Malik Westerfield air-balled his first two three-point attempts Monday night.
Every time he touched the ball, North’s student section made sure he didn’t forget.
“They were really rattling me the first half,” Westerfield said. “I got down on myself. My coaches and all my players kept me up.”
The senior guard and Davenport West had the last laugh.
Westerfield scored 10 of his 13 points in the final eight minutes as the Falcons held off Davenport North 63-60 for a Mississippi Athletic Conference road victory.
“It’s a big rivalry win for us,” West head coach David Robinson said. “For awhile there, he carried the load.”
The Wildcats held the 6-foot-2 playmaker to just three first-half points. Once the fourth quarter started, they were daring Westerfield to shoot the ball, giving him plenty of room.
He happily obliged.
His first made trifecta halted a 10-0 North run to bring them within one. After TJ Vesey connected on a three-point play to give the Wildcats the lead back, Westerfield buried another three to put West back out on top.
With the game tied at 55, Westerfield converted layups on back-to-back possessions to give the Falcons a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
“I knew it was crunch time and I just got hot,” Westerfield said. “We needed someone to score some points.”
In a game that had 14 lead changes, no side could grab a lead larger than nine points. From the opening tip to the final buzzer, it was a track meet.
Exactly what the Falcons wanted. Not the Wildcats.
“We didn't want to get in a shootout,” North head coach Joe Ewen said. “We didn’t want to get into a scoring battle. Once that momentum shifted, we started taking quick shots.”
The momentum shifting run that paved the way for West to grab the season sweep of their city rivals happened in the third quarter.
After North opened with a pair of field goals to lead 39-30, the Falcons (7-11, 6-10 MAC) outscored their opponent 16-1 over a six-minute stretch in the third quarter.
Nasir Beechum and Elijah Hollingshed, both bench players, scored six points apiece during the burst. Beechum had a team-high 14 points and pulled down six rebounds.
“We settled down and got back into the game,” Beechum said. “We’re just trying to help our team.”
Jamil Haymond and Aldane Barrett were both in double figures with 12 and 10 points, respectively.
North (8-10, 7-8 MAC) had a chance to send it into overtime.
Cory Prather had a decent look from the left corner for a game-tying three, but it clanked off the front of the rim.
This came after TJ Vesey buried a three with 7.2 seconds left to make it a one-point game and West’s NaZion Caruthers making two free throws with six seconds left to force the Wildcats into a three-point attempt.
“First option was Cory,” Ewen said. “West did a nice job switching screens and staying with all our shooters. He gave us a good chance to tie it.”
Quincy Wiseman had 12 of his game-high 18 points in the first quarter has North was up 23-20 after the first period and outscored West 15-7 in the second to lead by five heading into the locker room.
Vesey chipped in 15 points and Jayden Houston scored 10.