All-star games usually don’t have late-game strategy — holding the ball for the final shot. But the North pulled it off in style Friday night.
Jarrod West knocked down a fadeaway 3-pointer ahead of the buzzer, giving the North a thrilling 108-105 comeback victory in the North-South Classic at the South Charleston Community Center.
West’s buzzer-beater ended a five-game winning streak for the South, which leads the series 28-7 since its resumption in 1983. It also locked up the North MVP award for West, the state player of the year and Marshall recruit who led Notre Dame to the Class A championship last March.
The North ended the game on an 18-5 run, rallying from a 100-90 deficit with less than six minutes remaining. Riley Heatherington (Ravenswood), who led the North with 19 points, gave his side a 105-104 lead on a three-point play with 1:17 remaining.
DeAundra Murphy (St. Joseph) knotted the score for the South by making 1 of 2 free throws with 55 seconds left. The North collared the rebound and called timeout.
As is the case in most all-star settings, neither side had shown a tendency to work much time off the clock all night, but this time the North made an exception.
“The first question that was asked in the huddle,” West said, “was, ‘Are we going to hold for the last shot?’ And I was like, ‘I think we can.’ Everybody was on board with it, and we moved the ball well, we screened well, we got open. No turnovers, no bad plays.”
Like in most well-designed plays, West didn’t touch the ball in the North’s weave until Cam Stephens (Musselman) put it in West’s hands beyond the 3-point line with the clock under 13 seconds.
Guarded by Isaiah Francis (Woodrow Wilson), West dribbled down the remaining time, took a couple of quick bounces toward the foul lane, stopped and elevated for his winning shot, which splashed through the net with less than three seconds left. The South tried to call a timeout, but it was not granted.
“Cam got me the ball at a good time,” West said. “He trusted me, my teammates trusted me, and I just knew I had to get a good shot, and I was going to shoot it with confidence and give my team our best chance to win.
“Our team executed real well [on the final possession]. They popped out strong, they were strong with the ball. No turnovers, no bad passes, no close plays. They trusted me in the end, so we got the win.”
West finished with 17 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Besides his 19 points — 15 of which came in the second half — Heatherington had seven rebounds. Justin Lee (Fairmont Senior) came off the bench to boost the North with 14 points and six rebounds and Austin Upton (Philip Barbour) scored 10 points.
Murphy was selected as the South MVP in a media vote, ending up with team-highs of 25 points and six assists to go along with seven rebounds. The Alderson Broaddus recruit also turned in two of the game’s five dunks.
“I’m satisfied with my game overall,” Murphy said, “and I’m satisfied to play with my best friends again this last time [before] going off to college. It was just a blast. I had fun. Jarrod hit an unbelievable shot, but I’m satisfied with the way we played.”
One of Murphy’s friends, Huntington’s John Dawson, chipped in 20 points and eight rebounds for the South, but his team was undone by some sour second-half shooting. The South was 2 of 20 from 3-point range in the second half and 10 of 46 for the game.
Poca standout Luke Frampton donated 17 points and 12 rebounds for the South, going 5 of 10 on 3s. However, the Davidson recruit did not score in the second half after his team led 59-57 at the break. No one else scored more than seven points for the South.
The game’s other dunks were pulled off by Frampton, Lee and the South’s Coty Jude (Tolsia).
In the pregame skills competitions, Upton won the free-throw title, beating Bobby Foggin (Parkersburg South) in sudden death, Seth Brown (Greenbrier East) took the 3-point shootout, edging Heatherington in the finals 19-18 and Frampton bested Lee in the finals of the slam dunk.
The West Virginia Athletic Directors Association, the game’s sponsor, handed out two $500 scholarships after the game to Foggin and Tyler Haga (Independence).