Western Advances To Regional Semi-Final 65-55 Over East English Village

17 Mar

IMG_0246This is what Josh McFolley came to Western for.  To win and lead.

Last season, McFolley was a key component on a Mt. Clemens team that reached the Class C quarterfinals.  Now as a senior, Josh is the primary leader of a Western team that was once a dormant program of the PSL.

“I’ve been in this position before,” McFolley said of his team’s position in the state tournament.  “I know how to control the team, calm things down a little bit, and the coaches keep us calm too.”

In the team’s 65-55 defeat of East English Village at the Sterling Heights regional semi-final, Josh scored 19 points, hauled in seven rebounds, and assisted on four Cowboy baskets.  For as good as he was, Josh surprisingly didn’t lead the team scoring-wise.  That was held by junior guard Brailen Neely, with a game-high 22 points.

In their short time together, Neely and McFolley have built a strong relationship among one another now reaping rewards on the court.

“We talk about this before every game,” McFolley said of him and Neely.  “Talk about it during practice, what we got to do, ever since day one we’ve been together.  We know we have to work together.”

McFolley struggled in the first-half, connecting on just one of his first five shot attempts.  However, Neely was there to pace Western with 11 points in the opening 16 minutes.

Western held a slim one point advantage at intermission.  Then, it was McFolley’s turn.  Josh scored 11 of the Cowboys’ 21 third quarter points, including six straight at one point.

“I rushed a little bit in the first-half,” McFolley said, “kind of slowed me up a bit.”  “Then the coaches told me just to stay composed and I was expecting it in the second-half too, so I managed to play through it.”

Western knew the game would be an up-and-down affair.  In the first meeting of the year, the two squads combined for 149 points.  Just as it was in January, this game would be dictated by guards.  Three Western Cowboys standing 6’8″ scored just 10 points, and EEVP’s two primary forwards scored combined for 15 points.

The one Bulldog that found any form of success against Western was 6’3″ junior guard Kamari Newman.  Newman scored 22 points, and seven off free-throws.  Yet no other Bulldog scored more than 12 points.

“That was the key,” McDowell added about the team’s defensive strategies.  “Hold the rest down, we knew Kamari (Newman) would get his, but basically hold the rest down.”

A three-ball by Neely gave Western their largest lead of the fourth quarter, 59-48 exactly half-way through the period.  However, a desperation surge by East English placed the Bulldogs down just five with 1:50 in regulation following a Newman three pointer, his only basket of the final stanza.  Despite inconsistent free-throw shooting in the final minutes for Western, EEVP’s could not connect on challenged perimeter jump-shots, the Bulldogs went scoreless on the team’s final five possessions.

East English concludes the year with 16-5 overall record.  The Bulldogs have reason to be optimistic for next season, as just one player graduates from the team’s nine-man rotation.

Western improves their record to 22-0, and have a date with Warren De La Salle Wednesday night in the regional semi-final.  Josh is familiar with De La Salle’s style of play, but remains confident in his Cowboys.

“I know they’re a pretty good team,” he said.  “Pretty scrappy team.  So we just got to play our normal game and continue to play hard and we’ll get the win.”

 

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