By Jake Winfrey
The Cullman Times
COLD SPRINGS —
The West Point varsity boys’ basketball team has been known for its tenacious defense all season.
On Monday night, though, coach Randy Jones got to see what his team was capable of on offense.
The Warriors (20-9) received big contributions from Kris Keller and Ryder Jones, made just enough stops late and eked out a 70-68 overtime thriller over Cold Springs.
“It was a heck of a game,” Jones said. “We usually get our offense from our defense, but tonight, we did a really good job getting points out of our half-court sets.”
Trailing by 11 early in the second quarter, West Point started to score at will, getting two baskets from Keller and one each from Jones, Tristan Dubberly and Austin Ray to cut its deficit to one heading into halftime.
The Warriors built up a seven-point lead late in the third quarter thanks to domination in the paint by Jones and Smith. The two big men combined for nine points in the frame to help their team out to a four-point cushion.
“We had those two guys who gave us an edge inside,” Jones said. “Coming into the game, that was our one big advantage against them.”
In the fourth quarter, the two offenses really started to shine.
Cold Springs’ Tristan Chambers hit two of his seven 3-pointers in the game to give his team a 53-50 lead midway through the frame.
After a quick West Point basket, Eagles’ forward Josh Freeman blasted a trey of his own to extend his team’s advantage back to four.
It wasn’t to be for Cold Springs, however, as Dubberly buried a 3-pointer and Keller hit two clutch free throws late to send the game to overtime.
Trailing 65-64, West Point’s Josh Looney connected on his second 3-pointer of the evening and Smith added a layup to give the Warriors their own four-point lead with under a minute to play.
On the ensuing Eagles’ possession, Chambers knocked down a 30-foot 3-pointer to cut the deficit back to one.
With 18.3 seconds remaining, West Point’s Jordan McKenzie made one of two from the free-throw line to give the Warriors a slim two-point cushion.
Cold Springs’ last hope came on a long-distance Chayse Elliott 3-pointer that bounced of the side of the rim as time expired, sealing West Point’s win.
“That trio they have (Elliott, Layne Rice and Chambers) is one of the best around,” Jones said. “We knew whoever took that final shot, it had a chance of going in. But we were able to get a big stop and win the game.”
Keller dropped in 20 points, while Jones contributed 16. Dubberly finished up with nine, and both Looney and Smith netted eight.
Jones said the level of point distribution has been great for his team all season long.
“It’s been like this the whole year,” he said. “They’re the closest team I’ve ever coached. I don’t have a single player that averages over 10 points a game, and as a coach, you love to see that.”
Chambers ended up with 24 for Cold Springs, while Elliott and Rice scored 17 and nine, respectively.
Up next for West Point is an area tournament showdown with Cullman. The game is set for Friday at 7:30 p.m. in East Limestone.
Meanwhile, the Eagles (15-10) will remain at home for a first-round matchup with Lamar County. Tipoff is set for Friday at 7 p.m.
% West Point 58, Cold Springs 49: The Lady Warriors used hot shooting from Rachel Persall and Mallory Walker to pull off the upset of the Class 2A, No. 6 Eagles on Monday night.
The two guards combined for 37 points in the win.
“We’ve really worked hard to get where we are today,” Persall said. “Our goal is to improve every day, and it’s so great to see all of the work pay off in this win.”
The Warriors overwhelmed Cold Springs on both ends of the floor, taking 11- and 17-point advantages heading into halftime and the fourth quarter.
“This is a tough place to play,” Persall added. “I’m glad we were able to hang on to the lead.”
Persall scored 19 points, while Walker was good for 18. Madison Rusk added eight as well.
Hayden West hit four 3-pointers for the Eagles and finished with 17 points to lead her team. Chloe Harbison and Caitlyn Hall dropped in 13 apiece.
West Point will travel to Hartselle on Thursday to take on the Tigers in the first round of its area tournament. The game will tipoff at 6 p.m. Hartselle holds a 2-0 advantage over the Warriors this season.
Cold Springs will play the first game of their area tournament Thursday at 7 p.m., when the Eagles take on fourth-seeded Oakman.
% Jake Winfrey can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 258 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.