Titans squash fourth-quarter rally to defeat Phoenix

Titans squash fourth-quarter rally to defeat Phoenix
December 10
00:00 2015
Photo by Craig T. Greenlee
Prep’s Jalen Cranley attacks the Titans defense off the dribble.

West Forsyth imposed its will in the closing minutes to beat Winston-Salem Prep in JV basketball last Friday. The Titans scored quickly off two steals to break open a tight game and earn a 56-50 victory on their home court.

For most of the night, West Forsyth maintained control and led by as many as 12 points. Prep, in the meantime, managed to stay in contention and tied the game, 45-45 on a pair of free throws by Jalen Cranley with 3:21 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Less than a minute later, Mike Montgomery hit a three-pointer from the right wing to put the Phoenix in front, 48-47. From that point on, however, the game belonged to the two Titans players who have same-sounding last names with different spellings.

The decisive sequence started when JaQuan McMillian stole a Prep pass and fed Jaylan McMillon for a lay-up. On the Phoenix’s next possession, McMillian came up with another steal and drove the length of the court and scored while being fouled. He converted the free throw to complete the three-point play. McMillon added the finish-ing touches with a fast-break basket to supply West Forsyth with a 54-48 cushion with 42 seconds left to play.

“Tonight we shared the ball and at times, we played well defensively,” said coach Jeffrey Williams of West Forsyth, whose team opened the season with three straight wins. “We also got the opportunity for some of our players to fur-ther establish what their individual roles are on this team.”

Kelvin Johnson topped the Titans with 18 points and McMillian finished with 14.

Winston-Salem Prep (0-3 at the start of this week) has gotten off to an uncharacteristically sluggish start. Even so, coach Bill Tibbs isn’t about to push the panic button.

For the time being, he’s missing wing player Tyren Hairston who’s sidelined with a dislocated toe. Hairston is expected to return around Dec. 15. The Phoenix did get a boost late last week when K.J. Watson was placed on the JV squad after starting the season with the varsity.

Watson is the only player on the roster who played for Tibbs last season when Winston-Salem Prep won the Lash-Chronicle JV Tournament and finished the year at 20-0. Even though Watson was more of a role player last season, he had some big moments at the Lash-Chronicle tournament MVP a year ago.

Against West Forsyth, Watson played major minutes even though he hadn’t practiced with the JV team. His presence gives the Phoenix a veteran player who’s also a proven scorer. Watson delivered a game-high 21 points against West Forsyth, but severe leg cramps kept him from playing the whole game.

He suffered cramps right after the Phoenix took a momentary lead in the fourth quarter. Watson did return, but was clearly not as effective due to limited mobility because of cramping. Aside f r o m Wa t s o n , Prep got double-figures scoring from Cranley, who contributed 13 points.

“Not having Watson on the floor was huge because he’s such a difference maker,” said Tibbs. “He’s the only player who knows the system, so it’s not a problem for him to step in and produce immediately.

“This year, we’re look-ing for him to provide leadership and be our primary scorer. When Tyren comes back, we’ll be in a good situation because it will be the first time this season that we’ll have our complete team together.”

In recent seasons, it’s been rare for Prep’s junior varsity to lose more than once or twice during a season, much less lose three games in a row. Even in defeat though, Tibbs is confident that his team will pull together and get a winning streak going.

“Yes, we’re 0-3, but I’m happy with the progress we’re making,” he said. “When we got down like we did (against West Forsyth), I liked our effort, which is what helped us to make a comeback. When the game got close, that’s when our lack of experience showed. But the good part is that all the mistakes that were made are things that we can fix. We’re gearing up for the (Lash-Chronicle) tournament.”


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Craig Greenlee

Craig Greenlee

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