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West boys pulls off upset of No. 24 Calhoun

By aalvarado
Feb. 1, 2012 at 1:02 a.m.
Updated Jan. 31, 2012 at 8:01 p.m.

Calhoun's Isaac Cardona attempts to drive to the basket while being guarded by Victoria West's Clayton Cain during Tuesday's game in Port Lavaca

PORT LAVACA - For three quarters, Calhoun and Victoria West ground out a low scoring game casual basketball fans wouldn't enjoy.

But in the final eight minutes, West guard Drew Erskine and Calhoun post Isaac Cardona put on a show worthy of two players that have a shot at earning the district's top individual honor.

The pair combined to score all 12 of their respective team's points in the fourth quarter, but it was Erskine's 3-pointer with two seconds left that propelled the Warriors to a 32-31 win over the Sandcrabs.

"I just want to win really badly, it's kind of a knack I've always had," said the senior guard. "I'm confident in the fourth quarter."

It was the second consecutive game where Drew hit the game-winning basket as time expired for the Warriors.

The loss was the first district loss for Calhoun, the 24th ranked team in the latest Texas Association of Basketball Coaches poll. The Sandcrabs are 5-1 in district and 24-4 overall while West improves to 15-13 and 4-2 in district.

"If you're going to lose that game, at least do it with the MVP and he's their MVP," Cardona said.

Drew scored a game high 18 points while Cardona led the Sandcrabs with 13.

The two teams were in a similar situation two weeks ago when they opened district play in Victoria.

Calhoun was ahead 33-30, but West had the final possession and a chance to tie the game in the waning seconds.

In that game everyone in the gym, including Calhoun coach Sonny Benefield, knew Drew was going to have the ball in his hands. The Sandcrabs forced the senior guard to pass the shot off to teammate Nic Bufford for the final shot.

On Tuesday, Drew went off a double screen to the left side of the floor and hit a three with two pairs of hands in his face.

Benefield said the Sandcrabs would be willing to concede a two and play an overtime session rather than a winning three on the final possession.

"We didn't get there, we just didn't get there," Benefield said. "He made a tremendous shot."

After the shot, 2 seconds were put on the clock and Calhoun had a chance to counter with a shot. After getting the ball to half court and calling a timeout, Cardona's last gasp attempt at a three-pointer was well off.

"We played really well together, we did a lot of communicating," said West senior post Clayton Cain. "It was a really good team win."

"We threw up a play and it didn't come out like we wanted it," Cardona said.

The Sandcrabs came into the fourth quarter with a 27-24 lead and Drew put the Warriors up 29-28 with a three-pointer early in the fourth quarter.

After Cardona countered with a basket, the junior post came up with a steal and was fouled by West guard James Murphy while trying to finish the fast break opportunity.

He hit the first shot and missed the second, but got his own rebound on the deflection. Calhoun couldn't do anything with the second opportunity as Ryan Jackson missed converting on a Cardona pass.

West got the ball back with about a minute remaining and set up the Drew's winning shot.

"We came into this one knowing we had a chance to win," said Warriors coach Pat Erskine about West's confidence playing at a ranked opponent.

A year ago Drew won the district MVP award on a team that finished in fourth place. This win put the Warriors one game behind the leaders in district Calhoun and Victoria East.

Cardona also had three rebounds, two assists and a block. Although those may not be overly impressive numbers, he did so in only 20 minutes of action since a pair of early fouls forced him to take an early seat on the bench.

Cardona opened the game with a steal and dunk, but left the game at the 4:06 mark of the first quarter with Calhoun leading 4-2.

Although Drew is the leading West scorer, Pat knew he had to be patient and attack the void that was in the paint.

"We really thought we could get it inside and we did," Pat said.

From that point on in the first half, Cain had four of his seven points and added an assist as the Warriors outscored Calhoun 8-2 in the paint in the first half. The Sandcrabs held a 10-2 advantage in that margin with Cardona back in for the second half.

"Sitting on the bench helps you think a lot," Cardona said. "I shouldn't have picked up those fouls."

In the third quarter, Cardona returned and made up for lost time by hitting a jump shot that gave the Sandcrabs a three-point lead.

He spent most of the third at the top of the key setting screens and distributing the ball.

"He's not selfish and he's a very good passer," Benefield said. "If you're open, he's going to get you the ball."

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