90° F Wednesday, July 26, 2017

With a chance at the District 15-5A playoffs riding on winning its last two games, the Westlake boys basketball team made the plays when they counted the most to keep the season going.

Chase Carlton’s off-the-glass, 30-foot 3-pointer with 2.7 seconds left to play propelled the Chaps to a 50-47 win over Bowie Friday night before an overflow crowd at Bowie.

Thanks to the victory Friday, Westlake (17-14 overall and 5-6 in 15-5A) still has a chance to play in the postseason if they can beat Akins Tuesday in an all-or-nothing game at home.

If the Chaps win that game, Westlake and Akins will be tied for fourth place in district, necessitating a tiebreaker game either Friday or Saturday to determine the final participant in the playoffs from 15-5A.

Carlton’s winning shot came at the end of a wild sequence in the game’s final two minutes. With Westlake up 47-44, Bowie’s Ryan Smith beat two Chaps defenders for a layup while being fouled; he made the ensuing foul shot to tie the game at 47-47 with 1:59 to play.

Westlake got the ball across halfcourt and went into a stall, with Carlton, guard Will Morse and post Jordan Severt passing the ball between them and out of the reach of the Bowie defenders. The Chaps burned off all but the final 10 seconds of the clock as the crowd howled.

With 10 seconds to play, Morse made a move to the basket but was stopped by Bowie’s Blake McMaude and passed to Carlton, who didn’t hesitate in shooting from a full three steps behind the 3-point arc. The shot hit squarely in the bow behind the rim and fell through the net to put Westlake ahead.

Bowie quickly called a time out with 2.7 seconds to play.

After another timeout, the Bulldogs’ last-chance pass into the frontcourt was intercepted by Morse, who cradled the ball as time expired.

Carlton led the Chaps with 23 points. He was questionable for the game after suffering a deep contusion of the right thigh in the first quarter of the Feb. 5 loss to Austin High and couldn’t walk the next day. Carlton underwent acupuncture treatment that day and again on Feb. 7, but wasn’t near 100 percent for the game Friday.

Somehow, Carlton found the will to be good enough to help his team beat Bowie.

“I knew what was on the line of our team, so I was willing to do whatever it took to find a way to play this game,” Carlton said. “I was never really comfortable out there tonight, but at least I wasn’t dragging my leg like I was for three quarters against Austin High.”

Jackson Carter added 11 points for the Chaps while Morse was held to just three points – all on free throws.

Bowie (15-15 overall and 2-9 in 15-5A play) was led by 15 points each from Zach Nunnery and Smith.

Carlton said he knew it would come down to either Morse or him to take the final shot and he was ready when he got the chance and a good luck.

“It wasn’t the longest shot I’ve made in a game, but it was the longest shot I never made to win a game,” Carlton said. “I have a good history in [the Bowie] gym – when I was a freshman and on the JV team, I hit a floater at the buzzer to beat Bowie here.”

Westlake beat Bowie earlier this year in like fashion, as Patrick Elliott banked in a 3-pointer in the final seconds to hand the Chaps a 55-52 win on Jan. 15.

This time, the last-minute heroics were only possible because Westlake shrugged off a ragged first half and turned up its defensive intensity.

Westlake trailed 15-8 at the end of the first quarter and looked to be in dire straits when Morse, their leading scorer, went to the bench after his third foul just 55 seconds into the second quarter. Somehow the Chaps were able to keep the Bowie lead at 25-18 at halftime, thanks mostly to the Bulldogs’ missing five of their last six shots in the second period.

“At halftime, we just told our guys that we needed to play our game, and not let the little things that were going on affect us,” Westlake coach Tres Ellis said. “We knew we would have to be better on defense if we were going to have a chance to beat Bowie and we made things happen to turn the game around in the third quarter.”

Severt was a huge factor in the third-quarter rally, scoring six points (he had 10 for the game) – including an inside bucket off a Carlton assist with 1:10 to play to bring the Chaps to within 33-32 at the end of the period.

Carlton started the fourth period with a 3-pointer that gave Westlake its first lead at 35-33, and the Chaps would never trail again. Bowie missed its first four shots of the final period but got seven consecutive points from Zach Nunnery to pull to within 44-42 with 3:14 to play, but Carlton hit a free throw and Severt hit two more from the charity stripe to set up the final 2:42 of mayhem.
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