By Bryan Davis
Two weeks ago, Laquintis Robertson threw up a last-second shot against the New Hope Trojans, in overtime. Everyone on West Point’s side thought for sure Robertson drew a foul on the missed shot, which would have allowed the senior a chance to tie the game with free throws.
He didn’t get the foul call, and the Green Wave fell by two.
On Tuesday night, West Point found themselves in the exact situation. Tied 50-50 with New Hope, in overtime, Robertson went to the air for a last-second would be winning shot, and the New Hope defenders were all over him.
This time he got the call.
“He wasn’t nervous,” West Point head coach Brad Cox said after the game. “He came over and said he had them. We talked nothing about them. We talked about how to defend that last one-second shot.”
New Hope called a timeout to ice West Point’s leading scorer, but it was to no avail. Robertson’s first shot went in, electrifying the West Point crowd and the Green Wave bench.
The Trojans attempting another icing with a second timeout. Robertson’s shot fell the same as the first, giving his team a 52-50 lead, followed by yet another timeout.
Robertson made the final free shot, making it impossible for New Hope to win it, even if they happened to sink the unlikely shot, with one second remaining on the clock.
New Hope threw the ball in, and the clock expired, sending the Trojans home and the Green Wave to the district championship game against Oxford tomorrow night.
As elated as the West Point crowd and team was after the overtime buzzer sounded, they were that much frustrated early on, as New Hope managed to dominate West Point in the first half.
In the opening quarter, West Point got off to an early lead, but it was New Hope that came back to take a 15-14 lead into the second quarter.
“New Hope did a great job,” Cox said. “They had a great game plan. They wanted to slow us down, and they did. We were able to adjust in the second half, and made some plays defensively, which led to some transition buckets.”
The second quarter saw New Hope pull away, taking all the momentum to the visitor’s side of the court. With half the second period gone, the Green Wave were down 30-20. They did manage to score four to make it a 33-24 halftime score.
When the two teams returned to the court, West Point had made the necessary adjustments, but it would take all 16 minutes remaining in regulation to balance the deficit.
“We went into halftime, and there was very little to say,” Cox said. “We made just a little bit of a change, going zone, but the kids knew what was at stake, and they made the plays. They were very determined tonight.”
West Point put up a modest 13 points in the third quarter. The defense had made the most of the halftime break, and they were fresh, as they held the Trojans to just seven points in the third.
This left New Hope with a slim 40-37 lead going into the final quarter of regulation. In that fourth frame, West Point handled the ball with great skill and precision.
Daryl Thomas bolstered the offense with a pair of three-pointers, and as the two minute mark hit, West Point had finally tied the game at 45-45.
Now it was time to hold on to the ball, hoping for a shot at the final second to win it. West Point did an excellent job of ball control, but the final shot bounced short of the net, sending the two teams into overtime.
Much like the fourth quarter, there was little scoring, as New Hope only scored five. The Green Wave put up their eight points, capped by Robertson’s free throws, to win the game.
“We did a much better job at the end of this game, in that end of game situation, holding them to that last shot,” Cox said. “At New Hope, we had the same situation, but we didn’t make the same plays.”
Next is the district championship game. That will be against Oxford, tomorrow night at 7:30, at home.
“We split with Oxford,” Cox said. “We had a chance to go to Oxford and finish first in our district and avoid playing New Hope. We didn’t make the plays we needed to, so we have a chance to get a little revenge. You’re going to have to very good basketball teams, pumped up and motivated.”