After winning the Northern Region boys’ basketball title, Westfield’s Zach Elcano was anxious to cut off a piece of the Robinson gym’s net — only he wasn’t quite sure of the specifics surrounding the ceremony.
“We’ve never done this before,” he said. “I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to cut off a piece of the hoop or the whole thing.”
“I’ve never actually seen a high school team cut down the net,” said guard Quentin Basil. “I didn’t know we were supposed to take it with us. It’s our first time and it was exciting.”
As he began to snip off a piece of the net, coach Doug Ewell yelled out that Elcano needed to wait his turn — underclassmen are supposed to go first. After some more confusion, the net finally came off and found a home around the 6-foot-11 center’s neck.
“They don’t know what to do,” Ewell joked. “They’ve never been here before. We’ve had some shortfalls in the regional tournament, so this is just huge for this group.”
Westfield won its first-ever Northern Region basketball title Monday night with a 62-49 victory against Edison.
Coming into the game, Westfield knew it had a considerable challenge ahead of itself in slowing down Edison standout Tyrone Mackall.
The red-hot Mackall scored 20 points against Fairfax in the semifinals, and dropped 18 against Langley in the quarterfinals.
But against Westfield his streak slowed down.
Mackall managed to lead the Eagles in scoring with 17, but the Bulldogs shut down his support scorers in Matt Murphy and Marcus Brumsey. At the end of the first half, Westfield had a 22-21 lead, but in the third quarter the post play of Elcano and outside shooting of Basil began to swing momentum in Westfield’s favor.
In the middle of the third, Basil hit back-to-back 3-pointers to increase the lead to 36-25, and then Elcano cashed in on a breakaway to create a 13-point lead that the Eagles never overcame.
“It swung us,” Basil said. “I took those two 3s and Zach made a great play to get those points. It helped us gain confidence. It got us on the run we needed to get up on Edison.”
Edison cut the lead to eight twice, but the continued dominance of Elcano — who was named the game’s Most Valuable Payer denied the Eagles a chance to mount a comeback.
“It was all defense, defense, defense,” Ewell said. “I don’t know much about offense, but it was our defense that helped us win.”
Westfield’s win signifies the completion of a goal created by the team’s senior players when they were sophomores. In their sophomore year under Ewell, the Bulldogs went 4-15.
“It was not pretty,” Ewell said. “We were in every game; we just couldn’t overcome some things. We struggled, but we were always coming up short. Tonight, we finished.”
Westfield now is looking forward to its first-ever appearance in the state tournament. On Friday, the Bulldogs will face Henrico High School; Edison will travel to Richmond to face Petersburg.
The Northern Region hasn’t won a state boys’ basketball title since 2008, when T.C. Williams defeated Bethel, 70-57. Since then, Eastern Region teams such as I.C. Norcom — which has won the past two AAA titles — have dominated.
“It’s tough because the state of Virginia has really good basketball,” Ewell said. “The beach and central regions are really good. It’s just tough.”