By Brandon Speck
WEST POINT – Anthony Craddeth had just been on the wrong end of the floor. Then he made the play that made everyone recognize where he was.
Craddeth’s steal and slam in the fourth quarter gave No. 1 West Point a lead it wouldn’t relinquish in a 55-47 win over No. 3 Aberdeen.
“It was our sixth foul. He thought it was our seventh,” West Point coach Brad Cox said.
Cox and Craddeth could say it with a smile after the slam rocked a slammed packed crowd – doors locked shut before the game started. Craddeth tipped an inbounds pass for the dunk and 46-45 lead.
Aberdeen went on a 11-0 run late in the third quarter to take a 41-30 lead on two of Terrell Carouthers’ 12 points. The Bulldogs scored four points in the fourth.
“Late in the fourth quarter, it was just not being able to execute,” first-year Aberdeen coach Cornelius Gilleylen said. “We made a run at the end of the third. They made it at the end of the fourth.”
West Point (15-2) entered the first Journal rankings Friday as Northeast Mississippi’s top team. The Class 5A Green Wave improved to 15-2.
Tre Williams and Demarius Calvert scored 13 each.
Aberdeen (9-5), playing without two starters, got 20 points from Marcus Carouthers.
“In the second half, we came out throwing punches and they’d throw a punch back at us,” said West Point senior center Diquan Ewing.
Calvert’s make gave West Point a 48-45 lead. Aberdeen then missed three from behind the arc.
It got sloppy for both, matching turnovers in the three-point game and Aberdeen missed four straight free throws as Williams’ bucket stretched it to 50-45 with less than 2 minutes to play.
“It was the defensive end,” Cox said, “deflecting passes and getting some steals and some transition.
(G) West Point 56, Aberdeen 54: Aberdeen’s Aundrea Robinson hit a pair of free throws to get within two points with 35 seconds left, but West Point held on. Robinson scored 26. Qiayon Bailey had 26 for West Point.