BREAKAWAY — West Valley’s Brandon Rockwood (left) attempts to block Springville’s Greg Beatty, during the Emerling Holiday Tournament, held Dec. 27 – 29. Photos by Dave DeLuca.
WEST VALLEY — The West Valley Wildcats competed in the Emerling Ford Holiday Tournament held at Springville-Griffith Institute on Dec. 27 –29.
On Dec. 29, West Valley took on the Gowanda Panthers. When the Wildcats were down 10 points, with 2:30 left in the fourth quarter, West Valley’s Colton Meyers cut the game to 56 – 60 on a right-handed layup, off a drive.
After the Wildcats got a defensive stop, West Valley’s Mike Grigsby hit a 3-pointer, while being fouled, with 1.1 seconds left in the fourth quarter. He completed the 4-point play on the ensuing free throw, to knot the score at 60 – 60.
Gowanda’s Chase Williams was called for the foul, his fifth, and was taken out of the game. Another Gowanda player had fouled out, earlier in the game, leaving the Panthers with four available players. The game went into overtime, with West Valley playing five on four.
AWAY FROM THE CROWD — WVCS’s Derek Wells takes off on a fast break on Dec. 27, against Springville.
Dylan Westfall gave the Wildcats the lead, after getting a steal and taking it for a coast-to-coast layup, bringing the score to 62 – 61, but Gowanda’s Zack Stevens hit a turnaround jumper, to take the lead back, at 63 – 62. WVCS’s Brandon Rockwood tied the game at 63 – 63 on a free throw, but Gowanda responded, to win the game 66 – 63.
Mike Grigsby’s 15 fourth quarter points helped the Wildcats tie up the game. Grigsby had 23 points in the second half and finished with 29 for the game.
“After the Springville game, we worked at practice with Mike, on how he approaches the basket and how he goes up with it,” said West Valley Coach Jason Kearney. “He made those corrections and it showed. He really looked for the ball in the second half and had the hot hand. He was playing with confidence and came through, when we needed him to most.”
West Valley created steals and racked up points, in transition off those steals, finishing with 17 steals, as a team. Kearney said he believed his boys played hard and did their best, against Gowanda.
“I stress that to the guys, about working hard for the entire game and good things will happen, and it showed on Saturday,” he said. “When were down 10, with 2:30 left, it would have been very easy to fold and call it quits, but they didn’t. They fought hard and, when they play that hard and fight like they did, we are a dangerous team. We fall apart at times [this season], but we never really did, against Gowanda. They kept grinding and it paid off, to the point where we had a great chance to win, but came up short.
“They were obviously upset they lost, but I stressed to them that they played one heck of a game and just met a team that also had one heck of a game,” he added. “You can’t ask for more excitement, in a game. It was a lot of fun, even though we came out on the short end of it, but we can learn a lot from it.”
Scoring, along with Grigsby, were Marcus Enser, who had 9 points; Brandon Rockwood, who had 7; Derek Wells, with 4 points and seven rebounds and Myers, with 5 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and seven steals. Westfall racked up 4 points and 10 rebounds, while Alex Fuller had 3 points and Cole Stanbro had 2.
West Valley played Springville-Griffith Institute on Dec. 27, during the opening round of the holiday basketball tournament. During that game, Grigsby hit a 3-pointer, with 2:45 left in the second quarter, to tie the game at 18 – 18. West Valley went into halftime down 24 – 22. Springville went on a 20 – 4 run, after halftime, to break the game open and beat West Valley 48 – 36.
“I thought we played very weak and slow against Springville, especially in the third quarter,” Kearney said. “We missed a lot of easy shots, but, in general, played slow and not as strong as we have, in the past. We struggled a lot rebounding and had our season-high in turnovers.
“Springville’s pressure, late in the third quarter, really got to us and we didn’t have an answer for it. They out-hustled us to loose balls and I have to give Springville a lot of credit hustling and being aggressive on the offensive boards and loose balls.”
Leading Wildcats in scoring was Westfall, with a season-high 12-points. Enser was right behind him, with 8.
The Wildcats will head to Sherman on Jan. 5 to continue their league schedule and seek their first win of the season.
“We definitely know we can turn it around and get some wins in league play, but only if we play like we did, this weekend,” Kearney said. “If we keep grinding and working like they did, this weekend, the rest of the season could be a completely different story, and the kids know that.”