Patriots clinch state berth


Those who waited more than 10 minutes to shake Marvin Fields' hand after this one had to practically holler their congratulatory words into his ear.


The Westside boys basketball coach was wiping the sweat from his forehead outside of his locker room, with more than a dozen players screaming and chanting after their 56-53 victory over Josey on Thursday night in by far the most exciting game of the Region 3-AAAA Tournament.

"You looked like a teenager out there," someone told Fields, describing the coach's delirious reaction after the final buzzer.

Brandon Moore finessed in the go-ahead basket with 30 seconds left -- those were his only points -- and Josh Davis made two key defensive plays in the final 12 seconds to clinch a state playoff berth for the fifth-seeded Patriots. They prevailed following a hold-your-breath, gnaw-your-fingernails final quarter that saw four lead changes and five ties. Westside plays defending champion and region unbeaten Richmond Academy tonight at 8:30 in a semifinal.

"I feel like I'm going to Disneyland or something," said Allen Elmore, who scored 10 points and hit a key 3-pointer with 55 seconds left.

Said Fields: "It was just like we expected, but I'm glad we came out on top."

Frank Booker and Ivory Drummer led Westside with 12 points each.

Westside held double-digits leads in each of the first two quarters, trailed for only 1:38 yet still looked like it could wilt in the final quarter. Fourth-seeded Josey grabbed its first lead with 2:55 left and tied the game as late as 35 seconds on a free throw from Conrad Wilburn.

Westside grabbed the rebound off the second miss, and Moore beat everyone down the court to convert a 6-foot floater. The Patriots still needed two plays from Davis: a steal with 12 seconds left and a blocked shot with less than 6 seconds remaining. The most important was the steal.

Josey, down by two, fed the ball to its top scorer and best player off the dribble, long-armed junior Darnell Brown (13 points). Davis was disappointed he even let Brown get the ball .

"I knew then I had to get the ball back," he said.

Josey entered the tournament on a five-game losing streak, including an eight-point loss to Westside on the final day of the regular season. A week later, those results remained unchanged.

The Patriots have given Richmond Academy its two closest region games of the season: a one-point overtime loss and a four-point defeat just 12 days ago.

Fields, though, was talking about the state tournament after this one.

"It's never easy to get there, but once you do anything can happen," he said.