Western Tech boys basketball was ready to celebrate its 69-61 victory over visiting Kenwood on Friday when Wolverine forward Jamabo William grabbed a rebound, was fouled and fell to the floor motionless.
William was conscious, but an ambulance was called and he was taken to shock trauma with a neck injury. The game was called with 9.1 seconds left.
William was released later that night and Western Tech coach Frank Collins said on Saturday, “he’s doing a lot better.”
Seconds earlier, William scored his only point of the game on a free throw. He also had three rebounds and a blocked shot in the final quarter as the Wolverines outscored the Bluebirds, 16-10, to seal the victory.
The Wolverines (7-5) had a 53-51 lead after three quarters, but leading scorer Kole Beaman fouled out in the final seconds of the quarter after scoring a game-high 36 points.
Beaman scored 15 of the Wolverines’ 17 points in the first quarter and 12 of their 16 in the second. He also converted 13 of 14 free throws and made three 3-pointers.
“He’s my man,” Collins said.
With Beaman on the bench, senior point guard Brandon Key took over the main scoring duties and tallied 12 of the Wolverines’ 16 points in the final quarter. He finished with 21 points.
“He just fouled out and I just had to take over the game because he’s our best player and he put us on his back for the first three quarters and I just had to get the win,” Key said.
Without Beaman, Western Tech spread the floor and controlled the clock.
“We just put the ball in my hands and took as much time off the clock as possible, just take it down 20 seconds and just get the last shot, so we can keep the lead and get the win,” said Key, who was playing in his second game back after a knee injury.
Kenwood was led by Austin Mbuyi with 22 points, and Dasan Johns and Chance Wells, each with 16.
Wells’ two free throws tied the game at 53 with 7:47 left in the fourth quarter before Key sparked a 5-0 run with two free throws and a three-point play.
A free throw by Wells and short jumper by Johns made it 58-56 with 6:11 left, but Key answered with a consecutive baskets to push the lead to six. Johns hit a 3-pointer to cut Kenwood’s deficit to three, but that was the closest it would get.
Kenwood had a 19-17 lead after one quarter, thanks to seven points from Mbuyi and six from Johns. Four steals in the second quarter by Key and eight Kenwood turnovers helped Western Tech take a 33-30 lead at halftime.
“We strapped down on defense,” Collins said. “They were getting a lot of easy buckets so we just changed up the game plan a little bit.”
Despite the trapping defense, Mbuyi had 13 points in the third quarter and kept Kenwood close.
“He’s a streaky player and we have to live or die sometimes with that kind of play, but especially when we are short,” said Kenwood coach Predrag Durkovic, who was missing big man Danny Webb because of an illness.
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Western Tech maintained its lead through three quarters, thanks to nine points from Beaman and six from Lawreence Omonua, and Key took over in the fourth despite his ailing knee.
“I feel confident, we’ve just got to keep going and play as a team together and just try to win as many games as possible,” Key said.
Kenwood came into the game with seven victories in its last nine games.
“We just couldn’t bounce back, we’ve been dealing with this all season long,” Durkovic said. “This is a learning experience, we are real young and inexperienced and our better players are juniors and a sophomore.”
Western Tech 69, Kenwood 61
WT-Kole Beaman 36, Brandon Key 21, Lawrence Omonua 6, Jaylen Coyler 3, Nicah Viner 2, Jamabo William 1; KW-Austin Mbuyi 22, Chance Wells 16, Dasan Johns 16, Devin Dangerfield 6, Robbie Hughes 1.
Halftime: 33-30 Western Tech