WESTFIELD - The Sherman Wildcats boys' basketball team came out running and never slowed down en route to a 62-52 victory over the Westfield Wolverines in the championship game of the Westfield Winter Classic basketball tournament.
After taking a 12-6 lead after the first quarter, the Wildcats overwhelmed Westfield with pressure defense to go on a 10-0 run to open the second quarter, including a stretch in which the Wolverines turned the ball over on nine straight possessions before Westfield's Jessie Rodriguez hit a three to end the drought.
Throughout the second quarter, the Wildcats continued to harass Westfield's offense and used 24 first-half turnovers to build a 29-13 lead going into halftime.
OBSERVER?Photos by Sean Pecuch
Pictured above, at right, is Westfield’s Jessie Rodriguez (4) going up for a shot against Sherman’s Nathan Ottaway (25), during the championship game of the Westfield Winter Classic Saturday night at Westfield Academy and Central School. Sherman won 62-52. At right is Forestville’s Caleb Makuch going up for a shot against the Frewsburg-Falconer Bears’ Mitchell Carter (14), during the consolation game. Frewsburg-Falconer won the game. A score was not reported to the OBSERVER prior to deadline.
"We dug ourself too big of a hole in the first half," Westfield coach Bob North said. "We got into foul trouble and when two of your best ball handlers are sitting on the bench with fouls against Sherman's press, you're in trouble."
"The first half we played very well but just couldn't make a layup," Sherman coach Corey Emory said. "We were up by 16 at the half and it probably should've been more.
"Westfield came out in the second half and did a great job to cut it to that eight to 10 point range," Emory continued. "In the first half we dictated everything that went on but in the second half they started dictating."
The margin grew to 21 points early in the second half before Westfield finally found a way to break the Wildcat's press.
"That's our constant," coach Emory said of the press defense and fast-paced offense Sherman runs. "We have a bunch of guys and decent players so we like to get out and run and press all over the place."
With the score standing at 38-17, Westfield went on an 11-0 run led by Rodriguez running the point to break the press and slash to the basket.
The Wolverines' momentum continued into the fourth quarter where they trimmed the lead to 43-34 with five minutes remaining in the game. But that was as close as they would come as the Wildcats went 6 of 6 at the free-throw line down the stretch to seal the victory.
Jake Card led Sherman with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Ryan Robson added 12 points while Devon Moorhead had 11. Nate Ottaway chipped in nine rebounds in the win.
Westfield's Rodriguez led all scorers with 15 points while adding four assists. Liam Tennie had a double-double in the loss with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Notes: Westfield had 30 total turnover, including 24 in the first half... Both teams were even in rebounding with 35 rebounds each... Westfield's Tanner Dahl was named the Tournament MVP.