When Walbrook senior guard Marcus Betts fiercely challenged Digital Harbor's big men inside in the game's final minute yesterday - converting a pivotal three-point play - the visiting Warriors answered the Rams' final threat to wrap up a complete team effort.
The No. 4 Warriors had different players step up on offense, and with a collective effort on defense they came away with a 54-43 win at No. 5 Digital Harbor.
In a game in which All-Metro junior forward Roscoe Smith scored 13 points, well below his 20-plus average, the Warriors received 15 points from senior guard Donte Stuckey, nine points and nine assists from junior guard Denzell Walker, and other contributions like the one Betts (five points) provided late to shake off the Rams. Walbrook improved to 5-1, while the Rams lost for the first time to go to 4-1.
"We had some guys do a tremendous job and make baskets when it counted - that's what makes us a team," Walbrook coach Kelvin Bridgers said. "We practice hard every day to have everyone prepared to win. This was a prime example of everybody pitching in. Tonight was a gutsy, gritty effort for our guys, and I'm real proud."
The Warriors, who limited the Rams to 30 percent shooting (16-for-52) and forced 15 turnovers, had a 46-38 lead with 1:27 to play when the home team tried to rally.
Digital Harbor senior guard George Jackson (15 points) scored on a driving basket, and then the Rams quickly converted a turnover into a three-pointer by Davon Usher (game-high 18 points) to cut the lead to 46-43 with 1:23 left.
On the Warriors' next possession, Walker went inside to Betts, who muscled up a shot and was fouled to restore order for the winners, who hit five of six free-throw attempts the rest of the way.
Leading 29-28 early in the second half, the Rams went 0-for-7 with two turnovers in the final six minutes of the third quarter, which allowed the Warriors to take a 36-29 lead into the fourth quarter.
Digital Harbor missed junior guard Justin Jackson, who broke his ankle Saturday and is out indefinitely.