Jacob Brown hit two free throws after being fouled on a desperation buzzer-beater to help West Wilkes avoid the upset with a thrilling 54-53 victory over East Wilkes Thursday night in Millers Creek.

The Blackhawks were down one in the Mountain Valley Athletic Conference first round matchup with six seconds left on the clock after an offensive rebound and putback by East’s Trey Lambert gave the Cardinals a late 53-52 advantage.

Lambert was fouled on the make by West’s Jaden Wentz but failed to connect on the and-one opportunity. Instead, the errant shot was rebounded by West’s Dylan Miller, who quickly passed the ball to Brown, the Blackhawks’ point guard, on the left.

Brown wasted no time, sprinting down the court until he reached the midline. There, Brown shot a deep, running three-point attempt and was fouled by East’s Caeden Howell as time expired.

Brown connected both of his chances in front of the raucous home crowd, making his third free throw opportunity unnecessary as the Hawks advanced.

With the win West Wilkes improved to 16-7 overall, while the Cardinals, the tourney’s sixth-seed, finished their season at 7-16. The third-seeded Blackhawks next play the winner of Friday night’s tilt between Wilkes Central and Alleghany next week in Hays, where North Wilkes will host the tournament’s semifinal and final rounds.

Brown led the home team with 17 points, and Miller added 11 off the bench. Jackson Stinson, who fouled out late in the game, scored nine, with seven of those coming in the first quarter. Lambert paced the Cards with 16, and Lee Billings chipped in seven.

No. 4 West Wilkes 46, No. 5 North Wilkes 40

West Wilkes survived a test from one of the hottest teams in the Mountain Valley Athletic Conference in the opening round of the league tournament Thursday night in Millers Creek by beating North Wilkes 46-40.

The No. 4 seed Blackhawks advanced to round two by overcoming a fifth-seeded Vikings’ squad that had won four contests in a row prior to round one.

Kendall Stanley led the way with 15 points for West Wilkes, who improved to 18-5 with the win. Jamilyn Wilcox added 12 points and Carson Ledford tallied 10, with the junior post player connecting on 8 of 11 chances from the charity stripe.

North Wilkes fell to 14-11. Shelby Roal had 16 points to lead all scorers, and Rachel Winkler chipped in 13, 11 of which came in the second half.

The Blackhawks led most of the way, but the Vikings hung around just close enough to make it interesting. And North cut their fourth quarter deficit to as little as one point, at 38-37, with 3:48 left to play.

But West Wilkes was too much down the stretch, with Stanley leading the charge with six points in the final frame.

The Hawks next face top-seeded Ashe County Tuesday in Hays. Tipoff is scheduled for 6:30 at North Wilkes, the school hosting the tournament’s final two rounds.

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