Every time the Bryan Vikings made a run at Waco High, guard A.J. West and the Lions had an answer for them, right up until the final buzzer when West threw down an emphatic exclamation point.
West scored 18 of his 24 points in the second half, leading the way as Waco High claimed a 55-44 victory over Bryan on Tuesday night at the Lions’ home gym.
Waco High (15-9, 2-1 in District 18-5A) controlled the game on both ends of the floor and benefited from keeping its composure on its home floor.
Bryan was whistled for three technical fouls, including one on the Vikings bench that caused a brief pause in the game late in the third quarter as Bryan coach Chris Jones pleaded his case. But the referees wouldn’t budge and West stepped to the free-throw line and knocked down a pair of shots that gave the Lions a 36-32 advantage going into the fourth quarter.
On several occasions, Waco High coach Earl Farley called or his team to go into a four-corners stall and run clock when the Vikings had set up in a 2-3 zone defense. Each time, Bryan switched back to man-to-man in less than a minute.
“I was getting them to man up,” Farley said. “I’ve got guys that are quick and can get by them. So I wanted them to man up so we could get by them and score.”
Forward Zach Nutall scored a game-high 25 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead Bryan (1-2 in 18-5A). But Waco High held the rest of the Vikings below double-figures and successfully limited Nutall.
“We had to slow (Nutall) down,” Farley said. “He’s their main man. He’s a scoring machine for them. We tried to run a little box-and-one on him, play a zone and keep him in a box.”
Bryan forward Jaqwan Washington made an inside basket on an assist from Nutall to cut Waco High’s lead to two points with 6:55 left in the fourth quarter.
That’s when West really took over as he took the ball into traffic and made a floater. Lions guard Jimmy Veal followed with a jumper in the lane and West added another mid-range jumper as Waco High went on a 6-0 mini run.
Veal, who finished with 10 points to join West in double digits, took the ball to the basket for a layup that put the Lions ahead 46-38 with 1:51 remaining.
West and Tyric Crosby combined to make 5 of 6 free throws in the final 1:29 to keep the Lions in front.
Then West got a loose ball for a fast break and threw down a game-icing dunk with seven seconds left, causing a roar to erupt from the Lions fans.
Waco High continues district play with a showdown with University on Friday night at University High School.