- Cullman, Alabama

January 23, 2013

PREP BASKETBALL: Rusk, Warriors whip Vinemont in freshmen semifinal (PHOTO GALLERY)

By Rob Ketcham
The Cullman Times

HANCEVILLE — When you have more points in the first half than your opponent scores the entire ballgame, it's safe to say you're feeling it.

Tanner Rusk piled on all 15 of points in the first two quarters, and No. 1 West Point went on to wallop Vinemont 50-11 in Wednesday's ninth-grade boys semifinal.

Four players — Ethan Barnette, Rusk, Justin O'Neil and Kobe Smith — pitched in points early to help the Warriors jump out to a 12-2 lead.

The rest of the quarter was all Rusk, who knocked down a 3-pointer, a 2-pointer and put back a rebound to close out the first He was just as hot in the second, adding two more treys before halftime.

“I just felt like my teammates were getting me the ball in the right places, and I was just making the shots,” Rusk said.

One would imagine the freshman was all smiles about his team's 33-9 advantage at the break, but Rusk was still smarting about his team's troubles at the free-throw line after the game. West Point only connected on two of its 13 attempts from the charity stripe in the first half.

“This is a good gym to shoot in, but our free throws could have been better,” Rusk said with a sheepish smile. “If we want to beat Fairview, we have to do better than that.”

The Warriors limited the Eagles to just two points in the third quarter and zero in the fourth, allowing Rusk and the rest of West Point's starters to ride the bench while the reserves rounded out the victory.

“I think it helps just to rest, get everybody prepared and get the people who don't get to play a lot some playing time,” Rusk said concerning the advantages of completing a blowout.

A whopping nine Warriors contributed at least one point, with Rusk and O'Neil leading the way with 15 and nine points, respectively. Other West Point contributors were Smith, eight points; Barnette, six; Zane Bates, five; Jaxson Garrison, four; and Drew Jenkins, Brady Kent and Andrew Hudson, one apiece.

Vinemont's Luke Burch drained one shot in the first quarter and another in the third to account for his four points. Clay Taylor nailed a 3-pointer, while Hunter Green and Preston McClellan each tallied two points.

West Point and Fairview will open up championship Saturday at 1 p.m.


% Rob Ketcham can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 257 or at