Warriors turn back Spartans
West Caldwell’s boys’ basketball team weathered an early storm, kept its composure and secured a 55-47 road win over South Caldwell Tuesday night in the second meeting between the teams in a week.
The win improved West’s record to 3-0, while South fell to 0-2.
The Warriors found themselves down 13-2 less than five minutes into the contest but kept chipping away until they worked their way even with South. West took advantage of South’s inability to protect the basketball, especially in the second half, and generated a number of easy transition baskets that allowed them to pull away down the stretch.
West head coach Danny Anderson was pleased to see his team remain calm after falling behind early.
“I’m not a good timeout guy,” he said. “We don’t panic; that’s our nature. I kept telling them we were making mistakes. South was playing really well, and we were frustrated a little. But we did a good job of being patient and made some strides tonight. It was a total team effort.”
Mekhi Dula and Kalice Steptoe led the Warriors with 12 points each. Steptoe was especially effective in the final period when he scored eight points, assisted on several key baskets and had some heady defensive plays.
“Kalice stepped into a leadership role and wanted the ball to make good decisions,” Anderson said.
West also received steady play from its reserves. T.J. Hendrix came off the bench to knock down a trio of triples for nine points, while Ronnie Vasser-Jenkins added another eight. Chase Bowman scored all six of his points in the final stanza and also doled out four assists in a solid floor effort after the Warriors lost starters Ashton Smith and Tre Harper to head injuries when they violently collided into each other going for a loose ball just before the half.
“Chase had a tremendous floor game,” Anderson observed. “He did a little bit of everything for us.”
South was plagued by turnovers throughout the contest. The Spartans gave up the ball 30 times, with 17 of those coming in the second half. They committed six turnovers in the first 3:45 of the fourth quarter when West went on an 8-0 run that turned a four-point deficit into a four-point lead. South was only able to get as close as two the rest of the way.
“We’ve just got to get stronger with the ball; we have to value the ball,” South head coach Lee Swanson said. “We came out of the gate ready to play and had a four-point lead in the fourth quarter. But we gave the ball away too much.”
Jordyn Propst had 15 points and eight rebounds to lead the Spartans, with Jared Mask adding 12 points as South again pushed West only to fall short, as they did last week in a 56-52 setback. It is, however, something the Spartans may be able to build on as the season moves along.
“I’m proud of our guys; I can’t fault their effort,” Swanson said. “We’ve just got to get better. Who are we going to play any better than West Caldwell? We’ve competed with them at both places. If we can compete with those guys, we can have a good season.”
In junior varsity action, the Warriors claimed a 54-28 triumph. Ethan Bumgarner and Caleb Coffey each had 11 points to pace West Caldwell, while Chase Whisnant had five for South.
West will travel to Hibriten Friday, while South hosts East Burke.
West Caldwell 55, South Caldwell 47
West Caldwell^9^16^12^18 – 55
South Caldwell^15^12^10^10 – 47
WEST CALDWELL (55): Mekhi Dula 12, Kalice Steptoe 12, Hendrix 9, Vasser-Jenkins 8, Bowman 6, Patterson 6, Smith 2, Harper 0, Audrey 0, Hood 0, Watson 0, Braswell 0.
SOUTH CALDWELL (47): Jordyn Propst 15, Jared Mask 12, Smith 8, Wakefield 4, Barker 3, Braun 3, Eggers 2, Minton 0, Rivas 0, Greene 0