GONZALES - In the three years Victoria West has been open, the Warriors never won a playoff game despite making it to the post season each season.
That changed Tuesday night when the Warriors defeated Medina Valley 55-48.
"I've been on varsity since my sophomore year," senior James Murphy said. "This is amazing. Finally, we get what we deserved and wanted. We put in the work and it paid off."
"We talked about it from day one. We knew we had the opportunity," West head coach Pat Erskine said. "This is huge for us."
In the 2012 playoffs, the Warriors lost in the first round.
"We as seniors said we didn't want to go through that again," Darien Henry said. "We did everything right and never took a practice off."
Murphy scored 22 points and senior Henry recorded a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Neither one left the game.
"I thought James (Murphy) came out with an attitude that he didn't want to lose," Erskine said of Henry and Murphy's performances. "What they did tonight was big.
There was no shortage of motivation for the Warriors on Tuesday night.
Jacob Guzman and Austin Davis, who would have been members of the Warriors' basketball team this season, passed away last year. Before the game, Erskine told his team to keep their memory alive.
"I think when we talk about those two guys, our guys get really quiet and they realize the opportunity they have to play the game they love," Erskine said. "Then they have the opportunity to go forward. That's what we said tonight. Keep that memory alive."
"So, we did this for them," Henry said.
Medina Valley threw a curveball at the Warriors during Tuesday night's contest. Instead of running their usual full-court press defense, they used a combination of zone and man defense to confuse, and trap the Warriors.
"We did work on it, but they changed up the press on us," Erskine explained. "We kept trying to figure out if it was going to be a man-trap or a side-trap. But it was both. It did throw us off a little bit."
That change in strategy by the Panthers allowed them to keep the game close when West was in position to blow the game open.
Early in the second quarter, the Warriors led 17-10. However, the Panthers made it a one-point ball game in less than two minutes.
Midway through the second quarter, a Medina Valley defender swatted a pass away, sending the ball into the scorer's table and dislocating the wires for the scoreboard. The delay lasted only a few minutes.
West entered halftime with a 26-24 lead.
The third quarter was a defensive battle, with only the Warriors scoring more than 10 points. More importantly, the Warriors began to find ways to move the ball down the court against the Panthers' trap defense.
"We just found some holes in the defense and attacked them," Henry said. "They started breaking down then."
The Warriors began the game with a tough defense that forced Medina Valley into four turnovers in the first three minutes. However, West only managed to take a 4-0 lead. The two teams would trade points the remainder of the first quarter, with the Warriors leading 15-10 at the end of the quarter.
Midway through the fourth quarter the Warriors led Medina Valley 47-37, but a turnover gave the Panthers new momentum and fought back to within four points of West with less than two minutes to play.
However, Medina Valley wouldn't get any closer to the Warriors, who outscored Medina 5-2 in the final two minutes of play.
"We were really fortunate there wasn't any time left," Erskine said. "Time ran out on them and we were lucky to make some free throws."
Murphy scored four of those points, including the final two after stealing the ball from the Panthers with 10 seconds left to play.
"I know my Mom is looking down on me and proud of me tonight," said Murphy, who lost his mom during the 2011-2012 season. "It wasn't easy going and missing two weeks of practice and games. I kept working hard and it paid off."
West finally got its first playoff victory in school history, but the Warriors aren't about to stop there. They want more.
"We aren't through yet," Murphy said.