In this game, West Gadsden had more scoring weapons, their defense caused more havoc and the Panthers came away with the school's first state championship when they beat Wildwood 64-44 Wednesday night in the Lakeland Center.
The championship was the FHSAA's boy's 1-A title and it was a team victory with coach Andrew Moten using his deep bench to win this one for "Moody."
Three players scored 14 points for the Panthers and a total of 10 got in the book as West Gadsden's depth kept the Wildcats pretty much at bay after the victors took an 11-4 first quarter lead.
Sammy Carter got that lead going with a three-pointer on the Panthers’ first shot of the game. Andrew Reddick added 4 points and Xavier Bush and Mark Bradwell got a
bucket apiece while the West Gadsden defense was flustering Wildwood in building the lead.
The second quarter saw Rondderrious Stokes enter the game. Stokes ‘rain-bowed’ in a pair of treys and added a bucket in the quarter. That along with two inside scores from Bradwell and a jumper by Jimmy Hester helped West Gadsden go up by10 at the half.
The Wildcats clawed to stay in it in the third quarter mainly from an 8-point stanza from Shemar Rose that included a pair of threes.
But 6 points from Bradwell, 5 from Bush and another three-point archer from Stokes answered the Wildwood run.
Bush then pretty much took over the fourth quarter with a 7-point, 5-rebound effort. That along with another bomb from Stokes, a 5-point quarter from Hester and free throws from Bradwell locked it up as Moten cleared the bench.
When it was all said and done Bush, Stokes and Bradwell had the 14-point games and Bush, Bradwell and Hester had combined for 21 of the Panthers’ 34 rebounds.
The only stat that really went against West Gadsden was the offensive rebounding for Wildwood, which finished the night with 26 o-boards. They couldn't manage to turn them into many points, though, as they hit only 17 of 60 shots and were only 2 for 28 from the arch.
"This of course is a thrill," Moten said. "We got help from so many guys. Bush, Bradwell and Hester's inside play, Stokes scoring off the bench, and Reddick and Harrison, and anybody else we put in there playing defense; it's just no doubt a team effort."
The win was dedicated to Greensboro basketball icon William Moody who was a long-time volunteer coach for the school before passing away last summer.
It ended a 25-6 season record for the Panthers in what could well be the school's final season due to possible school consolidation.