Warriors top Rector to claim regional title
The Warriors of EPC continued their dominant march through the 2011-2012 season, claiming the 2A-North Regional Tournament championship Saturday night in Monette. EPC downed the Rector Cougars 62-52 to claim the title.
The Warriors led most of the contest, but the streaking Cougars refused to go away. Each time Rector seemed poise to take the lead as the game wore on, though, EPC had a response. The Cougars managed to close to within three points in the final minutes of the fourth, but tourney MVP Jori Ford kept the Warriors in control with a clutch three-pointer with 2:02 left to play. Jammar Sturdivant pushed the EPC advantage to seven, 57-50, with a strong drive to the hoop with just over a minute left in the last stanza. Tight defensive pressure by the Warriors forced a Rector turnover on a bad pass, leading to Ford making one of two at the charity stripe with 54 seconds on the clock.
Rector scored on a pair of free throws on their next possession, but Wendell Pritchett, having an outstanding performance for EPC, converted the one-in-one opportunity with 30 seconds to play. Ford added the finishing touches with a steal and layup with 15 seconds to go, setting the final in place.
EPC led after each quarter: 19-10; 32-22 and 41-34.
The Warriors closed the first frame with a 7-0 run on treys by Pritchett and Martin Powell and a Pritchett free throw.
Pritchett led the way with a game-high 23 points in the win. The senior was a presence all over the court, providing EPC with energy and toughness in the paint and on the boards in addition to knocking down five shots from long-range.
"Wendell plays hard every time he steps on the court," EPC coach Josh Hill said. "Nobody works harder."
A.J. Turner added 12 points for the Warriors in the win. Also scoring for EPC were Ford 8, Sturdivant 6, Powell 6, Byron Scales 5 and Paul Pilgrim 2.
Rector was led by 16 from Denver Knight. Mitchell Weber and Dillon Shelton added 14 and 12, respectively.
The Warriors improved to 26-2 overall and are currently the top team in Class 2A. EPC returned to the state tournament as defending Class 2A champions. The Warriors whipped Danville, 77-44, in opening round action Tuesday in Newark, advancing to a quarterfinal meeting with either Magnet Cove or Parker's Chapel at 8:30 p.m. Friday. A win there would advance EPC to the semifinals at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in Newark.
The Warriors topped Marked Tree, 59-48, in the regional semifinals Friday night.
EPC opened up what had been a tightly-contested game with dizzying pressure defense in the third quarter, allowing the Indians just one field goal and five points in the frame to move ahead, 41-34.
Sturdivant paced EPC with 17 points. Turner notched a double-double with 13 points and 13 boards. Pritchett and Ford contributed 10 points each.
Darius Ivy led Marked Tree with 17 points on the night. Thadious Moore notched 15 in the loss. Alan Buchanan added nine points and 11 rebounds.