Whale Branch boys and girls claim region basketball titles

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High School Basketball

Whale Branch boys and girls claim region basketball titles

Published Thursday, February 7, 2013   |  710 Words  |  

Cheyenne Rogers remembers little from a late timeout Wednesday, except the plea for the Whale Branch Early College High School girls basketball players to keep their heads during the final minute.

The Warriors had plenty of chances to disengage while playing host to Denmark-Olar for the Region 5-A championship.

A 10-point lead disappeared. Standout guard Kemoni Jenkins, the team's best ball-handler, sat for much of the game with foul trouble. Senior post player S'Nitra Mack was frustrated under the basket.

A season-long goal was crumbling.

But the Warriors kept their heads and used every source, including Rogers' two big baskets and a drawn charge, to defeat Denmark-Olar, 45-42, and claim the school's first region title in basketball.

"We just played as a team," Rogers said.

On senior night, the sophomore Rogers provided a lift. A standout on the junior varsity team last season, Rogers thought she would play wing for varsity coach Wilbert Bryant this season.

Bryant coaxed her into the post, where she has helped provide depth to a position that includes Jonae Riley and Mack.

"She was hesitant about playing the post, but she has done a good job for us," Bryant said.

One team, one goal, has been the Warriors mantra this season. And on a team with a couple of stars, every contribution was needed Wednesday. Riley scored eight points, grabbed 12 rebounds and blocked three shots. Guard Kenyada Moultrie was the only Warrior in double digits, with 12 points.

Rogers' two baskets were her only points of the game, but the first bucket, off a slick pass from Jenkins, tied the game. Her second gave the Warriors the lead with 34 seconds remaining.

And then she stood her ground and crumpled to the floor on the offensive foul when Denmark-Olar had a chance to tie.

"We knew we were behind," Rogers said. "We had to do something."

The Warriors overcame five scoreless minutes during the fourth quarter.

Region champions. The next goal starts Feb. 11. The Warriors will host Lincoln, the No. 4 seed from Region 6, opening the Class 1-A playoffs as a top seed for the first time.

Whale Branch girls 45, Denmark-Olar, 42

Denmark-Olar -- Ta'Asia Wright 19, Jenayah Moore 15, Jessica Davis 4, Daneisha Youmans 3.

Whale Branch (18-3, 8-0 Region 5-A) -- Kenyada Moultrie 12, Kemoni Jenkins 8, S'Nitra Mack 8, Jonae Riley 8, Sharrin Reed 5, Cheyenne Rogers 4.

Whale Branch boys 82, Denmark-Olar 44

Whale Branch prepared for a long week, after losing on the road Monday at Allendale-Fairfax.

The loss meant the Warriors and Tigers likely would meet in a tiebreaker Friday to determine the region champion -- if both won Wednesday.

Whale Branch handled its chore, coming out fired up on senior night and rolling Denmark-Olar. After the game, after the Warriors had cleared out of their postgame meeting, athletics director Carlos Cave delivered coach Linc Lyles good news. Estill had beaten Allendale-Fairfax.

Whale Branch won Region 5-A outright, the first region title for the boys basketball program, in the school's third year. Lyles said the Warriors responded well to the loss Monday, the team's only region setback.

"Guys were a little down, but they were angry," Lyles said of his Tuesday practice. "Sometimes angry is good."

Lyles subbed frequently Wednesday and all of his seniors received good minutes. Seniors Dee Delaney and Charles Jiles combined for 28 points to lead a balanced effort.

The Warriors open the Class 1-A playoffs at home Tuesday against the No. 4 seed from Region 6.

Denmark-Olar -- Kenneth Butler 16, Deshawn Moody 10, William Smith 7, Robert Coleman 5, Darius Spellman 2, Travante James 2, Lavonte Deloach 2.

Whale Branch (20-3, 9-1 Region 5-A) -- Dee Delaney 15, Charles Jiles 13, Justin Rhode 12, Simeon Middleton 11, Michael Middleton 9, Jay Abney 8, Terrell Hazel 7, Denzel Daniel 4, NyQuan Smith 2, Devonta Glover 1.