West Stokes hammers out another championship
WINSTON-SALEM â€” When the bright lights have been on West Stokes High School recently, albeit in football or basketball, the question hasnâ€™t been so much if it will win, but in what crazy, exciting, heart-stopping way will the Wildcats do it this time.
The seventh-seeded Wildcats dispensed of the top three seeds in the tournament on three consecutive days to claim the championship.
Not bad for a team that had its season start late because many of its key players were busy winning a football state championship.
â€śI really donâ€™t think that anyone outside of our locker room would have given us much of a shot,â€ť West Stokes coach Dan Spainhour said. â€śIf I was looking at it on paper, Iâ€™m not sure I would have given us a shot. But thatâ€™s why you donâ€™t play the games on paper. You canâ€™t put a price on kids believing and kids that are willing to give up themselves for the betterment of the team. Thatâ€™s what our kids do.â€ť
There were plenty of chances for the Wildcats to stop believing.
West needed a floater in the lane from point guard Dan Spainhour to tie the game 50-50 with 12.1 seconds to force overtime and an even crazier shot to push the game to a second extra session. The Phoenix led 56-53 with 7.3 to play in the overtime after Prepsâ€™ Mike Hughes scored a layup and was fouled after Spainhour lost possession after being bumped at half court.
But the Wildcats just wouldnâ€™t die.
Spainhour took the inbounds, sprinted up the floor and drained a game-tying 3-pointer while fading away in front of his teamâ€™s bench as time expired.
â€śI just knew I had to get something up,â€ť Josh Spainhour said. â€śIâ€™ve shot that shot a thousand times and I just trusted it.â€ť
The Wildcatsâ€™ point guard finished with a game-high 27 points, including 12-of-14 from the foul line and was named to the All-Tournament team. He was the only player on either team to play all 44 minutes and was on the court for all but 20 seconds in the tournament.
â€śEverybody tried to take him out,â€ť his coach/father said. â€śItâ€™s so easy to take Josh for granted. He gutted it out and we donâ€™t win without him.â€ť
The Phoenix had a chance to put the game away in the second overtime, leading 63-59 with 1:08 to play before a floater in the lane by Alston Furr sliced the lead to two. Prep turned the ball over underneath Westâ€™s basket on the ensuing inbounds, which led to Austin Flemingâ€™s game-tying basket in the paint with 42 seconds to play in the second overtime session.
The Phoenix held the ball for the final shot but Raekwon Harneyâ€™s last-second jumper was off target. The Wildcats dominated the third overtime, mostly from the line, connecting on 16-of-18 attempts.
Winston-Salem Prepâ€™s leading scorer Greg McClinton fouled out midway through the second overtime session with the Phoenix clinging to a four-point lead. Without him, Prep managed just three baskets and were outscored by 16. McClinton finished with 26 points and 10 rebounds in 40 minutes of play.
â€śOnce McClinton fouled out, that was just huge,â€ť Dan Spainhour said. â€śIâ€™ve watched his development since heâ€™s in our league and now that heâ€™s knocking down the outside shot, heâ€™s very tough to defend. When he fouled out, it seemed to change how they were able to get into their offense.â€ť
Fleming was named tournament MVP after an 18-point, four rebound performance. He re-injured the shoulder that has been hurt since early September in the first half and played most of the game with it wrapped.
Furr earned All-Tournament honors and had a double-double, 15 points and 11 rebounds. Demarion Jones chipped in 10 points and six rebounds in 43 minutes of work.
Hughes had a big game for the Phoenix with 19 points and six rebounds.
This game is the first of potentially four meetings between these Northwest 1A/2A rivals. The teams will face off on Jan. 10 at Winston-Salem Prep and again in the regular season finale on Feb. 10. They could also see each other in the conference tournament.
â€śTheyâ€™re a really good team and a team that weâ€™re very familiar with,â€ť Dan Spainhour said. â€śWeâ€™ll worry about those games when they get here. Hey, you canâ€™t take away the Frank Spencer trophy from us.â€ť
From the “where have I heard this before?” department â€” West Stokes was on the verge of getting run out of an ACC building by halftime. Winston-Salem Prep led 20-10 after a McClinton three-pointer with 6:30 remaining in the second quarter. The Wildcats methodically nibbled the lead down to one possession at the half and took advantage of opportunities late to win the game. Sounds pretty similar to the 2AA football state championship game.
Odd moment of the game â€” With a little more than two minutes remaining in the third overtime and West leading 72-68, Winston-Salem Prep coach Andre Gould called a timeout that he didnâ€™t have and his team was given a technical. Gould argued for several minutes that he was told by the two team scorekeepers that he in fact had one timeout remaining. The official scorekeeper said that he did not, the Phoenix were given a technical, and the Wildcats rolled from there to the win.
Numbers of the gameâ€” 15 Times the game was tied. 11 Lead changes.
West Stokes 83, Winston-Salem Prep 71 (3 OT)
Frank Spencer Holiday Classic * Championship Game * Wednesday * at Joel Coliseum, Winston-Salem
West Stokes 9 14 18 9 6 7 20 — 83
Winston-Salem Prep 14 11 16 9 6 7 8 — 71
WEST STOKES: Josh Spainhour 27, Austin Fleming 18, Alston Furr 15, Demarion Jones 10, Reid Goodman 6, Zach Hartle 6, Taylor Rhodes 1
WINSTON-SALEM PREP: Greg McClinton 26, Mike Hughes 19, Chad Hicks 9, Raekwon Harney 6, Coye Simmons 5, Kerry Campbell 3, Aaron Lipscomb 3