West head coach Pat Erskine talks to the team during a time out. The Warriors win over Gregory-Portland puts them in a strong position to make the playoffs with two games remaining.
Originally published on Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Fans inside Victoria West's gymnasium had plenty to cheer about during the Warriors's 50-29 victory over Gregory-Portland.
But the cheers were never louder than when Ian Kneual took to the court late in the fourth quarter.
"I can't describe the feeling," Kneual said. "It was amazing."
"He has done everything for us," West head coach Pat Erskine said. "It was just befitting to give him an opportunity to play at home. Just knowing that Ian was getting that opportunity was big for our team."
Kneual, who took three shots against Gregory-Portland, has been the team manager for West the past four seasons, doing various tasks that ranged from video taping games to taking stats. He has played with the sophomore team, but never thought he'd be on the court with the varsity squad.
"It was really exciting, but I was nervous," Kneual said. "Because it was my first time playing with varsity, ever. Sophomore team helped me prepare, but I never expected this."
Kneual entered the game late in the fourth quarter when the Warriors had already established a 25-point cushion, but the impact he had on the game could not go unnoticed.
West (17-13, 7-4) needed a victory Tuesday night to stay in the playoff chase. Currently, the Warriors sit in third place behind Calhoun and Calallen. Calhoun has just one loss in district play, while Calallen has three.
The top four teams from each district advance to the playoffs.
"We knew we had to win," Erskine said. "We needed to win to be in a playoff position."
The Warriors defense was able to shut down Gregory-Portland's offense for much of the game, allowing Gregory-Portland to score more than 10 points only once, in the fourth quarter when the game was already decided.
"I thought it was a great team effort tonight," Erskine said. "We had a couple mental mistakes tonight on defense, but I think they played really hard."
Ruben Trevino led West in scoring with 13 points. Akeem Greene and James Murphy each had 11 and Darien Henry had eight.
Henry, despite scoring just eight points, had a big impact on Tuesday night's game, using his 6-foot, 6-inch frame to dominate the paint.
"Darien (Henry) has been a factor for us in the last three ball games," Erskine said. "Not only his size, but his ability to score. He's helped in more ways than one."
West's most dominating quarter of play was the third when the Warriors allowed Gregory-Portland only four points, two of which came from a pair of trips to the charity stripe. On the other end of the floor, West was nearly unstoppable, scoring 18 points.
Ben Weedon led Gregory-Portland in scoring with nine points.
Kneual enjoyed the experience of playing with the varsity team, but admits he can keep improving.
"I need to keep working on my shot," he said. "It wasn't falling tonight. I just have to keep practicing and shooting."
The Warriors have the next seven days off before hosting Beeville in the season finale.