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Dewan White knew, even expected, that Marshall would not go down without a fight. The Westinghouse senior forward never got too confident with the Warriors up 15 points early in the fourth quarter.
“We knew they were going to make a run, they always do when we play them,” he said.
White proved both farsighted and team savior when he scored on a drive with 2.4 seconds that proved the difference in the No. 25 Warriors’ 60-58 victory over the visiting Commandos in a Red-West opener Wednesday.
White scored 13 of his season-high 19 points in the second half.
Marshall guard Cris Craig (18 points) forged just the second tie of the second half when he scored on a layup with just over 10 seconds to play. Craig scored nine fourth-quarter points as Marshall used a 23-8 explosion that negated a 15-point Westinghouse (7-0, 1-0) advantage with just under seven minutes to play.
Without any time outs, Westinghouse guard Ricky Battles caught the inbounds ball, dribbled twice and found the streaking White.
“I knew they were going to be keying on me, and I had to make a play, that their whole team could not guard against that pass,” said Battles, who finished with nine points, four steals and four assists.
After the Craig basket, White alertly bolted upcourt. “I knew what kind of press they were going to run, and I looked up and once I caught the ball, I made two dribbles and I saw the basket right there and I just laid it in with my left hand.
“We kept our composure and just finished the game out strong.’’
The game served as a throwback to the classic showdowns of the two premier Public League programs. Marshall coach Henry Cotton and several of his staff were assistants at Westinghouse when the Warriors captured the 2002 Class AA state championship.
Marshall’s Jeron Hudson nailed a baseline jumper to put the Commandos (4-3, 0-1) up 27-25 at the break.
White owned the third quarter. His three-point play sparked a 7-0 Warriors run to open the second half. He followed with two baskets that sparked a separate 9-0 Westinghouse burst that extended the Warriors’ advantage to 43-35 to start the quarter.
“In the second half, we played a lot smarter, we shared the ball and we played really good defense,” White said.
Two baskets by junior guard DeQuanis Jackson (10 points) seemingly put the game away as Westinghouse took its largest lead at 50-35. Craig then heated up, scoring seven consecutive points by converting a rare four-point play. Marshall forced eight turnovers in the fourth quarter.
White bailed the Warriors out. “This was a statement week for us, with Marshall today, Young on Friday and Orr next week,” he said. “Everybody wants to know if Westinghouse is back, and we came out today to answer that.”
Senior center Darrell Gant scored 10 points and grabbed eight rebounds for the Warriors, and Darius Mason added nine points.
Tyrone Hilson contributed 11 points and Citron Miller added 10 points for the Commandos.