PREP BASKETBALL: Lady Warriors fall to No. 1 Jasper at NW Regional 63-39

West Point’s Kylee Quinn (5) finished with five points in the Lady Warriors’ 63-39 loss to Jasper Friday. (Martha Needham/The Cullman Tribune)

HANCEVILLE, Ala. – After capturing an area championship and handling Wenonah in the Sub-Regional, the West Point Lady Warriors were back at the Northwest Regional Tournament Friday morning competing in the Sweet 16. West Point matched up with top-ranked Jasper and after a tight first quarter, the Lady Vikings were able to build a big lead in the second and the third. The Lady Warriors made a push in the fourth quarter and cut the lead to 16 at one point but they couldn’t overcome the early lead and West Point’s season ended with a 63-39 loss.

Over the course of the second and third quarters, Jasper outscored West Point 36-13. Lady Warriors Head Coach John Welborn believes the tough matchups the Lady Vikings presented, as well as some self-inflicted issues, is what caused the gap to widen.

“We couldn’t stop (Missy) Odom, she’s just tough,” Welborn said. “The transfer portal is good to teams. I don’t care what they say the transfer portal is getting out of hand in high school basketball. It’s getting out of hand. But she was tough to stop plus you have to guard (Mia) Hollingsworth. You have to put so much pressure on her trying to deny her the basketball that she can get free more. So, that was tough and then we missed layup after layup after layup and missed foul shots. That’s kind of been our Achilles heel all year is missing foul shots and we missed several today.”

The Lady Warriors entered the fourth quarter trailing 50-26 but Welborn was proud of the effort they showed in the final frame to cut into the lead and push Jasper.

“In the fourth quarter I told them, ‘This is it. You’ve got eight minutes left of your basketball careers and you’ve got to leave it out there’. And we went on a run there and cut it to 15 and had the ball a couple times but we missed a lot of foul shots in that run and missed some layups in that run. We got them in foul trouble and that made it a little bit better, but I was proud of the effort,” Welborn said. “Kylee Quinn came in there at the end and when I put Kylee on 33, she was a little more physical with her and pushing her around a little bit and it kind of affected her. That’s my fault, I probably should’ve done that more at the start of the game, but she did a good job on her in the third quarter.”

Jasper 63 – West Point 39 (Northwest Regional 5A Semifinal)

Camryn Faulkner scored through a foul and hit the free throw to tie the game at 3 early in the opening period and Laklin and Liberty Shadix each split a pair of free throws, Jaelyn Faulkner sank a pair of from the line to keep the score knotted at 7 later in the first. Baskets by Liberty Shadix and Jaelyn Faulker kept the game tied at 11 late in the first quarter and after Jasper pulled ahead 14-11, Liberty Shadix tipped one in to make it a 14-13 game going into the second.

The Lady Vikings opened up the second quarter with an 8-0 run to stretch their lead to 22-13 but a Liberty Shadix basket stopped the run and made it a 7-point game. Jasper continued adding to its lead, pulling ahead 31-15 midway through the period but a three-pointer from Hallie Wheeler and a basket by Ella Minck trimmed the lead to 36-21 later in the second. Liberty Shadix hit a free throw with just over a minute remaining in the half, but the Lady Warriors went into the locker room trailing 39-22 at the break. West Point was outscored 25-9 in the second quarter.

The Lady Warriors struggled on the offensive end in the third, falling behind 44-22 early in the period. Jaelyn Faulkner laid one in and Laklin Shadix hit a pair of free throws to make it a 48-26 game, but Jasper went into the fourth holding onto a 50-26 advantage.

West Point didn’t lay down in the final frame. Kylee Quinn scored inside to trim the lead to 22 and Jaelyn Faulker scored five straight points to bring the lead down to 50-33 with five minutes to play. Quinn and Jaelyn Faulkner each hit a pair of free throws to make it a 55-37 game midway through the fourth quarter, but the Lady Warriors couldn’t chip away any more of the lead and Jasper advanced to the Elite Eight with a 63-39 win.

Jaelyn Faulkner led West Point (24-6) with 14 points in the loss. Liberty Shadix posted nine points and Quinn finished with five.

There are five seniors on this year’s West Point team and Welborn is proud of each of them for their contributions to the program. He was especially happy for one of his seniors that was able to play a big role this season after injuries disrupted her sophomore and junior years.

“As far as the season goes, it’s been a good season. I’ve enjoyed coaching this team. They’re a special group,” Welborn said. “They’re tremendous. They’re leaders. Kylee (Quinn) started for me on varsity in the ninth grade and tore her acl in her left leg in the 10th grade and didn’t get to play. Then at the start of her 11th grade season she tears it in her other leg and didn’t get to play so this year was good for her. I was proud for her to be able to come back and play this year and to be able to be on the floor.”

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