WATERLOO — Waterloo West sought a change of direction.
Jacory Spates gave the Wahawks the spin they so badly needed.
Spates drove to the basket and hit a layup with seven seconds left in regulation time, giving West a dramatic, 53-51 boys’ basketball victory over Dubuque Hempstead at Siddens Gymnasium.
Winning hasn’t been easy for the Wahawks (5-8, 3-7) this season. They walked onto the court Friday night with just two victories in the last eight games. On one night, West’s fortunes changed for the better.
“I mean, we banded together as a team,” said Spates. “We’d been missing a little spark all year for some reason — something to keep us going. We wanted this one. We were tired of losing. We came out here to make a statement, and I think we did that.”
Hempstead (7-8,3-7) made a strong closing argument of its own, erasing a nine-point West lead in the fourth quarter. When Connor Duax hit a 3-point shot from the left of the key, the Mustangs had caught West at 51-all with 1:03 left on the clock.
The Wahawks nearly turned the ball back to Hempstead, but they ran down the clock. Finally, Spates dribbled the basketball to the right of the key. Head coach Cliff Berinobis had a play called, one designed for a last-second shot.
Spates went his own way. Rather than dish to Demetrius Caddell, the senior guard scrambled toward the basket. He found a lane. He spun and somehow launched a close-range shot under the arm of a Mustang defender.
He banked it home. Hempstead missed at the other end. Ballgame.
“My teammates just had me in a good position,” said Spates, who finished with six points. “We had the floor spread. They trusted me and I just made the right decision. I saw Demetrius in the corner, but they helped off him. The layup was there. I just took what they gave me.”
Said Berinobis, “He must have seen an opening and took it upon himself. He’s capable of getting to the basket. It’s a matter of finishing, and he decided tonight he was going to finish.
“So it was a pretty exciting night.”
Up and down also describes what happened. The Wahawks, going inside consistently, connected on 11 of 13 field goal tries in the second quarter to build a 31-22 halftime lead. Then West went 0-for-9 in the third period and Hempstead pulled within a point. West found a path to the free-throw line in the final quarter and rebuilt the lead, only to see the Mustangs rally late.
That’s when West and Spates decided to spin the game the other way.
“I think maybe we were overdue to get one,” said Berinobis. “The credit goes to the kids, obviously. We coach them up the best we can, but at the end of the day, they’ve got to perform. That’s what they did tonight.”
West 53, Hempstead 51
DUBUQUE HEMPSTEAD (7-8, 3-7) — Lucas Duax 3-6 0-0 8, Connor Duax 6-12 1-2 141, Ryan McDonough 3-12 0-0 9, Marshon Crowder 5-7 0-0 10, Trevor Sindberg 1-2 2-2 4, Keith Johnson 2-5 0-1 4, Tyler Cooksley 1-3 0-0 2, Saveion Williams 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-47 3-5 51
WATERLOO WEST (5-8, 3-7) — Jacory Spates 2-6 2-2 6, Gabe Pepin 1-3 2-2 5, Demtetrius Caddell 2-4 4-6 8, Cardonis Harris-Anderson 4-11 0-0 9, Amel Kuljuhovic 5-7 3-7 13, Javon Lanier 3-9 0-0 9, Trey Burt 1-1 0-0 2, Marrio Wright 0-0 1-2 1. Totals 18-41 12-19 53.
Dub. Hempstead 9 13 11 18 — 51
Wat. West 6 25 3 19 — 53
3-point goals—Hempstead 6 (L. Duax 2, C. Duax 1, McDonough 3), West 5 (Pepin 1, Harris-Anderson 1, Lanier 3). Total fouls—Hempstead 20, West 13. Fouled out—Crowder.
WEST SOPHS 55, HEMPSTEAD SOPHS 38
HEMPSTEAD — LeShaun Evans 19, Jax Dolan 3, Latrell Vance 1, Max Muehring 5, Cody Beck 4, Jordan Kemp 6.
WEST — Jordan Jackson 21, Marrio Wright 5, Tyreek Green 6, Kalen Burt 2, Tyrese Nickelson 18, Todd Keller 3.