Joshua West knew it wouldn’t be an easy game for Westinghouse at Farragut on Wednesday.
And that was before he and the rest of the Warriors found out there was a problem with the heat in the Admirals gym.
It was so chilly, the officials kept their warmup jackets on throughout the game and one put on a stocking cap during breaks in action.
“I’ve never been in an atmosphere like this, especially this cold,” West said.
The Warriors had an abbreviated pregame warmup and took a while to get comfortable. But West steered them to a 51-48 Red-North/West win, converting the go-ahead three-point play with 21.6 seconds remaining.
“We couldn’t get going and it showed when we started the game,” West said. “Came out rough, shots [weren’t] falling. But we were able to grit it out and make our offense from our defense.”
West, a 6-3 senior guard, finished with a game-high 20 points, eight rebounds and five steals. Isaiah Giles and Askia Bullie each added 11 points for the Warriors.
Westinghouse (11-10, 5-3) needed all of it against a shorthanded Farragut team trying to avoid relegation.
Longtime Admirals coach William Nelson said Farragut moved up to the Red in 1960 and has been there ever since. The Admirals (4-11, 2-7) began the day in a three-way tie for seventh with Lincoln Park and Marshall in the 10-team conference. The bottom two teams will drop to the White next season.
The effects of the pandemic are still being felt at Farragut, which has had players in and out of COVID-19 protocols. The Admirals have just nine players in the program, all on the varsity, and two were out injured on Wednesday.
But the healthy Admirals gave the Warriors everything they could handle. The teams traded leads all night and the margin was never larger than five points.
Giles hit two free throws with 1:29 left to put Westinghouse up 48-46. Farragut sophomore Daniel Murillo put back his own miss to tie it at 48 with 1:07 remaining.
West scored inside and hit the ensuing free throw to break the final tie. Both teams had turnovers in the frantic final seconds and a last-second three-point try by Farragut was off the mark.
“You come in this gym on Christiana [Avenue], you know you’re not walking out with an easy ‘W’,” Westinghouse coach Rafie Fields said. “Unless you take them away early, which we didn’t do.”
But West was the difference, which was no surprise to Fields.
“In our eyes, he’s one of the best two-way players in the state,” Fields said. “He’s proven it night after night in this conference and in nonconference games.”
Justin Pickens, a 6-4 junior, led Farragut with 11 points, 14 rebounds and four steals. Jaylen James had 11 points and five rebounds. and Murillo scored 10.
“I’ve got a real young squad,” said Nelson, a 1978 Farragut grad in his 32nd season at his alma mater. “It’s driving me crazy — so many disruptions trying to get these guys up to speed.”
Six of the Admirals are freshmen or sophomores and just one is a senior. Another senior expected to be a mainstay didn’t return this season because of family issues.
“I’m trying to teach them what it is to play in the Red division,” Nelson said. “It’s tough.”