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Fred Sims knew where to look for Keith Mack. “It’s a play we worked on earlier in the day in practice,” Sims said.
Sims threw a baseball length pass that Mack caught in stride and scored on a layup that broke the eighth and final tie as host North Lawndale surprised Westinghouse 61-56 in a topsy-turvy game Wednesday at Collins.
“It was a great play, and it definitely changed the momentum in our favor,” Mack said of the score with just under a minute to play that gave the Phoenix a 57-55 advantage.
Warriors’ junior guard Dequantis Jackson (seven points, three steals) split two free throws with 53.9 seconds remaining that cut the Phoenix lead to one-point.
Mack, a 6-5 junior who also registered a team-best eight rebounds, converted two free throws with 20.4 seconds to play that extended the margin to three points. Westinghouse turned the ball over trying to attempt a potential game-tying three-pointer.
North Lawndale’s Marquise Jefferson put the game out of reach with two free throws with ten seconds to play.
Mack scored six of his team-high 20 points in the fourth quarter as the Phoenix (4-4, 2-1 Red-West) fought back from a three-point fourth quarter deficit after squandering a 10-point second quarter lead. “I think I could have done more,” Mack said, “like get more rebounds. It was a great atmosphere, the crowd was in the game and it was a great win for us.”
Sims, a sophomore forward, complemented Mack by scoring 13 points. His driving basket forged the game’s final tie at 55 with just over a minute to play. After a Westinghouse turnover, Sims saw Mack on the long outlet and threw the ball over the top of the Warriors’ man-to-man pressure for the eventual game-winner.
The Phoenix victory overshadowed a spectacular second half showing by Westinghouse star senior guard Ricky Battles. He willed the Warriors (8-2, 2-2) into position to win after they trailed 34-24 late in the second quarter. Battles scored 17 of his team-leading 20 points in the second half. He opened the third quarter with back-to-back three-pointers to spark a 10-3 run in nullifying the Phoenix’ 34-26 lead at the break.
Point guard Andre Watson contributed 12 points for the Phoenix, including a crucial three-pointer in the fourth quarter. Guard Montre Enos scored all eight of his points in the first half for North Lawndale.
Senior forward Dewan White posted a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Warriors.