Westside High School coach Marvin Fields didn't have a clear-cut answer as to how the Patriots knocked off Evans for their second win in a row.
There was no major strategic change, no anecdotes of a fiery speech from earlier in the season that turned things around.
"We're just trying to get better each game at this stage in the season," Fields said after his team beat the Knights 49-40 at Westside on Tuesday. "I thought we gave a good team effort."
Fields' players seemed equally at a loss for an explanation.
"I just knew we had to get a win," Westside junior Josh Davis said.
Davis was the catalyst late in the game.
The Patriots led throughout and by as many as 12 points, and they led by nine with 3:18 left. But the Knights went on a run. Forward Anthony Williams converted a 3-point play after Westside was whistled for a flagrant foul on his converted layup. Two free throws from Brandon McCladdie pulled the Knights within two with a minute remaining.
The Patriots could have folded. They entered Tuesday's game with a 4-13 record, with six losses coming by five points or fewer.
But Fields' team had held off Josey to win a previous game, and it would do the same against the Knights.
The Patriots exploded for 10 points in the final minute. Davis scored on a fast break layup and stole the inbounds pass to score again.
"That got our spirits down," Evans point guard Troy Belton said. "Our team rolled over after that."
Evans has experienced all the swings of Region 3-AAAA, beating Richmond Academy when it was a top-10 team in the state and losing twice to Glenn Hills. Tuesday's loss was the Knights' second in three games.
They had 23 turnovers Tuesday, frustrating any shot at a comeback.
"They gave us their best shot," Belton said. "And we didn't come out firing tonight."
Evans forward Dominique Samuels kept the Knights in it during the first half, scoring six points during the second quarter. But Westside was up 11-2 after the first eight minutes and led 20-8 with 2:02 left in the first half.
The Patriots maintained a comfortable edge until the final two minutes. Evans forward Anthony Williams converted a 3-point play and forward Brandon McCladdie sank two free throws to pull the Knights within 39-37 with one minute remaining.
The win gave Westside four Region 3-AAAA wins. None was more unlikely than the last one.
"It's going to be a big turnaround from here on out," Westside's Chris Hunter said.
Hunter went down the Patriots' roster, listing all the contributors to Westside's win. Westside forwards T.J. Ramsey and Darius Foster matched up well with Evans' big men and often frustrated the Knights with their second-chance points.
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