WAP wins at buzzer

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 30, 2006

For the seniors on the West Alabama Prep boys basketball team, Thursday night’s contest against Southern Academy would be their final game on their court. They couldn’t have scripted a better way to go out.

Senior center Daniel Logan chased down a loose ball and hit a six-foot jumper with 2 seconds remaining to win a thriller over the visiting Cougars, 38-36. Logan’s shot set off a

raucous on-court celebration involving the WAP team, cheerleaders, parents, and fans.

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“This is the perfect ending to our season,” said WAP head coach Jay Reynolds. “They handled the pressure very well tonight. This is the first game where I felt like we almost put together four good quarters. I’m very proud of them.”

Logan’s shot capped a wild second half that featured five ties and five lead changes. The Titans took an 18-12 lead into halftime, and led 22-16 with 5:25 remaining in the third quarter when the Cougars went on a 9-1 run. A Josh Heuron basket finished the spurt and gave Southern its first second-half lead, 25-23.

But Steven Cockreham hit a pair of free throws with 14 seconds left in the quarter to send the game into the final period tied at 25. A Cockreham three gave the Titans a five-point lead less than two minutes into the quarter, but the Cougars answered right back and tied the game at 32 on a Matt Rutherford basket with only 2:30 to play.

After Jarrod Weaver had hit one of two free throws, Southern re-took the lead at 34-33 on a Jason Segura jumper with 1:30 remaining. WAP’s Gene Samuels responded, first by drawing a foul on a drive to the basket and hitting one free throw to tie the game. The senior then intercepted an errant Southern pass and scored, giving the Titans the lead again at 36-34 with 1:03 to play.

The Cougars still weren’t done. After a series of shots and offensive rebounds Rutherford found himself with the ball under the basket and scored to tie the game with less than 20 seconds remaining.

Reynolds elected not to call a timeout and the Titans put the ball in Samuels’ hands for the last shot. His jumper missed and caromed along the left baseline, where Logan snared it. The senior spun to his left and shot over a Southern defender. The ball rattled home and Southern was unable to get a shot off before the buzzer.

“If I had o pick somebody to hit a game-winning shot, it would be Daniel Logan, Reynolds said afterwards. “He comes to every practice, he plays harder than anyone on the floor, he’s a senior. The reason he got the shot is because he did his job. He blocked out, got the ball, and put it in the hole.”

Despite the loss, Southern head coach Eric Chandler was happy with his team’s second-half resolve as they played without their leading scorer, Wallace Drury, who missed the game with an injury.

“I’m proud of the way they played,” he said. “They kept fighting, and they played hard. It’s a tough way to lose. When we got the lead, I thought the game would go into overtime, or we’d win it. But they played a good game and I’m proud of them.”

WAP sophomore Kyle Kennedy led all scorers with 14 points. He was joined on the Titan scoresheet by Samuels, who scored 9, Cockreham with 6, Logan with 4, Weaver with 3, and Jake Rich with 2.

Southern was led by Segura, who finished in double-digits with 11. He was followed by Collins with 7, Rutherford, Wes Henry, and Andrew Whitis with 4, and William Woodall, Brandon Montz, and Heuron with 2.

WAP finishes their regular season with a record of 7-12 and will now wait to find out which opponent they will face in next week’s area tournament, which starts Feb. 2 at a location still to be determined.

Southern will face Warrior Academy Friday and Open Door Tuesday before opening tournament play Friday.