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West boys eliminated in first round of 6-AAAAAA tournament
Johns Creek proves to be too much for Wolverines
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Forsyth County News

The West Forsyth boys were eliminated in the opening round of the Region 6-AAAAAA tournament on Saturday, falling to Johns Creek by the score of 54-49.

Johns Creek controlled the tempo for the majority of the contest—pushing its lead to as much as 18 points—but a late surge by the Wolverines would make matters interesting.

After clawing its way back little by little, West went up 45-44 with 2:21 left in regulation when Nick Staiti converted an and-1. The Gladiators came right back with a basket of their own, however, and would net five more quick points thereafter.

Down 51-49 in the waning moments of regulation, the Wolverines had a chance to send the game to overtime or win on a three-point play. However, they would turn the ball over with 11.6 seconds left before getting a shot attempt off.

Johns Creek hit three of four of its ensuing free throws, sealing the victory.

“That was a bang-bang play,” West head coach Jim Cook said of his team's costly turnover. “Unfortunately the ball bounced the other way.”

Sophomore Ian Joseph led the way for Johns Creek, scoring 22 points—15 of which came in the second half. The rest of the Gladiators netted just eight points in the final 16 minutes. Joseph also hit a buzzer-beater three at the end of the second quarter, a bucket that would prove essential down the stretch.

For West, senior co-captain John Conway orchestrated a masterful third quarter comeback, potting 12 points in less than eight minutes of action. He finished the day with 20 overall.

“John had a fantastic game, one of the better games of his career here,” said Cook. “It’s just unfortunate it had to end this way.”

Fellow co-captain Jimmy Staiti had a strong game as well, earning a double-double with 10 points and 12 boards. During one possession in the second quarter he corralled four straight rebounds, the final one leading to a basket.

“Jimmy really had a strong game,” Cook added. “He kept us in it when we were down.”

Johns Creek will face the winner of the North Forsyth/Lambert game on Monday at 6:30 p.m.

As for West, the focus moves towards next season and developing those who will return for the 2014-15 campaign.

“Every year we tell the underclassmen, ‘let this one sit in your mind a bit and let it make you a better player in the summer,’” Cook said. “Hopefully our underclassmen can take that lesson and learn.”