by Will Gilbert
Shirley forward Jed Privitt scored two of his team-high 25 points less than 10 seconds after the opening tip as the Blue Devils took a lead they would maintain over West Side for the duration of Friday night’s 80-65 victory played in front of a packed house at Brady-Hipp Arena in Greers Ferry.
The conference champion Blue Devils (24-7, 10-1), who bounced back from their first league loss of the season Tuesday at Pangburn, scored the first six points including five from Privitt, who followed his game-opening basket with an old-fashioned three-point play off an assist from guard Joe Owen.
Shirley pushed its lead to 10-1 on a deep three-point shot by versatile Easton Freeman, prompting the Eagles to call for timeout. West Side closed the gap back to six on a strong drive from guard Gage Hewitt, who drew contact and canned the ensuing foul shot for a three-point play.
Privitt was saddled with early foul trouble, but guard Tyler Landon gave the Blue Devils a lift off the bench with a basket that pushed Shirley’s lead to 17-7 entering the second quarter.
West Side post player Joe Paul Freeland sank a fade away baseline jumper to begin the second stanza before the Blue Devils reeled off a 16-2 spurt sparked by Owen, who scored in the paint. Landon added a reverse layup off a strong drive, causing West Side to call for timeout. Hewitt responded with another strong drive for two following the break in action, but Shirley poured in the next 10 points including six from Freeman as the Blue Devils opened up a 31-11 lead.
West Side guard Randon Carlton, who had been relatively quiet for most of the first half, poured in eight points in a three-minute span and Hewitt drilled a deep three-pointer with time winding down to close the gap to 40-24 at halftime.
Much like the opening minutes of the first half, Privitt took charge for Shirley in the opening minutes of the second half. The strong, versatile forward followed his own miss for two and powered up for a pair of three-point plays.
West Side managed to hang around thanks in large part to Carlton and Hewiit, who each sank a three-point shot to keep the Eagles withing striking distance. But, the Blue Devils never allowed West Side to draw closer than closer than 15 as Freeman popped a corner three, Landon added a short jumper and Privitt nailed a three from the wing.
In the closing seconds of the third quarter Freeman bombed a deep three-pointer to stretch Shirley’s lead to 63-44 entering the final period.
Carlton scored 11 of his game-high 29 points in the fourth quarter as West Side scrapped until the end, but Shirley was just too much.
Following Privitt’s team-high 25 points for Shirley, Freeman scored 19 behind five three-pointers. Power forward Mike Fuller followed with 11 points (all in the first half) and Landon had 10. Owen chipped in six for the Blue Devils, guard Sam Spurlin had four, reserve guard Luke Lucas knocked down a three-pointer and reserve post player Jaret Bradley contributed a basket.
Carlton’s game-high 29 points for West Side was followed by Hewitt, who finished with 18. Freeland added 10,e power forward Trent Bentley scored all six of his points in the fourth quarter and guards Austin Watters and Hayden Moore each had two points for the Eagles (13-12, 4-6.)