Bishop boys, Westwood girls are basketball champs

Coach Ash'lea Moore, front right, and assistant coach Franklin Moore, back left, with the Howard Bishop Middle School boys basketball team after winning the Alachua County Middle School Basketball Championship.

CLEVELAND TINKER/Special to the Guardian
Published: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 at 1:24 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 at 1:24 p.m.

The undefeated Westwood Middle School girls basketball team ended the two-year hold the Howard Bishop Middle School girls had on the Alachua County middle school girls basketball championship, while the Bishop boys were repeats as champions by defeating Westwood in the championship game for the second year in a row.

In the championship games played last Wednesday in the Bud Seymour Gymnasium at Buchholz High School, the Westwood girls (12-0) jumped out to an early lead enroute to a 30-17 victory. The boys game was close throughout until midway through the fourth quarter when Bishop’s Diamond Smith threw down a slam dunk that brought the Bishop bench and fans to their feet cheering loudly. The dunk tied the game at 31 and Bishop ended the game on a 13-2 run for a 42-33 victory.

Girls game

The girls game began with Westwood opening up an 8-0 lead fueled by great defensive pressure that led to numerous turnovers by Bishop.

Bishop (8-3) scored its first points of the game when Diasia Medley made a basket to make the score 8-2. Madison Johnson then scored her second basket of the game for the Whirlwinds to make the score 10-2, before Leaundranae “LeLe” Young scored to make the score 12-2 at the end of the first quarter.

Westwood held Bishop to only two points in the second quarter as well and led 20-4 at halftime. The Whirlwinds cruised through the second half and celebrated with each other and fans after the game. The Whirlwinds, like the Bishop boys, were awarded certificates and two trophies by Dan Boyd, superintendent of Alachua County schools. The champions keep one trophy and will have to defend the other trophy next year. Boyd also gave certificates and a runners-up trophy to Bishop girls and Westwood boys.

Matthew Floyd, first-year coach of the Westwood girls, said his team worked extremely hard all season to put themselves in position to be champions.

“I love coaching these girls, and what I like about them is every day they came and gave 110 percent – every single day,” said Floyd, who teaches world history at Westwood. “They were focused most of the season and they had a few bad times, but they overcame them.”

Boys game

The Westwood boys (11-1) began their game just like the Westwood girls by jumping out to an early lead. They led 9-2 with 2:05 left in the first quarter before the Hawks scored five unanswered points to make the score 9-7 with 22 seconds left in the quarter. Westwood’s Will Bungert scored on a putback as time expired in the quarter to make the score 11-7.

The Hawks (10-2) tied the score at 11 early in the second quarter after a freethrow by Joseph McCray and a drive to the basket by Devin Lawrence. Bungert scored on another putback to give Westwood the lead, 13-11, before Bishop got its first lead of the game after Lawrence sank a three-pointer to make the score 14-13. However, the Whirlwinds scored the final three points of the half and led 16-14 at halftime.

Neither team led by more than three points the rest of the game and it looked like the game was going down to the last shot, just like last year’s championship game. In last year’s game, Bishop won when former coach Mike Williams drew up and the team executed an alley-oop play for the victory as time expired. The alley-oop is when a player throws the ball near the basket for another player to jump, catch and put the ball in the basket, all in one motion.

It didn’t take a last-second shot this year because the dunk by Smith seemed to slam a ton of energy into the Hawks, who then began to smother the Whirlwinds with defensive pressure and outstanding rebounding the last four minutes of the game.

Ash’lea Moore, first-year coach of the Hawks, said the team won the game because although they didn’t start the game executing their game plan, they did so once they settled down. Moore, who coached the P.K. Yonge girls team to the state championship game in 2009, said she had a lot of fun coaching the Bishop boys this year.

“Coaching this team has been out-of-control fun,” said Moore, who coached the Eastside Lady Rams from 2010-2012. “Collectively, I’ve had more fun coaching these kids than any other kids I’ve been around. The keys for winning this game were doing what we’ve done all season long and not deviating from the plan.”

Her game plan is simple.

“Play defense with your feet and box out when rebounding,” Moore said.

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