Colts advance to RRC semifinals
By Toby Thorpe for the SNAP
On Tuesday night, West Stanly took a 50-34 win over Central Academy of Technology and Arts to advance to the men’s semifinal round of the Rocky River 2A conference tournament. With the win, the Colts (13-12) will face second-seeded Mt. Pleasant (16-8) at 8:30 p.m. Thursday at Forest Hills. Behind the strong inside play of Hayden Greene and pinpoint passing of Carter Phillips, West Stanly jumped to a 9-0 lead by the 4:33 mark of the first quarter, forcing a quick timeout call by CATA coach David Daniels. After misses at each end following the timeout, the Cougars’ Wyatt Brown sank a 3-pointer from the top of the key to put the visitors on the board, but Greene continued to prove unstoppable inside, scoring West’s final seven points of the quarter on a stick back, a free throw, a dunk and a layup to push the home squad to a 16-7 lead by the first buzzer. In all, the junior center scored 13 of the Colts’ first period points, with the remaining three tallied by Nick Parker on a long range bomb. Second quarter play saw West Stanly coach John Thompson begin to substitute freely, while his team continued to score freely as well. The Colts marked the first 11 points of the period and opened a 20-point gap before CATA’s Dalton Bain swished a three-ball with 3:15 in the half, followed by a Ben Polk layup. Greene hit from the paint with 1:25 left, followed by back-to-back CATA baskets by Austin Maske and Bryson Miller. The Colts played for the last shot, and Greene’s last second jumper rimmed out, but Zack Grice tipped the ball in a millisecond before the halftime buzzer, sending the teams to the locker room with West Stanly on top 31-16. After misses at both ends to open the third, Miller hit a runner in the lane to start the second half scoring, but freshman guard Trevor Kelly dropped a jumper at the Colts end. A Miller basket was sandwiched between two Grice jumpers over the next 75 seconds to push the home lead to 18. Then after the two teams combined for four misses, a turnover and a held ball, senior reserve guard Robert Sells knocked down a triple from directly in front of the Colts’ bench to give his team a 41-20 lead. CATA then proceeded to score the final four of the period on a Miller layup and two free throws. With West Stanly comfortably ahead 41-24, both teams used the final period to work on basics and rotate in reserves. CATA’s Eric Fincker opened the scoring, but West posted seven of the next nine points to push the lead to 22 (50-28) with 4:52 remaining. The Cougars tallied the final six points of the contest, resulting in the 50-34 final. Thompson had mixed feelings about his team’s performance. “We did some things well, but we have got to shoot better than we did tonight,” said the eighth-year coach. “Zack (Grice) is playing like he’s not ready for the season to end, and Hayden (Greene) was as good on defense tonight as I’ve seen him all year. On offense, we did a good job getting the ball inside to him,” Thompson added. West’s Greene, Grice and Parker were the game’s top scorers with 15, 14 and 14 points, respectively, while Miller paced the Cougars with 11. Turnovers were virtually even (West 11, CATA 12), but the Colts dominated the boards with 40 rebounds to CATA’s 28. Neither squad was stellar from behind the arc as West Stanly was 6-for-23 (26 percent) and CATA was 2-for-10 (20 percent). The game was a clean one, with only 15 fouls whistled all night (West 7, CATA 8), and only 13 free throws attempted. West hit 6-of-10 (60 percent), while CATA hit 2 of 3 (67 percent). Toby Thorpe is a freelance contributor for The Stanly News & Press.