Covington’s losses are Westview’s gain with season at stake
Posted: Friday, February 15, 2013 12:00 pm
By MIKE HUTCHENS
J.B. Suiter is a firm believer in karma.
The Westview coach insisted it played out in living color Tuesday night.
“It doesn’t always happen but, in most cases, things have a way of working themselves out,” Suiter said after his top-seeded boys’ team upset 10th-ranked Covington 71-68 in Tuesday’s District 13AA quarterfinals.
“Tonight, they did.”
The “things” Suiter was speaking of were the circumstances that had the league’s top two teams meeting in an elimination game in the first round of the district tournament rather than in the finals.
Covington was forced to forfeit 24 victories on the final day of the regular season when a pair of players who’d transferred from Haywood were ruled to have dual residency and were declared ineligible by the TSSAA. League coaches were then given the task of re-seeding the Chargers and dropped them from the top to the bottom in the 10-team league.
Covington then won a play-in game on Saturday to advance to Tuesday’s showdown that — by all accounts — came much too quick in the postseason.
“There are three teams who this was unfair to: Haywood, for not having those kids where they played last year; Covington for having to come here in a do-or-die setting; and us for having to play someone of their caliber in an elimination game after we won the regular season district championship on the last night of the regular season,” Suiter continued.
“And just as bad, there were people who knew this was going on way back in the regular season but it was the day before the district tournament started before anyone asked questions and there was any accountability.”
Westview (26-4) bought itself at least three more games this season with the thrilling triumph, beginning with a semifinal date vs. Ripley in the 13AA semfinals Friday night. The Tigers (12-12) beat Dyersburg 70-55 in another tourney quarterfinal matchup Tuesday.
The Chargers won both regular season meetings between the two clubs, by 11 and nine points, respectively.
Tuesday’s Westview-Covington game itself lived up to its advanced billing with neither team leading by more than eight points in an intensity-filled back-and-forth matchup.
Covington, which had beaten Westview twice in the regular season — the second by a whopping 32 points — before forfeiting those games, saw its season come to a stunning and immediately close when Demetrious Dyson’s halfcourt heave wasn’t close at the final horn.
Westview students stormed the court in celebration with the hometeam while the visitors mostly refused handshakes from Martin afterward.
“It was huge for our kids and our program ... especially given the circumstances,” Suiter said of the victory.
Freshman Justin Johnson came off the bench to score 14 points and give Westview a critical inside presence while Jazell Baker (18 points), Antonio Hogard (17) and Javier Gordon (11) gave the victors a quartet of double-figure scorers.
Johnson got an added workload in playing time in the second half when Gordon — after scoring all of his points in the first half that included a momentum-building dunk — was benched early in the third stanza and never re-entered the game due to a discipline issue.
“Justin’s (Johnson) had three or four games like he had tonight and stepped right into battle and more than held his own,” Suiter said. “And when we had an issue with our senior, he got some more critical minutes in the second half. I think you’ll find him getting more playing time in our next few games.”
Johnson’s power move to the basket to end the third canto put Martin in front for good, 52-51, and Westview then built its largest lead of the contest 2 1/2 minutes into the final frame after Johnson converted a stickback and a 10-footer and Hogard drained a 3-ball to make it 59-51.
Baker dropped in a deep trey to make the difference 62-55 at the midway point, and Westview then survived a final few frantic moments.
Covington got within 67-66 with 62 seconds to play after Jalen Claybon hit a 3-pointer after Westview had missed three times from the line — one the front end of a bonus situation.
Tyquis Johnson hit the first of two charities and Baker dropped in a pair to make it 70-66 with 31 seconds to go before Dyson made a follow shot to halve that difference. Covington then missed on a golden opportunity to tie or go ahead when Dyson then forced a turnover and was fouled on his way to the bucket with 6.7 ticks showing.
Covington’s best player missed both charities, though, and Baker was sent to the line after grabbing the rebound from the second of those tosses. The Westview guard made the first of his two free throws, but not the second.
Dyson’s 19 points were a game-best, 15 of those coming in the second half.
The visiting Chargers’ final record will officially read 2-28.
Published in The WCP 2.14.13
are Westview’s gain
with season at stake