It only takes a second for a team to win or lose a game. This statement always seems to hold true especially during the postseason of basketball, a sport known for exciting finishes.
The West Point Green Wave entered into the district 2 5-A tournament after a 14-11 regular season and going 3-3 within region play. The five-hundred district record landed the Wave as the third-seed in the region tournament at New Hope and set a date with Lowndes County foe, the New Hope Trojans.
During the regular season, West Point and the Trojans met on two occasions and split the spoils of both contests. The first meeting, played at West Point, saw the Wave rally back into the game to defeat New Hope 67-63. In the second meeting, the Trojans prevailed at home defeating West Point 64-54.
Having played each other twice, there was nothing to hide Tuesday night. West Point and New Hope knew exactly what to expect from each other. Yet it seemed all new when the game tipped-off after nine o’clock at night.
The Green Wave’s Juan Davis caught fire right out of the gate; knocking down all three of his three point attempts to help West Point start the game on an 11-0 run. The quick start seemed to unsettle the home-town Trojans as the Wave continued to silence the New Hope faithful dominating the up-tempo contest. Junior guard Davis capped off his first quarter with 11 points, helping the Wave take a 22-14 lead into the second period.
West Point outplayed the Trojans in every aspect of the game during the second quarter. With 3:35 remaining in the first half, the Wave had pulled away to a 34-19 lead. The half closed out evenly as New Hope and West Point exchanged baskets to finish with the Wave still in driver seat at the break 42-27.
“We wanted to make sure out of halftime we got back out and took a lot of shots to warm up,” said Coach Cox about halftime in the West Point locker room, “but before we went out I told them we needed to win the second half.”
In a tight second half, West Point and the Trojans looked very evenly matched as the Trojans began to inch back into contingency. Trailing by fifteen points at halftime, New Hope scrapped back into the game time and time again in the third period. In the closing ten seconds of the quarter, the Trojans scored a bucket and a time expiring three-pointer, electrifying the home crowd. Entering into the final period of play, West Point’s gap had closed to 60-50.
After the last five points of the fourth quarter, the momentum of the game had shifted in favor of New Hope. The pressure also was turned up on the Wave as a once silent Trojan gym turned into a loud and hostile environment. The Wave hurt themselves during the fourth period going 5 of 12 from the free throw line, allowing for New Hope to close the lead to 70-65 with 2:18 left in the game. The Trojans seemed to have the advantage, finally tying the game at 70 with only 38 seconds remaining in the semi-final, the first time since the beginning of the game. Tre Williams gave West Point a 72-70 lead from the charity stripe with 19 seconds left. Out of a timeout, the Trojans worked the ball around the perimeter soon to find an open shooter in the corner; he knocked down the three-pointer with only 4 seconds remaining. New Hope took a 73-72 lead, their first of the whole contest. The Wave had one more chance to win the game and advance to the Friday final, but Williams’ shot clanged off the back of the iron giving New Hope the 73-72 victory.
“We went cold, we missed a lot of free throws and turned the ball over in the fourth quarter,” commented Cox about the loss against New Hope, “it just seemed like the pressure of the moment just got to us.”
The loss on Tuesday has eliminated the Wave from the postseason and ended their 2012-2013 season. West Point finished the season 14-12 with an outstanding 11-1 record at home. After such a heart crushing loss, the Wave will have a chip on their shoulder heading into the offseason. “It hurts, anytime you lose on buzzer beater, it hurts; we didn’t tons experience and hopefully we picked up some more this season,” said Cox in a review of the season as a whole, “We can use this loss as a motivation to have a good summer and have a better season this coming November.”