Brandon Porter of Willsboro, in red, goes up for a shot against Anderson Gay of Westport during the opening round of the Section VII/Class D playoffs Feb. 20.
While entering the 2013 Section VII/Class D playoffs as a ninth seed, the Willsboro Warriors were not going to give away their title as defending champions without a fight.
In the opening round against Westport Feb. 20, the Warriors fell behind early but clawed their way back to within two points late in the fourth quarter before the combination of Anderson and Jonathan Gay sealed a 43-36 Eagles victory.
“We played really good team defense, as they did,” Eagles head coach Michael “Ike” Tyler said after the game. “They made some big shots and they were not going to go away.”
“They played hard tonight,” Willsboro Head Coach Jim Spring said. “The kids worked hard, worked hard and worked even harder.”
The Eagles held a 9-4 lead after the first quarter which they extended to 13-4 early in the second quarter. The Warriors responded, outscoring Westport 10-4 for the rest of the first half, cutting the lead to 17-14 at halftime.
Trailing by seven after three quarters, the Warriors came out firing in the fourth, cutting the Westport lead to just two quickly.
With Westport leading 36-34 with two minutes remaining in the game, Anderson Gay connected on a long three-pointer and then hit the front end of a one-and-one to give the Eagles a 40-34 lead.
“They were playing good defense inside and I was able to get off a good shot,” he said. “When I got to the free throw line on the next play, coach told me to use my knees. It’s something that we worked on in practice all the time.”
Anderson’s twin brother, Jonathan, sealed the game connecting on three-of-four free throws in the final minute.
“I was relaxed and I didn’t look at the clock,” Jonathan said. “I took my time like I do in practice.”
“Anderson picked it up in the second half, and Jonathan played great against Indian Lake/Long Lake and continued that tonight,” Tyler said.
Anderson Gay finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds, while Jonathan scored seven points. The Eagles were led by Ryan Davis, who scored 15 points to go with 13 rebounds.
“Rebounding was something that we stressed,” said Davis about the Eagles’ 36-23 edge on the boards, including a 14-4 advantage on the offensive glass.
“We have had a hard time with boxing out all year but we had been getting better,” Spring said.
Sam Napper added five points for the Eagles, while RJ King scored two. Thomas Mero led the team with five assists and two steals.
For the Warriors, who finish their season at 7-12, Nick Arnold returned after missing almost a month with a leg injury to score 10 points to go with three assists, two steals and five blocked shots.
“He practiced for us the day before the game and that was the first time he had been on the court since he got hurt,” Spring said. “It was nice to have his leadership back.”
Brandon Porter scored 15 points and grabbed six rebounds for the Warriors, while Jarrid McVicker and Zach Pierson each scored four points and Seth Swires added three points to go with 10 rebounds and three assists.
The Eagles (11-7) will next play Schroon Lake (18-0), the fourth ranked team in the state who swept Westport in the regular season.
The Chazy Eagles used a 21-5 third quarter to open up a large lead against the Keene Beavers in the opening round of the Class D playoffs Feb. 20, cruising to a 59-30 win.
Colton Venner led the Beavers with 10 points, followed by Austin Brown with nine, Brandon Dumas with 6, Gabe Warner with three and Maxx Sturgess with two.
Keene finished the season, its first in three years as a varsity program, with a 2-16 record.