From the moment the game started, it was immediately evident this was no ordinary game of two teams struggling at the bottom of the conference. The intensity and effort was different.
Two historically great programs met to salvage pride and honor. Westinghouse traveled to Farragut to determine which program would stay in the Red-West, the bellweather for Public League dominance.
“Farragut has been in the Red-West for 53 years, and we obviously wanted to keep playing there,” senior guard Ashawn Jones said. “Both teams really fought and you saw that out there.”
Jones was the difference-maker. The dynamic 6-4 swingman is a matchup nightmare and he was the player Westinghouse could not contain.
Jones scored a game-high 26 points and added nine rebounds, four steals and two blocked shots as the host Admirals built a 12-point fourth quarter lead and withstood a furious Westinghouse comeback for the 69-61 victory Monday night.
Farragut (7-10) and Westinghouse (12-10) each finished 2-8 in the Red-West. Farragut secured the Public League tie-breaker by winning the second game.
“Most definitely,” Farragut coach William Nelson said about Jones’ play and how he has elevated the Admirals almost single-handedly in the last week. Jones scored the game-winning three-point play in Farragut’s 57-54 victory over Hyde Park at the Orr Shootout on Saturday.
“He saw what we had to work with, especially after we lost a couple of guys before the season and he knew that we were getting smaller,” Nelson said. “He knew he’d have to pick up the load, and he has definitely done that.”
Jones scored 14 points in the first half, providing the Admirals with a crucial 28-26 lead by registering a steal and then scoring off an offensive rebound in the closing seconds. The back and forth first half featured 10 lead changes and four ties. “My teammates were motivating me to continue to drive hard to the basket and crash the boards,” Jones said.
Jones also scored two consecutive baskets as Farragut went on a 6-0 burst midway through the third that changed the game’s outcome. The first basket marked the game’s 13th and final lead change, and the second basket ignited a 20-7 Admirals’ run that extended into the fourth quarter and provided Farragut’s largest margin at 54-42.
Guard Ernest Johnson contributed 13 points and Joshua Adams overcame a slow start to kick in 12 points for the Admirals. “We’ve grown better as a team, started sharing the ball and come together better,” Jones said.
Westinghouse had its own pride and history to fall back on. Star senior point guard De’Quannis Jackson almost willed the Warriors to victory. He scored a team-high 24 points and added five steals, four rebounds and four assists.
He embodied the Warriors’ own tenacity by scoring 10 points during a furious fourth quarter rally. His three-pointer off a Farragut turnover from the left wing capped a 7-0 Westinghouse run that pulled the Warriors within 60-56 with two minutes remaining.
Out of a time out, the Warriors recorded another turnover on the ensuing Farragut possession though failed to convert on two layup attempts. “We had to stop their runs,” Nelson said. “They were making two and three-pointers and we started to get tired.”
Michael Myles (eight points) broke free underneath for a layup for the Admirals. Jackson answered with his final points, another three-pointer, that narrowed the gap to just three points, at 60-57, but Westinghouse never got any closer.
Farragut forced two turnovers in the final 30 seconds that sealed the victory.
“We knew they were going to come out hard against us,” Adams said. “That pressure is something we’ve had the whole year. We just wanted to come out and play hard and show everybody to wait until we get to the city playoffs, because we have something to prove.”
Marlik Williams scored 12 points and added 11 rebounds and Jahrell Allen contributed 11 points and nine rebounds for the Warriors.