We have spoken about the recent success at Westwind Prep Academy this week, and it looks to have just got better for the program as the post-graduate side of the program has reeled in one of the school's biggest wins in the program's history - defeating a talented group at Phoenix College on Tuesday evening in overtime, 91-89.
The big win for Westwind Prep came on the home floor of the Bears, in front of a nice crowd and in one of the best played games that I have seen in recent memory. Phoenix College, coached by Matt Gordon, will be one of the top teams, once again, this season in the Arizona Community College Athletic Conference (ACCAC), and has won the Region-I, District-I Championship four times since becoming a part of the region.
The speed of the game was fast-paced and the action was fierce for the entire game. Both teams would come out firing, while Phoenix College would take an early lead in the contest. After back-to-back offensive rebounds and put-backs by 6-foot-6 freshman forward Marquez Jackson, Phoenix College would take a 20-15 lead with 11:45 remaining in the first half. A third consecutive basket inside by Jackson would put Phoenix ahead 22-17.
Phoenix would get some breathing room from Westwind after two-straight three-pointers by 5-foot-10 sophomore guard Isaiah Strong and 5-foot-10 freshman guard Desmond Howard - making the score 30-22, Phoenix.
But Westwind Prep, a team comprised of all post-graduate prospects, would keep pace with Phoenix - matching almost basket for basket with the junior college group. Consecutive layups by 6-foot-2 prep guard Kevin Davis, and a three-pointer from the wing by 6-foot-4 prep guard McKayle Harnell would pull Westwind back to within 3 points - 32-29.
After a timeout by Phoenix to slow Westwind down, Westwind would continue their momentum behind the strong guard play of 6-foot-2 prep point guard Everett Clemons. Clemons would thrash his way through the lane en route to the basket, scoring on three consecutive drives. After a steal and a strong, contested layup by 6-foot prep guard Marcus Glover, Westwind would take their first lead of the game, 43-38 with 13 seconds remaining in the half.
But Phoenix would inbound the basketball, and Isaiah Strong would let go on a long-range three-pointer at the halftime buzzer. As the ball swished through the net and Strong barked at the crowd, Westwind would go into the half with the 43-41 halftime lead.
Both teams would fight hard in the game's second half, with Phoenix taking back the game's lead and holding on to it for much of the second half. The Phoenix lead would jump out to 8 points, after a transition layup by 5-foot-10 freshman guard Alec Savage.
But, once again, Westwind would storm right back. With 4:55 left to play in the game, the momentum would shift once again, and in a big way as the highlight of the game and of the 2012-2013 season would take place. Westwind's 6-foot-7, 220-pound prep forward KJ Hoffman would steal the basketball, travel the length of the floor and dunk the basketball with authority over the outstretched hands of a Phoenix College defender. The dunk would electrify the crowd and the Westwind team in a major way.
As a resultof the game's heightened intensity, Westwind teammate Kevin Davis would then steal the basketball on the very next play, and also travel the length of the floor for a layup after being fouled on the play. Davis would miss the free throw, but Westwind's Everett Clemons would rebound the miss, and two more of his own missed shot attempts - finishing the third attempt on the put-back in fine fashion and giving Westwind the game's lead, 66-65.
Westwind Prep head coach Gabe Stevens would then rely on the play of Clemons for the remainder of the game, as the tough, hardnosed guard would put his team on his back down the stretch. After another tough, offensive rebound and put-back by Clemons inside before the end of regulation, Clemons would get the basketball in his hands one more time with 9.7 seconds left to play with Phoenix College in the lead, 75-73. Westwind would clear the floor for Clemons, as the physical guard would cruise past several Phoenix defenders and finish a strong, driving layup to tie the score just before the buzzer, 75-75.
After a failed alley-oop dunk attempt by Marquez Jackson on a nicely designed inbounds play by the Phoenix College coaching staff, the game would go into overtime.
Immediately in overtime, it looked as if Phoenix would finally put it all together over the younger Westwind group, as Isaiah Strong would convert a three-pointer and Jackson would finish a layup in transition, but the stubborn group from Westwind would come right back again. Another basket by Clemons, a three-point play by 6-foot-2 prep guard Austin Rutherford, a driving layup by Marcus Glover and a free throw (1-2) from 6-foot-6 prep forward Charles Benson and Westwind would jump out to a 89-84 lead.
But not a comfortable lead by any means, as Phoenix would receive a 25-foot three-point basket from 6-foot-3 freshman guard Jal Rial. After a steal on the inbounds by Phoenix, 6-foot-2 freshman guard Cameron Isreal would get fouled and head to the free-throw line. Isreal would calmly sink both free throws - tieing the game once again, at 89 all.
With the game looking like it was headed into a second consecutive overtime, Westwind's Austin Rutherford would receive the inbounds pass, travel the length of the floor and make an alley-oop pass to Kevin Davis for the game winning layup at the buzzer. Davis would catch the basketball and lay it in as the buzzer sounded - giving Westwind the hard-fought road win, 91-89.
The Westwind team would rush the floor in extreme excitement as they would pull off a major upset victory for their program.
Everett Clemons would lead Westwind with a game-high 23 points. Kevin Davis would finish with 16 points and 6-foot-3 prep guard Larry Lewis would finish with 15 points in the win. Phoenix was led by Isaiah Strong with 16 points, while three players - 6-foot-4 sophomore Chris Mason, Marquez Jackson and 6-foot-2 sophomore guard Terrin Elam would each finish with 13 points in the loss.
This game, while very early in the season, was nothing more than an exciting game to watch between two really good teams. The season is very early. Phoenix College still will be one of the top teams in the ACCAC this season as Matt Gordon and his experienced staff will have this team ready to go next time out. For Westwind Prep, the program continues to do big things - providing some great opportunities for it's players.