By Rob Ketcham
The Cullman Times
HANCEVILLE — West Point and Fairview's junior varsity boys' teams finally brought a bit of drama to the Cullman County Basketball Tournament.
After two days full of mostly one-sided affairs, the third-seeded Warriors and No. 2 Aggies needed almost all 28 minutes to determine a winner. By the time the dust settled, it was West Point that earned a date with Vinemont in the title tilt, defeating Fairview by a gritty 49-44 final.
“That's where we want to be,” Warrior coach Scott Brown said of reaching the championship. “I thought we had some guys, not just one, who stepped up and came through when we needed them to.
“They're a great bunch of kids. They've got great mommas and daddies. They've just been raised the right way, and they wanted to compete tonight. I was proud of them.”
The Aggies had every ounce of the early momentum and rode it to an 18-13 lead at the end of the first quarter. The Warriors responded in the second, though, grabbing the lead once on a 3-pointer by Levi Laney and again right before the halftime buzzer on a sneaky layup by Bryant Farley.
West Point continued to pad its cushion in the third quarter and ended the seven-minute stretch in fashion when Laney split a pair of defenders and absorbed contact on an off-balance shot under the basket to initiate a three-point play as time expired.
Only down 34-29 heading into the final frame, Fairview kept battling and managed to close the deficit to one on several occasions. Every time it appeared the Aggies were going to retake the lead, however, the Warriors' Trent Campbell responded with a crucial basket in the paint.
Campbell's sixth point of the fourth quarter put West Point up by two late, and Riley Voce, who was forced to sit the bench for much of the second half with four fouls, iced the game shortly thereafter by knocking down a pair of free throws.
“We expect him to do that,” Brown said of the way Campbell came through in the clutch. “We know he can. I try to tell my guys, 'Trust your teammates,' and they did. He made some big plays.”
Laney finished the night with a game-high 19 points, and Campbell accounted for 11. Will Wrenn and Zack Tilley both posted six points for the Warriors, while Voce picked up five and Farley had two.
Chance Hill and Chris Green tied for Fairview's top scorer with 10 points apiece. Hunter Brewer and Devan Parker each contributed eight points. Hayden Maples put up four points, and Dylan Smith and Tyler Yearwood both pitched in a single bucket.
West Point will have the rest of the week off before returning to Wallace State's Tom Drake Coliseum on Saturday at 4 p.m. to take on top-seeded Vinemont for the JV boys' championship.
“We haven't really looked at them (Vinemont) right now because we've been getting ready for Fairview, but they're a good team,” Brown said. “It'll be a challenge for us. We're looking forward to it.”
% Rob Ketcham can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 257 or at email@example.com.