Warriors season ends, fall to West Greene 66-47

Published 4:00 pm Wednesday, February 14, 2024

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By Ron Marvel

Star Correspondent

No one ever said the road to progress wouldn’t have a few potholes. The Warriors may have stumbled in the TSSAA Playoffs Tuesday night, but that shouldn’t detract from a season that saw the Warriors improve on last season’s record by eight wins and be highly competitive in many other games.

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The first round of the 2024 TSSAA Playoffs for the Warriors couldn’t have started off better as they jumped out to an early 10-0 lead, due in part to the play of TJ Good and AJ Campbell, who hit on 3-pointers. But just as the Warriors faithful started to feel good, the Buffs would go on a 12-3 run to close the Warriors’ lead to one point at 13-12. West Greene and Happy Valley would exchange baskets as Good would muscle up a shot to give the Warriors the 15-14 lead at the buzzer to close out the first period.

Happy Valley and West Greene would both start the second period cold as there would be just 5:41 left in the second period before both teams would exchange baskets. Dylan Furr would hit a bucket to tie things up at 21 all with just 2:31 left. As the first half closed, the game would turn in a negative way for the Warriors as the Buffaloes would hit four 3-pointers in a row to post a 33-21 lead; two of those 3-pointers bounced off the rim but still somehow rattled home. To add insult to injury after the first half ended, the Warriors picked up a technical foul that would push the West Greene lead to 14. “We knew they were good shooters coming in, we held them down well the first period but when they hit those shots at the end of the first half our demeanor changed and it affected our mindset and the way we communicated with each other,” Warriors Head Coach Shane Williams shared.

In the second half, the Warriors would try to scratch their way back, closing the lead down to single digits twice, but each time the Warriors threatened to make a game of it, the Buffaloes would hit a big shot to take the steam out of their rally. Darrian Jackson would hit on a short one-handed floater picking up a foul in the process; this would allow the Warriors to close the game to 40-32 with four minutes left in the 3rd period, unfortunately, it would be as close as the Warriors would get the rest of the game. The Buffaloes wisely went to the keep-away game for a good part of the final period and though the effort was there in the final period, for stretches the Warriors simply couldn’t get a basket to fall. The Buffaloes would hit 11 3-pointers in the contest to help stifle any Warriors rally. Good would finish with 11 points and Jackson and Furr finished with 9 and 8 points respectively.

Post-game, second-year Warriors Coach Williams reflected on the team’s season “We are trending in the right direction but we have a lot of work left to do, I have a lot of guys in here who have just not done much winning. We have to learn how to win and that starts in our preparation, we have to do everything better, practice better, scout better, everything better. Our basketball IQ has to get higher; we hustle hard we just have to put better thought processes with it,” Williams shared.

Coach Williams also added that he was grateful for his three seniors “After we lost six seniors last year Dakota Grindstaff was left behind to carry the leadership role with us being a young team in some ways it was tough on him, but he did a great job with it. Joey Sowards was a good, quiet leader when we lost him (injury) we lost depth and toughness; Zach Stansell was just a kid that cared, if I just get every kid to act like Zach, he cared about everyone and everything that’s where our program has to go”.