Wolverines come back from down 13 in final 3 minutes to top Sherman 47-45 on Senior Night in Westfield
Never Say Die
WESTFIELD — All year long, the Westfield Wolverines have been a special team, especially when they play at home.
Thursday night, on Senior Night in Westfield, the first 29 minutes belonged to the visiting Sherman Wildcats.
The final three minutes, though, belonged to Westfield — and oh how special they were.
The Wolverines erased a 13-point deficit with 3:00 to go, with a 15-0 run over the final three minutes of play to earn a 47-45 victory over Sherman on Thursday to close the CCAA West 2 league schedule with yet another one of many league wins for Westfield’s six seniors.
“This means everything, it’s everything we’ve worked for the entire year,” said Westfield senior Mike Johnson. “Everybody worked hard the entire season. It wasn’t just the seniors, it was everybody.”
A year ago, Westfield hosted Sherman on Senior Night in the final league game of the year with the chance to earn the school’s first undisputed league title in nearly 20 years and a home playoff game. The Wolverines took care of business and earned the league crown.
This year, Westfield already had the league wrapped up, after Panama fell to Frewsburg on Tuesday, but there was still plenty to play for on Thursday. Westfield had the opportunity to send its six seniors out with one final league win, over the same opponent as a year prior, with a win all but certainly earning the Wolverines the same 4-seed and home playoff game once again.
Isn’t it funny how history has a way of repeating itself?
Not even one of the worst shooting performances these Wolverines have ever posted could keep the boys in white and blue from picking up the win on Thursday. Westfield shot 19 % from the field and 52 % from the free-throw line, thanks to tough defense from Sherman all night long.
“We couldn’t throw the ball in the ocean tonight,” said Westfield coach Bob North. “We’re a better shooting team than that.”
The Wildcats held Westfield to 12 points in the first quarter, 10 points in the second quarter, and just five points in the third period. With only three minutes left to play, Sherman led 45-32.
“I told my guys, not a lot of people gave us a shot walking in. But we were the better team for 29 minutes,” said Sherman coach Cory Emory.
But, it was all hometown magic from then on.
“I told them we needed to be consistent on defense. … Defense has to be a constant,” said North. “Both teams tonight were. I never like playing Sherman. Both teams played solid defense.”
After a pair of free-throws from seniors Nate Culbreth and Mike Johnson, Darien Swanson hit a 3-pointer to cut the Sherman lead down to six points. Then, after Culbreth split a pair of free-throws, Dylan Scriven hit a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to just two points.
It looked as if Cole Holland hit the game-tying layup with 24.4 seconds left, but the shot was waved off and he was sent to the line to shoot a pair of free-throws instead, as the call was the foul came before the shot. Holland split the free-throws to leave Westfield down a point with 24.4 left on the clock.
Immediately afterwards, Sherman was overwhelmed in the corner off the inbound pass and the Westfield trap forced another one of many turnovers in the final stretch as the ball-handler traveled. The Wolverines got the ball back with 20.2 seconds to play.
After a pair of Westfield misses, Dylan Scriven put back a layup on the third opportunity of the possession to give Westfield a 46-45 lead with 11.1 seconds left. The Wolverines forced a steal on the ensuing possession, Johnson split a pair of free-throws, and Westfield led by two. The Sherman rushed a three-quarters-court heave off the inbound pass that hit out of bounds with less than a second to go, which signaled the Westfield comeback was complete and sent the home crowd into one of countless eruptions on the night.
“The crowd was amazing,” said North. “Our kids were tired and they needed that. You can’t tell me home court advantage doesn’t help. If that was at Sherman, who knows. But here, what an atmosphere. … If we could get that sort of crowd for the playoffs, that would be awesome.”
The win mathematically sealed that the Wolverines will host a Sectional playoff game, as undisputed league champions, in back-to-back years. Westfield is undefeated at home this season.
“Congratulations to Westfield on another league title and good luck to them in the playoffs,” said Emory. “Hopefully, we have a good run in the playoffs too.”