Westwood rallies vs White Knoll, falls to Hammond

RED BANK – In a game full of twists and turns, the Westwood Boys were happy to come off the White Knoll court with a win.

In a game full of rebounds, foul shots, and missed opportunities for both teams, the Redhawks rallied in the final five minutes of the game to edge the Timberwolves 56-53.

Kendall Wormack (33) provides stout defense at the bucket. | Ross Burton

“I’m proud of our guys. They did a fantastic job of turning them over in the fourth quarter and then being able to convert on that,” Westwood head coach Jeff DiBattisto said. “We really struggled to score.”

Russell Jones Jr. led the way with 17 points, including four clutch foul shots in the last 23 seconds. Zachary Dunlap had 14.

After the Redhawks rallied in the first half to take a 26-22 lead at intermission, they watched that lead melt away in the third quarter.

Westwood stayed a few points ahead, but the Timberwolves used a 12-0 scoring run to turn the tide from 33-28 Westwood to 40-33 Timberwolves at the 2:25 mark of the third.

“Our defense needed to dictate our offense at that point,” DiBattisto said.

The Redhawks found themselves behind 45-37 one minute into the fourth when a quick Dunlap basket in the paint sparked a 13-4 run.

“We had a ton of time left,” DiBattisto said. “Let’s just get it one step at a time.”

Beginning at the 5:14 mark of the fourth, the Westwood defense forced six straight turnovers and shut out the Timberwolves on offense—White Knoll’s only four points over four minutes came in the form of Tavis Watson foul shots.

Wormack’s bucket with 1:07 left gave the Redhawks the lead for good, a 52-51 advantage. They stayed ahead when Jones forced White Knoll defenders to foul him, and he took the line and sank four straight free throws in the final 23 seconds to clinch the win.

“I’m really proud of them,” DiBattisto said. “At that point, they could’ve folded the tent. They’re down eight in the fourth quarter, and they could’ve given up, but they didn’t. I’m really proud of them.”

White Knoll got off to a solid start, going on a 13-4 run in the first quarter to build an 18-9 lead going into the second quarter.

The Redhawks (6-2) figured out how to stop the Timberwolves in the second.

“We decided to switch up defensively, get more aggressive over the ball and go full court,” DiBattisto said. “That really changed things.”

Dunlap got things started with two steals, a basket and a foul shot to cut the lead to 18-12. A Kendall Wormack foul shot and a 3-pointer from Jones got Westwood back into the game with six minutes to go in the first half.

White Knoll (0-7) kept ahead of the Redhawks until the 1:11 mark of the second quarter, when Dunlap hit a 3 to give Westwood a 24-22 lead. Jones added two foul shots near the buzzer and the Timberwolves took a 26-22 lead into the locker room.

Sam Stroman helped dominate the glass in the first half, with 10 of Westwood’s 20 rebounds in the first two quarters.

Westwood had to rally again in the second half to beat the Timberwolves, DiBattisto said he wasn’t surprised.

“The thing about them is, they’re scrappy,” DiBattisto said of White Knoll. “They did a much better job in the second half of dictating the tempo. We recovered in the first half and got what we wanted in the second quarter, but we did a poor job of dictating how we wanted to go defensively. But that’s a good win on the road. Any win is a good win on the road.”

Then the Redhawks traveled to Charlotte to face Hammond School at Spectrum Center, home of the Charlotte Hornets, on Monday. Westwood and the Hammond Skyhawks did battle before the Charlotte Hornets and New York Knicks took the court later in the evening. Westwood fell 48-46 in the hard fought battle.

White Knoll- 56, Westwood- 53

WHS  – 9 – 17 – 11 – 19 – 56

WKHS  – 18 – 4 – 20 – 11 – 53

WHS: Russell Jones Jr. 18, Zachary Dunlap 14, Huff 9, Wormack 7, Stroman 4, Green 2, Lewis2.

WKHS: Tavis Watson 17, Donnye Culbreth 11, Clary 6, Branham 6, Cox 5, Jennings 5, Sutton 3.