WHITE CASTLE — A basketball team that executes well is a lot like a sports car.
When you kick it into gear, there’s no way anybody can catch you.
That’s precisely what White Castle did to District 8-1A rival West St. John on Tuesday night. The Bulldogs shifted into high gear starting with a 9-0 second-quarter surge en route to a 56-39 victory.
“Our defense was lagging a little bit,” WCHS coach Troy Green said. “It’s like I told them (WCHS players), they weren’t going to come in here and let us win. We had to fight to get the victory. We’re playing for first place, and you’ve got to play like you’re playing for first place.”
The other White Castle team playing for first in District 8-1A, the Bulldogs girls squad, displayed their flair for the dramatic in a 36-35 win over West St. John.
Coach Tammy Pierce’s White Castle squad led by as a much as 13 points before surrendering the lead with 1:51 remaining.
Sophomore Brooklyn Falcon rebounded a teammate’s miss and scored what proved to be the game-winning layup with 28.9 seconds as WCHS came away with its first girls basketball win over West St. John since 2011.
“I had to get it (rebound) because it’s their (our seniors’) last year,” Falcon said. “I had to do it, but I was nervous. At first, I thought the ball was going to come out but it went in.”
The Bulldogs sweep means different things to the two teams. Green’s White Castle boys (20-7, 8-0) now have a two-game lead over West St. John (7-10, 6-2) in 8-1A. The WCHS girls (17-10, 7-1) tied West St. John (22-5, 7-1) in their 8-1A standings.
WHITE CASTLE 56, WEST ST. JOHN 39: Samson Westley led White Castle with a game-high 24 points, while Ja’Tyre Carter added 12 points, nine rebounds and five blocked shots.
What made Westley’s effort even more impressive was that he limited the Rams’ top scorer, Morrell Bartholomew to 11 points. Westley and Trey Melancon each hit a 3-pointer in the second quarter to fuel the Bulldogs’ 9-0 run. Amere Oubre also had 11 for the WSJ.
Though White Castle led 25-16, WSJclosed within five at 25-20 by halftime. The Bulldogs extended their lead back to nine points after three quarters and then outscored West St. John 17-9 in the final quarter.
“We went out there (in the second half) trying to pick up our defensive intensity,” Westley said. “When we did that (offense) happened.”
Westley scored three times on breakaway layups that followed turnovers in the final quarter and WCHS led by as much as 21 points.
“They have depth and tradition over here, and that’s where we’re trying to get,” West St. John coach Lavanta Davis said. “They know how to win.”
WHITE CASTLE 36, WEST ST. JOHN 35: Pierce’s plan to have her team take a more deliberate approach on offense was risky, but paid off.
“We wanted to run the time off the clock,” Pierce said. “Some shots went in and some didn’t. I had to call a timeout and tell them not to panic.
“We’ve been battling that (close games) all year. We’ve had two games go to double overtime and won. We didn’t lose our composure. It means a lot to us having her (Falcon) step up.”
Shylar O’Bear and Falcon each had 11 points to pace the White Castle.
Maya Trench, who hit the go-ahead 3-pointer, finished with a game-high 18 points for West St. John.
“We started slow,” WSJ coach Lester Smith said. “We don’t normally do that. I don’t know whether (the WSJ players) took White Castle for granted. It was a good ballgame, and I think we’ll learn from it.”