Thursday, January 23, 2014
Keyon West’s clutch play has helped get the North Augusta boys basketball team to 2-0 in region play.
The Jackets (12-3, 2-0 Region 5 4A) defeated Lexington 44-42 and White Knoll 58-56, both on buzzer-beaters by West, to begin region play.
“I was impressed with our ability to hold on and not lose ourselves,” Al Young, North Augusta’s head coach, said. “Keyon is a guy who is talented enough to be a starter and we’re able to bring him in off the bench. He gives us great leadership and is somebody we can depend on off the bench.”
West, the North Augusta Star Most Valuable Player for the Jackets football team, said the buzzer-beaters have earned him the trust of his team.
“It was a great feeling (to hit the buzzer-beaters),” West said. “I really think it made the team and Coach Young trust me more.”
Young’s team hasn’t lost in 2014, and is looking for another region championship. According to Young, his team is doing the right things to continue playing well.
“We’ve been able to finish well and do the right things on the court,” Young said. “We’ve been patient with the basketball and have taken good shots.”
While the Jackets have been rolling on the hardwood, there is still room for improvement, according to West.
“(We need to) not let up and, as coach would say, hit the nail on the head with the hammer,” he said. “We have to keep giving our all and, (this week) get two more games closer to our goal of region champs.”
North Augusta has had strong play from its starting unit, but needed more bench production, according to Young. The bench has been bolstered by the play of West and his football teammate, Jaleel Bryant.
“Keyon and Jaleel have been able to help a great deal off the bench,” Young said. “It gives me confidence that I can go to those guys to help us on the floor. I’ve said all year that I need our bench to help us, not hurt us, when they’re out there.”
While the buzzer-beaters of the first two region games have been exciting for Young and his team, the head coach would much prefer a dominating victory over the two-point wins.
“I don’t ever want a close game,” he said. “I want to be our front and relaxed. It’s good to see that our team can execute in close games.”
North Augusta will next be in action in a game that was to have happened on Tuesday against South Aiken and will play Aiken on Friday.
T.J. Lundeen is a reporter for the North Augusta Star. Follow him on Twitter @lundeentj for more updates.