OAKWOOD -- West Hall’s boys basketball coach Warren Sellers loves to call senior Shunquez Stephens his “stat sheet stuffer.” After his performance Friday night against Johnson, it’s easy to see why.
Stephens scored 23 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and had four assists and four steals to lead the seventh-ranked Spartans to their fifth straight win.
“He does all the little things,” Sellers said following the 67-52 win over his cross-town rivals. “When we were struggling to make shots, he came up with a big steal and layup that brought us back to life.”
Stephens’ performance couldn’t have happened without the playmaking ability of fellow senior Jarquise Young, who scored a game-high 24 points — 10 of which came in a first quarter that saw West Hall (11-3, 3-0 Region 8B-AAA) jump out to a 19-9 lead.
“Coach told us to come out and not underestimate them,” said Young, who had only three assists but his quickness and ball-handling abilities led to several open shots by his teammates.
No teammate benefited more than Stephens, who has played with Young for so long that it appears as if the two are always on the same page.
“It’s been four years playing together,” Young said. “I know where he is at all times and it helps that he’s so dominant inside and outside.”
Stephens showed both aspects of his offensive game Friday, but it was his defensive effort, along with the inside presence of William Stroup, that allowed West Hall to build a 49-14 lead and hold Johnson to 5-of-23 shooting in the first half. Stroup finished with six points, nine rebounds and three blocks.
“We had two great practices leading up to this game,” Sellers said. “We had a great first half, but we let down our intensity.”
That lack of urgency was evident in the third quarter when the Knights (8-5, 0-1) cut the deficit to 18 points. Led by the outside shooting of Matt Hollis and Rashad Harrison, who combined to hit four 3-pointers in the period, Johnson went on a 7-3 run that gave the home team a bit of momentum. Hollis finished with 17 points, which tied Ty Odem for the team lead.
Odem’s 11 points in the fourth quarter allowed Johnson to get as close as seven points, but the Spartans reeled off a quick 6-2 run to put the game out of reach.
“Any time you can beat your rival is good,” said Sellers, who has now defeated Johnson four straight times. “These kids grew up playing against each other and know each other well.”
West Hall hosts Lanier at 7:30 tonight. Johnson, which has lost four of its last six since starting the year 6-1, visits Monroe Area at 7:30 tonight.
JOHNSON GIRLS 41, WEST HALL 35: Caitlin Sloan had six points, six steals and four rebounds to lead the Lady Knights to a win Friday in Oakwood.
Lyndsey Pethel led all scorers with 10 points for Johnson (7-6, 1-0 Region 8B-AAA).
Amber Johnson scored eight points and pulled down a team-high six rebounds for West Hall (5-11, 0-3).
Johnson visits Monroe Area at 6 tonight, while West Hall hosts Lanier at 6 tonight.