Wolverines claw out win on Jacket Senior Night
Lee County had three chances to tie the game against Senior Night-guest Westover in the last 2.4 seconds but all went begging and the Wolverines (16-7, 9-3) took a regular-season sweep over the Yellow Jackets (18-5, 8-4) with a 52-50 victory Monday night.
The Yellow Jackets trailed by 10 early in the second half before making a comeback in what was an intense, physical game throughout.
The Jackets got the turnovers they needed to complete the rally in the final seconds, but couldn't convert.
Trevon Watson's streaking interception on a Wolverine inbounds pass, then fast-break lay-in, made it 50-47 Westover with 1:22 left.
The Jacket defense followed that play up by forcing two Wolverine timeouts before a traveling call. The Wolverines answered by forcing a Lee County turnover.
Lee County got an empty Wolverine trip to the line, followed by Keaun Toler making 1 of 2 free throws with 0:38 left.
On Toler's miss, the Wolverines raced down for a lay-up, then the Jackets rushed back and Dewaun McEachin's short jumper in the lane made it 52-50 Wolverines. Seconds later, a Jacket double-team in the backcourt forced a traveling violation and the Jackets had the ball with 0:17 left.
The crazy finish was just getting started. Watson took a tough jumper off the dribble beyond the foul line, got his missed shot tipped to him, and was fouled trying to put another shot up.
With 2.4 seconds left, Watson missed both, the second intentionally, and McEachin scraped for the rebound and drew a foul with 0.5 seconds left.
McEachin missed the first free throw, then on another intentional miss, the Jackets had a lane violation.
Needing to inbound the ball, the Wolverines launched a football pass which went out of bounds, untouched, giving the Jackets yet another last half-second hope.
Hunter Jackson tried to lob a pass to McEachin in the middle of the paint, a play the Jackets often score two or three buckets a game with, but McEachin couldn't tip it toward the hoop.
Lee County missed plenty of chances throughout the game, mainly in the form of going 18 of 41 from the free-throw line. The Wolverines went 6 of 12.
On Senior Night for McEachin, Watson, Jackson, Toler and Hayden Smith, the five seniors were head coach Reggie Peace's starting lineup and the Jackets got out to an excellent start.
The Jackets held Westover without a field goal for the first 4:40 in getting out to a 10-2 lead. Even while the opening period was going well for the home squad, it could've been better as the Jackets made 5 of 12 free throws in the first quarter.
Westover's defensive pressure was the difference through the last three quarters. The Wolverines led 29-20 at halftime, then 42-36 going to the fourth period.
A three-pointer by Watson got Lee County back within a possession, 44-41, with 6:03 left. The defensive struggle continued, for both sides, and Watson made two free throws to cut the Wolverine lead to 46-45 with 3:45 left, but Westover held the lead to the end.
McEachin led the Jackets with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Watson had 15 points, including three three-pointers. Toler had five points and 11 boards.
Westover is the No. 2 seed, having finished a game behind Terry Sanford, going into the Cape Fear Valley Conference Tournament which starts tonight. No. 3 Lee County will host either Douglas Byrd or Gray's Creek, depending on Monday night's result between Douglas Byrd and Gray's Creek, at 7 p.m. tonight.