by Jacob Bogage
Sherwood Warriors 60- Westminster Owls 48
MPSSAA 4A North Regional Semi-Final
With 3:34 left in regulation of the 4A North Regional Semi-Final the Sherwood Warriors (18-7) had an interesting strategy—don’t shoot.
“We were just trying to get as much out of the clock as we could because we knew we were up and we didn’t really need to score,” said point guard JourdainMcCants. “That was the best thing to do at that time.”
Up 11 after head coach Dondrell Whitmore took timeout to reveal the new game-plan, the tactic surprisingly worked. The Warriors next possession, they burned over one minute off the clock and finished with an uncontested Scott Bolen layup.
After a defensive stop on the other end McCants (5 points) held the ball between half court and the top of the key for over 20 seconds, escaping multiple double teams and five-second violations before finally barking out a set play.
He forced the Owls hand until their nonchalant full-court pressure turned into a frantic front-court scramble. McCants found Charlie Rogers (12 points, 7 rebounds) in the post who fed a cutting Joey DeStefano (13 points, 7 rebouds) on two consecutive possessions then Scott Bolen (20 points) in transition who threw down a thunderous dunk to silence the Westminster crowd.
“As a senior, you’ve got to play like you’re supposed to or you’re going home,” Whitmore said. “[McCants] stepped up. He’s been our starting point guard all year long and he’s been playing well down the stretch.”
It was largely McCants’s defensive presence that forced the Owls into a large deficit. Playing at the bottom of Sherwood’s 1-3-1 zone, he was arguably the main antagonist that led to 15 first-half Westminster turnovers.
“That’s the defensive intensity we’ve needed all year. We finally showed it and we played excellent defense,” he said. “Defense is always our number one focus because it’s sometimes been lacking so we like to make it our top priority.”
“Defense stepped up. I think last game they got kind of tight and this game they got really motivated on defense because that wins championships,” Whitmore added, referencing the Warriors’ second-round overtime victory at Southwestern in which they held the Sabers to just 38 points.
Sherwood’s defense combined with rebounding (the killed the Owls on the glass 23-8) and 62 percent shooting made Bolen say this was one of the more impressive wins he has been a part of.
“Perfect game,” he said. “We withstood their runs in a hard place to play and teams that aren’t as mentally tough wouldn’t be able to do. That’s a sign of potentially a championship team.”