Patriot Boys Get Britt in Semifinals
Clutch free-throw shooting helped the Pinecrest boys advance to Wednesday's Mid-Southeastern Conference tournament semifinal game against Jack Britt.
Josh Scales, Tony Allbrooks and Cedrick Threadgill each sank a pair from the charity stripe in the final 1:03 of the Patriots' 58-53 victory over Westover. Julian Brewer scored a basket in transition during that critical time and led coach Mike Apple's squad with 12 points.
The third-seeded Patriots take a 19-6 record into the 6 p.m. game at the site of the highest remaining seed, Seventy-First. Second-seeded Jack Britt, also 19-6, defeated Richmond Senior 61-40 in Monday's second game at Britt.
Seventy-First, the first seed, and No. 5 Douglas Byrd meet in the other semifinal game at 7:30 p.m. The Falcons defeated Hoke County 71-44, while Byrd got past Scotland County 66-64 in overtime. The championship game is scheduled for Friday night, also at the site of the highest remaining seed.
"What's the old saying -- survive and advance?" Apple said with Jack Britt and Richmond warming up behind him up for Monday's second game at the home of the Buccaneers. "We kind of survived this one."
Late in the first half, the Patriots showed signs of pulling away from a team that upset them 68-63 last week in Fayetteville. Guard John Kropp fed James Baldwin for two, and seconds later was on the receiving end for a layup that gave the Pats a 23-12 lead.
But the Wolverines got right back into it with an 8-0 run. The Patriot lead was 25-20 at the intermission.
"I asked the boys at halftime, 'Would you rather practice the rest of this week or play games?'" Apple said. "They all agreed they'd rather play games."
Midway through the third period, a jumper by Ewon Wright gave Westover its only lead of the game at 34-33. Threadgill then fed Jarrin Wooten for a basket to put the Patriots back on top.
The lead was a wobbly three at 50-47 when Scales went to the foul line for a one-and-one with 1:03 left in the game. He had re-entered moments earlier and went to the line with gauze in one of his nostrils after suffering a bloody nose. He calmly swished both attempts.
"I don't breathe differently when I shoot," Scales said, "so it didn't really bother me."
Allbrooks was next up for a one-and-one test after a basket by the Wolves' Mike Jones again made the margin three points. The Patriot guard missed the free throw and raced after the loose ball. The outcome of a mad scramble was the 10th foul on the Wolves and two more free throws for Allbrooks. This time he sank both, making it 56-51 with 12.7 seconds remaining.
"When I shot the first one, it came off my pinky and didn't feel right," Allbrooks said. "I said, 'I've got to get it back.' When I miss a free throw, I want to get a steal. That's my goal."
Another basket by Jones, and pair at the charity stripe by Threadgill completed the scoring and made Wednesday a game day.
"The last 50 seconds, I thought we did a good job of keeping the floor spread out, forcing them to foul us or give up a layup," Apple said.
On a night that Wooten, the team's leading scorer, was getting double-teamed, and only scored five points, Brewer provided an offensive lift. Two of his baskets came on dunks.
"Julian is an above the rim player, there's no doubt about it," Apple said of the 6-foot-3 junior. "He's pretty good when he gets in that lane and elevates like he can. When he slam dunks the ball, it really picks up our team."
Scales and Baldwin followed Brewer with nine points apiece. Jones led Westover with 15. The Wolves ended their season with a record of 5-19. In Jack Britt, the Patriots will be facing a team they split with during the regular season.
Pinecrest 13 12 15 18 -- 58
Westover 7 13 15 18 -- 53
Pinecrest Scales 2 4-4 9, Person 2 0-0 4, Cole 2 0-0 4, Brewer 6 0-2 12, Wooten 2 1-2 5, Baldwin 4 1-1 9, McCullough 0 0-0 0, Kropp 1 0-0 2, Threadgill 1 2-2 4, Allbrooks 1 2-3 4, Towns 2 1-1 5. Totals 23 11-15 58. Westover McClellan 1 1-2 3, Wright 4 0-0 9, Ja. Campbell2 0-0 6, Jones 5 5-5 15, Wilson 3 0-0 6, Tate 35-6 11, Ford 0 1-2 1, Watson 1 0-0 2, McDuffie 0 0-0 0, Johnson 0 0-0 0. Totals 19 12-15 53. Three-point goals: Pinecrest 1 Scales; Westover 3(Ja. Campbell 2, Wright).
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