By Gene Phelps
SALTILLO – West Point waited all season for this moment.
The Green Wave lost a heartbreaker at the buzzer to New Hope in the elimination round of last year’s Division 2-5A Tournament.
“We’ve had that on our mind not only all week, but all year,” West Point coach Brad Cox said. “Our guys were really focused.”
Behind a masterful 23-point performance from 6-foot-6 guard Juan Davis, the Green Wave jumped out to an early 16-3 lead and cruised to a convincing 79-47 victory Tuesday against host Saltillo in the 2014 edition of the 2-5A semifinals.
West Point (24-5), which qualified for next week’s North state tournament with the win, will play Oxford or New Hope at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the championship game.
Davis, who’s averaging 16 points per game, said last season’s loss to New Hope was all the “motivation” the team needed this season.
“We’ve been focused from the beginning of the year,” he said. “Coach told us we were 0-0 now. We played like they were (Jackson) Callaway.”
Davis scored 14 points in the first half, 12 in the first quarter. He scored on four 3-pointers, a mid-range jumper, a layup and two pubacks. He added his final points on a baseline drive that ended with a dunk.
“How do you guard him?” Cox said. “He’s a tough matchup.”
Setting the tone
West Point built a 46-24 halftime lead.
“I thought we set the tone in the first half defensively,” Cox said. “If we play defense, get a hand up and rebound, it’s hard to slow us down.”
Saltillo coach Craig Lauderdale, who’s team attempted to stop Davis and the charging Green Wave with a 3-2 zone, had no answer.
“I think every kid that came off the bench hit a shot,” he said. “That’s a good basketball team right there.
“We’re a little young. We kept fighting.”
Reggie Miller, a junior, paced the Tigers (15-14) with 17 points while sophomore Jason Smith added 14.
Demarius Calvert scored 11 and Anthony Craddeth 10 for West Point.
(G) Oxford 64, West Point 25: Janesha Johnson scored 28 to lead the Lady Chargers.
(G) New Hope 56, Saltillo 29: The Lady Trojans advanced to Friday’s title game.