Clarksville, TN – The first round District 10-AAA tournament game between the #1 Northwest Vikings (17-10) and the #8 West Creek Coyotes (4-24) at Northwest High School Friday night came very close to being an upset. However, some last second defense and a clutch free throw made by Northwest senior center Marice Wright kept that from happening.
With five seconds left in the game, Wright made a free throw to give the Vikings the 53-52 win over the Coyotes and advance to the semifinals of the District 10-AAA tournament.
This was the sixth time the Vikings won a game by three points or less this season. They came into Friday’s game with two wins against the Coyotes already.
“Our experience has helped us out. I told them at the beginning of the game the hardest thing in the world to do is to beat a team three times, especially a quality team,” Vikings head coach Vincent Turner said. “There is so much parity in our district that each team is a quality team. We played a really good team tonight and we are blessed to come out of here with three wins against them.”
The third win did not come easy for the Vikings. They appeared to have the game in control with a 10-point lead, 50-40, with less than two minutes remaining in the game. A minute later, senior Coyote guard James Johnson made a 3-pointer from the corner of the court that started a rally for the Coyotes.
The Coyotes sent Viking players to the foul line where they shot just 3-of-8 in the last minute of the game. While the Vikings missed at the free throw line, the Coyotes continued their rally.
Senior Coyote center A.J. Robinson made two free throw to make the score 50-45 with 43 seconds on the clock. After one made Viking free throw, senior Aaron Hardison made the score 51-47. Hardison also converted a three-point play from the foul line to make the score 52-50 with 20 seconds remaining in the game.
On the ensuing Vikings inbound play, Johnson stripped the ball from a Vikings player and tied the game, 52-52, with 11 seconds left on the clock. The Vikings responded by getting the ball up the court and launching an alley-oop to Wright before they could be fouled.
Wright went up strong with two Coyote defenders caught the ally-oop pass and was fouled trying to finish. He was sent to the foul line with five seconds on the clock. Wright missed the first free throw, but the second was all net. It turned out to be the game winner.
“He (Wright) got in a little foul trouble. He left his feet a couple times,“ coach Turner said. “But this being his second year playing basketball, he has grown in leaps in bounds. I am so proud of him. It is only fitting that he hit the free throw. I am glad he got it.”
“I was trying to just tell them to calm down, the opportunities would come,“ coach Turner said. “I knew all day today, I could see that look in there eyes, they were ready to go. They were wound up. This is their first time being there. They were excited. It was just a matter of slowing them down and getting them playing within themselves. I suspect we should play better tomorrow.”
Dezman Stacker led the Vikings with 20 points. Elijah McCoin scored 16 points. Wright finished the game with nine points, seven rebounds and a block. Eight Coyote players scored in the game. Robinson led the team with 20 points.
The win advances the Vikings to the semifinals of the District 10-AAA tournament being played at Kenwood High School Saturday, February 14th. They will play the Clarksville High Wildcats.
Northwest 53, West Creek 52
|West Creek Coyotes||9||8||12||23||21|
Dezman Stacker 20, Elijah McCoin 16, JaRyan Young 8, Marice Wright 9.
A.J. Robinson 20, Wayne Ames 7, De’Marccus Martin 7, James Johnson 5, Yorel Carter 4, Aaron Hardison 5, Stacey Tindall 2, Tairell Fletcher 2.
District 10-AAA Tournament First Round Results:
#1 Northwest 53
#8 West Creek 52
#2 Northeast 50
#7 Henry County 38
#4 Clarksville 54
#5 Springfield 46