Leach’s 54 lifts Southwest boys to tourney title
For the second straight night, the Southwest Guilford boys were severely tested, and once again they came through.
Terrell Leach scored a career-high 54 points — including 25 in the fourth quarter and overtime — to help lift the Cowboys past Western Guilford 98-97 in overtime Saturday to capture the Sheetz Christmas Holiday Basketball Classic championship title.
“Awesome,” Southwest coach Guy Shavers said of picking up the title win. “I thought the kids were resilient, even though they’re running on fumes — especially Leach. He’s given everything he had. I’m glad that we can, once again, have the fortitude to stick it out.
“I would say (the difference in overtime) was Terrell Leach,” he continued. “He willed us to win. He didn’t want to lose this game, and he did everything he could — and his teammates: Austin Zente came off the bench, got some key steals, grabbed the ball and defended.”
In a back-and-forth battle, the Cowboys (11-0) led by five with 26.2 seconds left in regulation, only to have the Hornets, who lost twice to Southwest earlier in the season, tie it on a 3-pointer by Kaleel Walton with 15 seconds left and a layup by Styles Freeman at the buzzer.
Western led by one with 1:36 left in overtime when Leach raced upcourt following the made basket, through the middle of the key and slammed a huge one-handed dunk over two defenders that highlighted a four-point spurt to gave the Cowboys the lead for good.
The Hornets, down three with 6.6 seconds left, did have a shot to tie but missed the off-balance 3-pointer and instead settled for the quick putback layup as time expired.
“It feels great,” said Leach, whose previous high was 37 against Western Guilford on Dec. 11. “We just knew we had to come out hard, play hard. We didn’t expect overtime, but we had to come even harder in overtime.
“My teammates, like K.J. Langley, Ben Ferguson and D.J. Chamblee, they kept finding me and I was just lucky to knock down shots tonight.”
Leach, following games of 28 and 34 points, was named the tournament MVP while Ben Ferguson and K.J. Langley were named to the all-tournament team for Southwest. Austin Lewis and Carmoni Marks from Western Guilford and Jalen Burnett from Southern Alamance were also named all-tournament.
The Cowboys, who also got 12 points from Antonio Banks, play again Friday at home against Piedmont Triad 4A Conference rival Ragsdale.