Southwest boys edge Central, 57-56
For much of the game, Terrell Leach seemed to hit everything. In the end, he only needed to hit one for the Southwest Guilford boys to beat crosstown rival High Point Central and advance to the tournament championship.
With the score tied, Leach drew a foul on a 3-pointer at the buzzer and drained the first free throw to give the Cowboys a 57-56 win in a thriller Friday in the semifinals of the Sheetz Holiday Christmas Basketball Classic at Southwest Guilford.
“It was a tough-fought battle,” Southwest coach Guy Shavers said. “God knows I’ll take the win, but hats off to Central. … My assistant coach Greg Vlazny always says that adversity doesn’t build character, it reveals it.
“So, I believe it revealed some character for us — that we could step up even when things weren’t going our way. We weren’t playing the way we’re used to playing, but there’s a way that we could find a way to stick together. We found a way to rally, and that’s a very good thing.”
In a back-and-forth, fiercely contested rivalry game — the first of three regular-season meetings between the conference foes this season — the Cowboys led by four with five minutes left, only to have Central take a five-point lead with two minutes left.
With the Bison up one, Southwest’s D.J. Chamblee hit one free throw to tie it 56-56 with 8.1 seconds left. Central then drew a foul with 6.8 seconds left but missed both free throws. Leach then took the ball upcourt, swung to the right wing and fired a contested shot at the buzzer that drew a whistle.
“It felt great. I knew Coach wanted me to take the last shot,” said Leach, who, particularly during the first half, seemed to drain everything from outside. “When I pulled up, I saw the defender right there, and he hit my hand and drew a foul. I just knew I had to knock it down so our team would win.”
Leach finished with 34 points and eight rebounds to lead Southwest (10-0), which will face Western Guilford in the tournament championship tonight at 7:30 in the Jim Coggins Gym. Ben Ferguson also had six points and four rebounds while Chamblee had five points.
Juwan Foggie scored 18 points, including a number of critical baskets in the second half as the Bison (6-5) rallied from five down at halftime. Jamal Thompson and Germaine Pratt each added 12 as Michal Seals was a nuisance on defense, making a host of steals for Central.
“I thought our boys represented High Point Central well. They played as hard as they could, and that’s all we ask of them,” Bison coach Patrick Battle said. “… If we show up, we can play with anybody. Southwest is a tough team. The good thing is we get to see them two more times.
“They know they can play with them — they know they can play with anybody, if they decide to. It is disappointing. They are disappointed. But I’m proud of the effort, and that’s all I am worried about.”
Central will face Southern Alamance in the third-place game at 4:30 in the Annex Gym.