Darius Thrower dropped in 21 points to help the Eagles’ cause.
The Eagles play today at 7:30 p.m. against the winner of the Fannin County/Gordon Central contest for the tournament title.
Chad Parker, head coach, said the Eagles missed some early shots but kept on firing and eventually found their mark.
“We played well in the first quarter but missed a lot of shots,” Parker said. “We had a lot of good open looks but we were a little uptight. I tell our players we can’t be afraid to make a mistake, and we kept shooting and got really hot in the second half, especially the fourth quarter. It was our best quarter and we executed really well then.”
He said Excel’s bench also contributed and that kept the team fresh the entire game and was a factor in the final period, when it took over.
The Eagles scratched their way out to a 16-13 lead after a quarter of play and used a 21-17 run to earn a 37-30 halftime lead. A 19-16 run gave Excel a 56-46 lead after three quarters and Excel closed the game with a 21-14 fourth quarter.
Parker said West was also a big factor in the win.
“Caleb broke out with a huge game and set the tone for us with 31 points,” Parker said. “He just took over and that was good to see. He played loose and did a lot of good things for us.”
He added Thrower, the team’s leading scorer for the season, also had another solid game.
“We had several players who contributed six and seven points,” he said. “Overall we had a really good effort.”
Parker was coaching his first basketball game for Excel due to the resignation of David Boyd.
“I look at it like we’re 1-0,” he said. “We have a fresh outlook on the season. We’ll continue to do the things the right way to make us a good basketball team.”