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January 29, 2013

PREP BASKETBALL: West Point squads pick up pair of county wins over Vinemont

WEST POINT — The West Point varsity boys may have been disappointed with a runner-up finish at the county tournament, but the Warriors weren’t about to let that ruin their Senior Night festivities.

West Point (18-9) played tremendous defense early and sprinkled in some offensive firepower in the second half to cruise to a 55-30 victory over Vinemont on Tuesday night.

“You always worry about the first game back from the county tournament,” Warriors’ coach Randy Jones said. “They were ready to play, though. We played great on defense, and while the shots weren’t falling early, we finally got rolling there late in the game.”

After a tepid first half for both teams, West Point began to show why its been one of the top teams in the county this season.

The Warriors opened the third quarter on a 16-5 run, backed by junior Ryder Jones’ 10 points to extend their lead to 22 points. From there, it was a matter of clearing the bench and watching the time run off the clock.

With the area tournament rapidly approaching, Jones said he’s looking to find team improvement in one area — defense.

“I’m a big believer in playing defense,” he said. “When you get to this point in the season, you’re going to be playing good teams where one stop might be the difference in the game. We aren’t going to get a stop every time, but if we are prepared, we can step up and hopefully get one when we need it.”

When West Point wasn’t playing outstanding team defense, it was spreading the ball around effectively on offense.

The Warriors had 11 players contribute at least two points on the night, including all seven seniors.

One of those upperclassmen, Wesley Smith, led all scorers with 12 points, while Josh Looney and Kris Keller added seven and six each, respectively.

Other Warrior contributors included Tristan Dubberly, six points; Jordan McKenzie and Nick Nuss, three apiece; and Austin Ray, Mason Voce, Zack Tilley and Caleb Marsh, two.

Jones had plenty to say about his departing seniors, which include Looney, Keller, Ray, Voce, Marsh, Nuss and Smith.

“They’ve just been great for our program,” he said. “They won county as juniors, and they’ve taken this program to the point I want it to be.”

The coach added he hopes the underclassmen follow in their footsteps, both on and off the court.

“Hopefully, these younger guys can keep the program where it’s at now,” Jones said. “Those seniors we are losing, they are more than just basketball players. They’ve shown great leadership and are just great, young men.”

West Point will travel to Fairview on Thursday night in a rematch of last Saturday’s county championship game.

Garrett Sipe and Riley Foust led Vinemont with six points apiece, while teammate Logan Wallace netted five. Both Jacob Smith and Blake Jones added four. Duncan Hopper contributed three and Lance Stanley, two.

Vinemont heads to Curry on Thursday.

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