OAKWOOD — With a solid scouting report and more than a week’s rest, the No. 5-ranked West Hall boys were prepared for their toughest subregion game to date against No. 3 Monroe Area.
Led by the all-around presence of post Shunquez Stephens, and the guard play Jarquise Young and Dre Pou, the Spartans coasted to a 61-51 win Tuesday in 8B-AAA play.
Earlier, the Lady Spartans set up the West Hall sweep with a 53-31 victory.
In the boys game, the Spartans (14-3, 5-0 8B-AAA) beat the Hurricanes (13-2, 4-1) in two areas Monroe Area is usually successful in — beating defenders off the dribble and the full-court press.
Young and Pou each scored 13 points using their quickness to get around defenders. Stephens, a 6-foot-6 senior, led West Hall with 18 points, and used his versatility by taking the ball up the court to beat the press.
Young said he and Pou were on the same page.
“Most of the time, if they denied me the ball, Dre would just drive by them and a get a layup,” Young said. “We feed off each other a lot. We always know where the other one is on the floor and we play at the same (fast) pace.”
Stephens admitted his role during the Hurricanes’ press wasn’t the plan.
“I don’t know how I was bringing it down,” he said. “I guess I was beating my man, then getting it to the guards. ... The press wasn’t our big question in practice.”
The Hurricanes opened the game missing their first 15 shots from the field, including four layups, and found themselves trailing 9-0 with a minute left in the first quarter. That’s when Monroe Area went on an 8-0 tear to bring the score to 9-8 after the first quarter.
“I think (The Hurricanes’ 0-for-15 start from the field) gave the kids a false sense of security,” Spartans coach Warren Sellers said. “We had a scouting report and we went over it, but the kids had to put a face with the report. We kept telling them how explosive Monroe can be and (the run) illustrated to them (the Hurricanes) can be explosive, and that got our attention.”
Monroe Area’s scoring spurts came by way of the 3-pointer, and the Hurricanes made nine of them for the game. Five of those came in the first half, and helped them to a 23-22 lead heading into halftime.
But West Hall used the third quarter to slowly build back its lead, going ahead 35-28 with two minutes left in the third before a pair of Monroe Area 3’s pulled the Hurricanes to within 37-33 heading into the fourth quarter.
Less than two minutes into the fourth quarter, Monroe Area’s Stephon Tuitt — a national football recruit who made news just hours before the game by announcing he was changing his verbal commitment from Notre Dame to Georgia Tech — fouled out of the game. Tuitt was held scoreless and to just 12 minutes of play due to foul trouble.
The post play by Stephens and 6-7 William Stroup assisted in Tuitt’s early exit.
“We wanted to take it to him,” Stephens said. “Get in the post, pump fake and go into him and hope the refs give us a good call. And they gave us five good ones.”
With Tuitt out, the Spartans pulled away, leading 56-44 with two minutes left.
With 27 seconds remaining, Stroup added the exclamation point with a two-hand dunk after the Spartans again broke down Monroe Area’s press. Stroup’s basket gave West Hall a 61-49 lead and sent the crowd into a frenzy.
The Hurricanes’ Ken Jackson led all scorers with 21 points.
LADY SPARTANS 53, LADY HURRICANES 31: West Hall’s girls accomplished its second blowout victory in as many games, with Tuesday’s effort following the Lady Spartans’ 53-18 win over Lanier last Saturday.
The Lady Spartans (6-12, 2-3 8B-AAA) were led by Amber Johnson’s 13 points. They attempted a season-high 34 free throws, making 19 of them.
“I liked the way we attacked the pressure and got layups and got to the free throw line,” Lady Spartans coach Lynn Jarrett said. “That’s one thing we’ve been talking about is generating points from the free throw line.
“It’s a good win to get the snow off, and I’m happy with the direction we’re heading in.”
West Hall’s next game is Thursday against Walnut Grove in Oakwood, with the Lady girls tipping off at 6 p.m., the boys at 7:30.