Wyoming East is known for its shooters, but the Warriors played lockdown defense to earn a trip to Charleston.
The Warriors held Shady Spring to five points in the second quarter and scoreless for the first three minutes-plus in the third on the way to a 57-41 win in a Region 3 cofinal on Wednesday night at New Richmond.
“It feels great,” said East first year head coach Derek Brooks. “I thought our team played good defense. Really, both teams played good defense.”
The Warriors trailed, 8-7, after the first period but Dylan Brehm’s hot shooting and stellar stops on the defensive end put them in control.
Brehm hit fron 15 feet on the right wing and followed his own miss to the basket early in the second to put WEHS ahead for good at 11-10.
He hit another one from the left wing as East went on a 10-0 run.
“We saw that the guy on Dylan couldn’t guard him, so we kept feeding him the ball,” said Logan Mullins.
At 17-13, the Warriors finished the half with an 8-0 spurt.
Mullins his a trey and Brehm sank two foul shots.
Brehm knocked down a three from straight away with :03 left to send his club to the dressing room with a 25-13 advantage.
“I told them at halftime, you have to come out on fire,” Brooks said. “You don’t want to have a let down.”
They didn’t. The Warriors opened the third period with seven straight points.
Brehm, who had a game-high 20 points, converted a three-point play and drained a 15 footer.
Jon Sims hit a couple of foul shots, and it was 32-13.
The Tigers (15-10) never really recovered and didn’t get closer than 12 the rest of the night.
East took a 35-20 lead into the fourth quarter.
It was 40-28 when the Warriors put the game out of reach.
Brehm scored off a nice dish from Sims. Then Corey McKinney, shut down by the Tigers up to then, hit back to back threes to push the lead to 48-28.
“They were smothering me and I couldn’t get a shot,” McKinney said. “But there was a gap, and my teammates found me, as they always do.”
The Warriors spread the floor and down the stretch and made enough freee throws to keep the lead safe.
“We’ve been playing together since we were kids,” said center Zach Cook about the five senior starters. “We always wanted to win a state championship.
“It’s one of the greatest feelings you can have to go to state,” Sims remarked.
“We wanted to go to Charleston and win our last home game,” Brehm said.
Brehm was followed in scoring by Cook (12), Sims (9), McKinney (6), McQuade Canada (5), Mullins (3) and Ethan England (2).
Logan Cook had 11 for Shady. Cole Honaker and Tommy Williams scored 9 each.
“We’re not finished,” Brooks stated. “I told the kids it takes six wins to win the state championship. We’ve got three more to go.”
The Warriors (15-10) won thier tenth regional championship and improved to 5-0 all-time in tournament games played at home.
East is the No. 6 seed in AA and will play No. 3 Chapmanville on March 16 at 9:30 a.m.
John Conley can be reached at 304-732-6060 or on Twitter @PIHnews.
Photo: Wyoming East players celebrate after winning the regional championship on Wednesday night at New Richmond.