South and West Stokes squared off for the fourth time this season Thursday night. The Wildcats ran away with a 62-41 win propelling them into the Western Piedmont Athletic Conference championship game against three-time league defending champions, North Surry Greyhounds (21-4, 9-1) Friday at Forbush High.
“We played really well defensively,” said Wildcats coach Dan Spainhour. “I thought that was key for us. You could see they struggled to score offensively and we mixed it up with some man, which they probably weren’t expecting, and we executed and played with some aggressiveness and confidence.”
West opened the game on a 7-0 run. With 3:42 in the first quarter, the Sauras hadn’t scored, but things quickly turned in their favor as both big men for West, Josh Turner and Devan Hairston, received their second fouls with Turner leaving the game. Tre Scales connected on two free throws and made another basket cutting the Cat’s lead to 7-4 with a little over two-minutes left in the quarter.
At 11-6 and 1:17 left in the first, Hairston was whistled for his third foul and had to sit the remainder of the half. Saura Ben Bowen connected on one-of-two free throws making the score 11-7, but then freshman Isaac Spainhour buried a deadly three-pointer and the Wildcats led 14-9.
“We didn’t play smart when Turner and Hairston were sitting on the bench,” said Sauras coach Jason Clark. “We threw up three’s instead of getting the ball down to Michal (Phillips) and Ben (Bowen).”
In the second quarter, South cut the score to 14-11 on two free throws and that was as close as they would come the rest of the night. West went on a 6-1 run forcing Clark to call a timeout to settle his troops.
South only trailed by five with 4:07 left in the quarter, but West ran off a 12-2 score and closed the half at 32-17 behind Isaac Spainhour’s nine third quarter points.
In the second half, South came out of the locker room with a lot of energy and cut the Wildcats lead to 39-31 with 2:58 left in the quarter, forcing Spainhour to use a timeout.
“We started getting the ball down low and scoring like I knew we could,” commented Clark. “They just responded and shot the ball extremely well tonight. Reid (Fulk) shot the ball like the old Reid I remember.”
Fulk connected on a jump shot giving the Wildcats a ten point lead and then moments later drilled a three-pointer off of a screen handing them their largest advantage of the game at 48-33 with 8.9-seconds left in the quarter. After a foul from West with 0.3 seconds left, Bowen made two free throws, but the Sauras still trailed 48-35 to end the third.
West applied some defensive pressure in the fourth outscoring South 14-6 to run away with the game.
“I love it when a plan comes together,” said Spainhour. “We had an extra day to practice, and that helped us. Wesley (Misenheimer) not playing hurt them as well. He did a great job on Isaac (Spainhour) last time, but they put another great defender on him with (Tre) Scales. We just played well and played with a lot of energy. We got some valuable playing time from our bench tonight and that helped us as well.”
Isaac Spainhour led four Wildcats in double figures with 19 points in the game and added four three-pointers. Fulk had 12 points, while Noah Spainhour chipped in 11 and Turner added 10, eight in the fourth quarter, including a massive dunk. Phillips led the Sauras with 13 points and Scales added 11.
The Wildcats entered the WPAC championship game against North Surry on Friday night at Forbush High. South (18-8, 7-3) will await the NCHSAA 2A state playoff pairings, which should come out sometime on Saturday.
Robert Money can be reached at 336-749-1193.