West advances to CVAC finals
Behind Mekhi Dula's 12 fourth quarter points, the West Caldwell boys' basketball team held off a late surge by Newton-Conover to defeat the Red Devils 54-49 on Thursday in Hickory.
"We wanted to get the ball and take high percentage shots," said West head coach Danny Anderson. "I'm proud of them. We had some chances to extend the lead, but made a few mistakes. But I told the kids to stay positive tonight and we'll fix those when we watch film."
The Warriors advance to the Catawba Valley 2A Conference (CVAC) tournament championship to face East Burke tonight at Catawba Valley Community College (CVCC) at 8 p.m. The game will be rematch of last year's tournament championship where East Burke defeated West 54-48.
"They (East Burke) are well-coached and have two prime time players in Clay Byrd and Trever Hyatt," said Anderson. "I think there's a lot of mutual respect between us. It's going to be a war."
Newton scored the first point of the game on a free throw by Tyoun Shuford and the Red Devils would not lead again. West went on to score the next nine points of the quarter. Deshawn Patterson scored seven of the nine, including a 3-pointer. Jalen Connor hit Newton's only field goal of the quarter with 3:30 remaining to end the Warriors' run. West led 11-5 after the first.
West extended its lead to 18-8 early in the second on another Patterson triple and baskets by Dula and Ronnie Vasser-Jenkins. However, the Red Devils responded with a 10-0 run in under two minutes. Alex Johnson and Sam Avis each knocked down 3-pointers during the run. A basket by Dula and two free throws by Vasser-Jenkins put West up 24-20 at halftime.
Patterson scored back-to-back buckets to open the second half, but Newton fired right back with triple by Shuford. Kalice Steptoe then scored four straight to give the Warriors a 32-23 advantage with five minutes to play in the third. However, the Red Devils fought back with a basket by Connor and Johnson converted a three-point play cut the deficit to 32-28. The two teams exchanged baskets before the end of the quarter to make the score 34-30 in favor of West.
In the fourth quarter, Dula took over. The sophomore broke away from the defense and converted a layup while being intentionally fouled. He hit one of two free throws to give West a 39-34 lead. Moments later, Dula hit two more free throws and Vasser Jenkins drove down the lane and made a layup to vive the Warriors a 47-39 advantage. Patterson followed with another West basket to open up a 10-point lead with 1:20 to play.
Newton would not go away. Over a span of 20 seconds, the Red Devils scored seven points to cut the deficit to three. Johnson hit a three and Connor hit two shots in the run. However, Dula hit three free throws and Patterson hit two free throws late to send the Warriors to the CVAC championship game.
Patterson led all scorers with 20 points and Dula added 16. Steptoe and Vasser-Jenkins each chipped in with six points.
For Newton, Connor scored a team-high 17 points and Shuford finished with 14. Johnson added nine in the loss.
West Caldwell 54, Newton-Conover 49
West Caldwell 11-13-10-20 – 54
Newton-Conover 5-15-10-19 – 49
WEST CALDWELL (54): Deshawn Patterson 20, Mekhi Dula 16, Kalice Steptoe 6, Ronnie Vasser-Jenkins 6, Mark Hood 4, Ashton Smith 2, TJ Hendrix 0, Chase Bowman 0, Tre Harper 0.
NEWTON-CONOVER (49): Jalen Connor 17, Tyoun Shuford 14, Alex Johnson 9, Sam Avis 5, Joshuwell McCombs 2, Josh Ramseur 2, Kevin Cline 0, Tyrell Fleming 0, Gunner Baldwin 0.