by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Westview junior forward Alex Carrick's tip-in with less than 10 seconds on the clock gave the Wildcats a 49-47 win over Aloha on Tuesday.

No matter the quality or caliber of attempt, Westview junior forward Alex Carrick habitually assumes the shot that goes up on the Wildcats’ sake is a miss — even if the try is seemingly a gimme.

With 10 seconds to go in the fourth quarter of the Wildcats’ contest with Aloha on Tuesday, and the game tied at 47-47, Westview head coach Pat Coons penned a beautifully-devised dribble handoff play at the top of the key that got the ball in the hands of Ben Larsen on the run.

Driving hard to his right after accepting the ball from junior post Bryce Johnson, Larsen flashed to the cup in two dribbles, but the lay-up off the window went begging off the rim.

Thankfully for the Wildcats, Carrick never gave up on the play or succumbed to ball watching on the backside. The 6-foot-5 forward crashed from the weakside, got two hands on the carom and tipped the ball home to give Westview a 49-47 lead with 1.8 seconds left.

A missed Aloha senior guard Edger Guerra halfcourt heave later, and the Wildcats were victorious, 49-47, to tie Southridge for third place in the Metro League.

“Make or miss, I go after it and the ball ended up in my hands,” said Carrick, who led the Wildcats with 14 points. “My mentality has always been crash hard, get rebounds. That’s how I play. Rebounding is one of the best things I do, I think. Coach always tells me to rebound, so that’s what I do. It worked out nice for us.”

“We talked about that in walkthrough today,” lamented Guerra. “Any handoffs, we were going to switch. Guys didn’t communicate, we didn’t switch. I stepped over to help, my guy (Carrick) was open for the putback. After that I tried to call timeout, it wasn’t there, so I had to go. The shot looked good.”

Westview is a team that’s grown accustomed to facing close circumstances and thriving under pressure down the stretch. Five of the Wildcats’ contests have been decided by four points or less, with the latest heart-pounding feat coming against an Aloha team that came out firing in the first half.

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Westview senior point guard David Coffey scored 10 points and dished out four assists for the Wildcats against Aloha.

Trailing 45-43 with less than two minutes left in the fourth quarter, Johnson came up from behind Aloha post Kyle Boswell and picked the big man’s pocket cleanly to turn the ball back to Westview. On the ensuing possession, the junior forward slipped a ball screen off the pick-and-roll with Mitch Kekel, took the pocket pass from the top of the key and scored at the hoop to tie the game 45-45.

“I think it’s maturity,” said Johnson, who scored 10 points for Westview. “Our team just finds a way to win. With all these close games, I guess you could say we’re good at winning them. (David Coffey) does a great job at point guard, running plays.”

Kekel came up with another steal after Johnson’s score with 90 seconds left. Then, Coffey split a Warrior double team, maintained control of the basketball with a sweet display of Harlem Globetrotter-like ankle-high dribbling from 15 feet and rolled home the lay-up to go up 47-45.

“We’ve been playing in clutch situations all year,” said Carrick. “Everyone’s been able to make big shots. We’ve learned how to calm down and just run our plays in down-to-the-wire situations like that.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Aloha junior point guard Keith Hunter dishes a no-look pass to Steven Boswell in the paint.

Aloha senior wing Terrell Gayhart missed the go-ahead three attempt from right wing with 30 seconds remaining, but Jay Garmondeh went high amongst the trees and knocked the ball back out to the perimeter. After a quick ball reversal to Guerra, the Warrior guard slashed hard to the tin and finished in front of Coffey who tried to take the charge.

Westview wasn’t a bundle of nerves, however, in the huddle leading up to Carrick’s heroics. They knew how to execute, having been in a number of nail biters before. Coffey calmly entered the ball to Johnson, who shoveled it to Larsen who got a great look and let Carrick clean up for the win.

“We’re starting to feel a lot more comfortable now,” said Coffey. “We’ve gone through a lot of close games. Earlier in the season, we’d all get nervous. But, now we execute our plays and usually come out on top in close games.”

The Warriors freed themselves of their first half chains that held them down against Sunset, Southridge and Jesuit by getting off to a hot start and scoring 16 points in the first quarter. Gayhart came out aggressive, trying to get his offense going with six points while getting his teammates involved with two assists. At the end of one, Aloha led 16-15. Gayhart had nine points for the Warriors.

“Everybody on the team was confident,” said Guerra who had eight points. “Everybody was scoring, making the extra pass, being unselfish. We shot with confidence and I feel like that allowed us to get out to a great start.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Aloha point guard Jay Garmondeh soars to the hoop against Westview's David Coffey for two.

“We were playing as a team,” added Gayhart. “We got more open shots by moving the ball. It was really fun to play in.”

Junior point guard Keith Hunter was a spark plug off the pine, playing the passing lanes, converting tough floaters and prodding the Wildcat defense. Twice in the second quarter Hunter drove, drew Westview into the paint and then found a Christophersen, first Nick and then Nate for three. Garmondeh’s three off a pass from Gayhart was Aloha’s fourth of the first half as the lid that somehow covered the Warriors’ rim during Metro play was lifted for 16 minutes. At halftime, Aloha led 31-28.

“It might be toward the end of the season, but it’s better late than never,” said Guerra. “Guys are starting to show confidence in themselves. The twins (Nick and Nate Christophersen), Jay (Garmondeh) are playing well and that’s what we need. It’s nice to see other guys step up and help us out. I thought today was step forward for us going on.”

Carrick and Coffey said Westview sat down in the locker room at halftime, dissatisfied with the team defense after giving up 35 points in the first half.

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Westview senior wing Mitch Kekel saves a loose ball in front of Alohas Terrell Gayhart in the second quarter of the Wildcats 49-47 win on Tuesday.

The Wildcats came out in the second half with a more physical mentality, and turned off the Warriors’ water by chasing Aloha’s shooters off their spots while containing Boswell’s touches.

“We knew we were a much better defensive team than that,” said Coffey. “We pride ourselves on defense. We knew what we had to do, so we just picked up the effort. They weren’t hitting shots because we were running around and D’ing down.”

Westview and Aloha locked each other up in the third quarter with both squads suffering through long scoring droughts that kept the score from ballooning. Boswell established himself in the post with six points, though Westview led 37-36 at the end of three.

And, after giving up 31 points in the first half, Westview tightened the screws and held Aloha to half that amount in the final two quarters.

Coffey scored 10 points and tacked on four assists for Westview. Trent Glasgow had nine points as the Wildcats who won their second straight game.

“We feel like we’re playing good ball again,” said Coffey. “We’re starting to pick it up, and it’s all about peaking at the right time. The playoffs are coming up. We’re feeling confident.”

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