McIntosh boys, girls almost shock state-ranked Westlake

Fri, 02/08/2008 - 11:30pm
By: Kevin Wandra

The unranked McIntosh Chiefs were on the verge Friday of upsetting the state’s top-ranked team, the Westlake Lions, and handing them their first Region 2-AAAA loss of the season.

McIntosh at one point led by as many as 13, but the Lions roared back, with Oklahoma signee Raymond Willis delivering the dagger in McIntosh’s heart, a 3-pointer from the left corner with 1.2 seconds remaining in overtime that helped the Lions escape with their 13th consecutive victory, 62-61 in Peachtree City.

In the girls game, the unranked Lady Chiefs also came close to pulling out a shocking victory, but the third-ranked Lady Lions held on for their sixth straight victory, 38-31.

Entering the boys game, Westlake had won all 15 region games it had played, including a 79-58 thrashing of McIntosh in January.

The rematch proved far more difficult for Westlake (22-2, 16-0 region), which was surprising, considering two McIntosh starters sat out the first quarter due to illness (center Robert Chubb and forward Robert Michel), one was unavailable to play due to suspension (shooting guard Cameron Rich) and another was out with a season-ending knee injury (point guard Jake Tanis).

McIntosh (12-9, 8-8 region) still had the services of electrifying forward Jeremy Lampkin, who led McIntosh with 22 points, and guard Isaac Woodley (18 points) and center Carson Crandall (10 points) filled in admirably for McIntosh’s missing starters.

The Chiefs certainly had plenty of opportunities to take down the might Lions, but Willis, as he has done all season for Westlake, delivered when his team needed him most.

Willis, who scored a game-high 25 points, opened overtime with a runner that gave Westlake its first lead since the second quarter.

Then Westlake spread the court and patiently passed the ball around to kill the clock early in overtime, eliciting a chorus of boos from the crowd.

Westlake added one more point, on a free throw by Khamori Watts, to make it 59-56.

Woodley brought McIntosh back, sinking a runner and drawing a foul, which led to Woodley displaying an emphatic fist pump.

Woodley drained the resulting free throw to complete the three-point play and tie the game at 59 with 29.8 seconds remaining.

Willis responded with the go-ahead 3-pointer to hand Westlake a 62-59 lead.

Then, with both teams off the court during a timeout, Westlake was assessed a technical foul on its bench. Woodley stepped up to the free throw line and sank both free throws to make it 62-61.

McIntosh failed to get off another shot the rest of the way.

“We’ll learn from this game,” McIntosh coach Jason Eisele said. “It’s a tough loss, but it’s exactly what we needed heading into the region tournament next week. We know we can play well against Westlake, the No. 1 team in the state. It’s a step in the right direction.”

The Chiefs held a double-digit lead (43-31) heading into the fourth quarter, and it appeared they were set to stun the Lions. McIntosh’s lead remained in double digits as late as three minutes left in the quarter, thanks mainly to Lampkin, whose high-flying dunk and a finger-roll layup off a steal put McIntosh in front 51-41.

Westlake prevented McIntosh from pulling ahead even further with a 9-0 run that slashed the Chiefs’ lead to 51-50 with 1:27 remaining. Willis had four points, including a beautiful floater that glanced off the glass and into the basket, during the run.

A two-handed dunk and a reverse layup by Chubb and a free throw by Mikey Cerezola widened McIntosh’s lead to 56-51.

Westlake’s Matthew Fields brought his team back with two huge plays.

Fields drove into traffic in the lane, spun and hit an off-balance jumper, then drew a foul. He sank the resulting free throw to complete a three-point play.

Fields torched McIntosh again the next trip down the court, taking a pass from Willis, dribbling hard along the baseline and scoring on a reverse layup that tied the game at 56 with 6.9 seconds remaining.

McIntosh had one last chance to grab a shocking victory in regulation, but Michel’s baseline jumper was off the mark.

The Chiefs led by as many as 12 in the first half following a 12-0 run late in the second quarter. Lampkin and Crandall each scored five points for McIntosh during its run.

The girls came was surprisingly close until the end — Westlake led by only six with three minutes to go — mainly because the Lady Chiefs (10-11, 6-10 region) were able to slow down Westlake’s up-tempo offense.

“When we can slow teams down in transition, we are a pretty good halfcourt defensive team,” McIntosh coach David Dowse said. “We were able to slow down Westlake tonight. We lost, but we played a smart game.”

With their transition game bogged down, Westlake (19-2, 15-1 region) turned to its star center, Tamika Willis, and she came through, scoring a game-high 18 points. She was the lone Lady Lion to score in double figures.

McIntosh center Erin Justice came close to matching Willis’ output, scoring a team-high 12 points. Denise Hinton and Shelbi Sims both added seven for McIntosh.

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