

A pair of Liberty Shadix free throws made it 35-18. After the Lady Golden Tigers trimmed West Point’s lead to 35-23, Mendoza hit a pair of free throws, then Wheeler added three of her own from the charity stripe to make it 40-23. Mendoza added a couple of more free throws and Jones hit a driving layup as the Lady Warriors went into the final period up by a score of 44-24.

A Mendoza three and a Wheeler layup made it a 49-29 score, then a pair of Mendoza free throws and three from Laklin Shadix pushed the lead to 54-29. Quinn and Ella Minck each added baskets down low as West Point would roll to an easy 62-34 region win over Russellville. 

Wheeler led the way for West Point (13-5, 3-0) with 16 points. Jones added 15 points. Mendoza ended up with 13 points. Quinn and Laklin Shadix each added five points, while Minck and Liberty Shadix each ended up with four points.

West Point 66 – Russellville 64 (Varsity Boys)

Andrew Lynn got the scoring started for West Point with a three, but six straight points from Russellville gave them an early 6-3 lead. The first quarter, though, would belong to Kolten Perry. Perry drilled a three from the left corner to tie the game up at six. A Golden Tiger trey gave them a 9-6 lead and later made it 11-8 after a pair of free throws with less than five minutes to go in the first period.

A Russellville basket down low made it 13-10, but a Sam Wheeler free throw trimmed the deficit to just two at 13-11. After the Golden Tigers made it 16-11 on a trey, Perry scored the next six points, including a huge three-point play, to give West Point a 17-16 lead with less than three minutes to go in the first quarter. Another Perry basket down low gave the Warriors a 20-18 lead, but the Golden Tigers tied it up at 20 on a pair of free throws and that would be the score going into the second period. Perry finished with 15 points in the first period.

A huge run by Russellville saw them take a 32-23 lead with 4:40 remaining in the first half. Baskets from Jay Lamar and Wheeler made it a five-point game and later on, a Lynn three made it a 37-31 game. A pair of Wheeler free throws cut the deficit to six at 39-33 and the Warriors would go into the half down by six.

Russellville padded their lead to start the second half as they scored the first eight points of the third period as that made it a 47-33 game. A Kanen Trussell basket down low and another Lynn trey cut the Golden Tiger lead to 49-38 with less than four minutes to go in the third period. Lamar drilled a three to make it a 51-41 game. Russellville pushed their lead to 12 at 55-43, but the Warriors would finish the quarter strong as a huge three from Cade Simmons made it 55-46, then a Golden Tiger player got called for a technical foul and Lynn hit a pair of free throws as the Warriors went into the final period down, 55-48.

West Point continued their run at the start of the final period. A Wheeler made basket and a Lynn trey saw the Golden Tiger lead swivel to just four at 57-53. Perry hit four straight free throws to tie the game up at 57 with a little over four minutes to go in the contest. Lamar hit two more from the line to give West Point a 59-57 lead, but Russellville got the lead right back as a basket down low gave them a 62-59 lead.

A pair of Lynn free throws trimmed Russellville’s lead to 62-61, then Wheeler tied it up with one of his own. Perry split on his next two trips to the line to give the Warriors a 64-62 lead with a little over a minute left. The Golden Tigers tied it up at 64 on a layup and after a pair of missed free throws by Russellville free throws, West Point looked to win it on their final possession. Wheeler drove to the lane and got fouled with 1.7 seconds left. He calmly hit both free throws to give the Warriors a 66-64 lead and a last shot attempt was off the mark for the Golden Tigers as West Point picked up a huge 66-64 win at home over Russellville.

Perry led the way for West Point (8-15, 1-2) with 21 points. Lynn added 16 points. Wheeler ended up with 14 points. Lamar added seven points. Simmons ended up with five points and Trussell chipped in with three points.

West Point’s varsity boys will take on Cordova at Wallace State Monday to compete in this year’s MLK Classic and the Lady Warriors and Warriors will travel to Russellville next Friday night.

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