“We are just honored to keep playing basketball,” TC Central head coach Damien Dorsey said. “The guys struggled and I am glad that we had this type of games because we know that we can win a grind out game. We were fortunate to play good defense in the second half, so I am blessed and honored to coaches these guys.”
In the first quarter, the Fighting Tigers jumped out to a 7-2 lead. Tervarus Garrett scored on a put back to make it 2-0. Crystyle Stockdale scored six straight points to increase their lead to 7-2.
Westminster responded with a 12-8 run to end the quarter. Michael Stanford scored five points during the run including a three point play to cut the lead to 8-5. Jacob Welch nailed a pair from behind the arc in the first quarter, including a 3-pointer to give the Knights a 12-8 lead going to the second quarter.
Welch continued to get open for 3-pointers in the second quarter, which fired up the Westminster faithful as they outnumbered the TC Central fans. Welch opened the quarter with a 3-pointer to increase their lead to 15-9.
Ze’Kyle Stockdale ended a close to five minute field goal drought for the Fighting Tigers with a jumper to cut the lead to 15-11. Welch hit his fourth 3-pointer of the game with 5:25 left in the half to give Westminster a 20-13 lead.
TC Central responded with a 6-1run to tie the game at 21-21. Dewayne Wallace got the run started with a layup off a Westminster turnover to cut the lead to 21-15. Stockdale hit back to back baskets for TC Central. His midrange jumper cut the lead down to 21-19 with 3:43 remaining in the half. Lamar Suttle’s put back tied the game at 21-21 with 3:17 left in the half.
The Knights responded with a 5-0 run to take a 26-21 lead, but TC Central was able to battle back and gain momentum going into the locker room. Stockdale scored on a layup to cut the lead to 26-23. Tervarus Garrett nailed a 3-pointer to tie the game at 26-26 with a minute remaining. Stockdale hit a floater before the buzzer sounded to end the first half to give TC Central 28-27 lead.
TC Central changed their defense in the second half, which disrupted Westminster’s shooters and their offense. Welch nailed his fifth 3-pointer on the game to open the third quarter, which gave the Knights a 30-27 lead, but more importantly that their last basket of the quarter.
Suttle’s offensive rebound and put back gave TC Central a 31-30 lead with 6:08 left in the half. Stockdale then hit a jumper from above the free throw line to increase their lead to 33-30.
Tervarus Garrett scored five of his 14 points in the third quarter. His 3-pointer from 25 feet out to increased their lead to 38-30 going to the fourth quarter.
“We ended changing defenses and going to a 1-3-1 extended to three quarters of the court and that really helped us out the most,” Dorsey said. “We were able to slow them down and really shut down their offense.”
Stockdale opened the quarter with a layup to make it 40-30. Wallace’s layup in transition increased the Fighting Tigers lead to 12 points, 42-30 with 7:02 left in the game. Westminster ended their 10 minute scoreless drought on a Luke Tauliatas put back to make it 42-32. Cededrick Garrett’s three point play late in the game increased their lead to 48-36 with 47 seconds left in the game.
Stockdale led the Fighting Tigers with 19 points and earned MVP honors for the Fighting Tigers.
“He made big shot and that is attributed to everybody trying to find him and everybody hustling on the defensive side,” Dorsey said. “That’s what he was able to get those open shots.”
The Fighting Tigers look to get redemption when they host Loachapoka in the Class 1A Sub-Regional round on Friday at 7 p.m. Last season, the Indians overcame a double digit deficit to defeat TC Central 58-53.
“We are back here on Friday to face Loachapoka,” Dorsey said. “We really had them last year. Their coach did a great job of pressing us and we didn’t handle the pressure well and they ended winning on our court. It is kind of the same scenario, it is like déjà vu. How many times do you get to face the same team twice with a chance to go to the playoffs? We are excited and we are going to be prepared.”