Craig Harris/Macon County Times Macon County High sophomore guard Braydee Brooks scored a career-high 28 points in the Tigers’ 45-42 victory over Westmoreland.

Craig Harris/Macon County Times

Macon County High sophomore guard Braydee Brooks scored a career-high 28 points in the Tigers’ 45-42 victory over Westmoreland.

WESTMORELAND -- The Macon County High School boys basketball team didn't have much in its favor early in the second half of Friday night's game at Westmoreland.

The Tigers faced a nine-point deficit on the road and were playing without its lone senior, starting forward Lake Reid.

However, Macon County responded by scoring 22 of the next 30 points, rallying for a 45-42 victory.

"We talked about it," Tiger sophomore guard Braydee Brooks said. "It's a new year. We all said we're going to be in the gym and work harder than we ever worked. Hopefully, it will pay off in the end."

Brooks and junior teammate Noah Hale carried Macon County offensively, combining for 41 points.

Brooks got going early on, scoring 10 points in the first quarter.

"It's crucial," Brooks said of the strong start. "If anybody gets hot in the first quarter, it feeds over to the rest of the game."

He finished with a career-high 28 points, seven rebounds, five steals and two blocked shots. Brooks made 8 of 17 field-goal attempts (including four 3-pointers) and all eight of his free-throw attempts.

"He's been awesome," Tiger head coach Adam Bandy said of Brooks. "He's matured and grown a lot. When Conner (Johnson) went out, he was like, 'I have to step up and do it.' Early in the year, he was pressing too much. He's letting the game come to him now. He's grown and matured a lot. He's done a really good job with all of that."

There were 10 lead changes in the first quarter.

Brooks' second 3-pointer sent his squad into the second stanza with a 15-13 lead, and he converted a layin to open the second-quarter scoring.

However, Macon County (5-11) produced just two points over the final six-plus minutes of the half.

During that span, Reid left the game due to an ankle injury and didn't return.

"It was tough," Brooks said. "We had (Dawson) Shrum and (Landon) Colter both rotating in. They played awesome defense, helped us a ton."

Westmoreland (3-11) concluded the half on a 10-2 run to take a 23-19 lead.

"I preached to them (to play) 32 minutes," Bandy said. "A lot of times, our guys would get down. I told them at halftime, 'Look, Lake's hurt, and somebody is going to step up.' I thought Cody (Cothron), Dawson and Landon all played big minutes. It was definitely a team effort."

Then, the Eagles scored seven of the first nine points in the third quarter to create the nine-point margin (30-21).

"They always say that the first four or five minutes of the second half is the most important," Brooks said. "They jumped out on us. Coach Bandy kept telling us to be patient, run our plays and set our screens. It eventually paid off for us."

The Tigers responded by scoring 14 of the final 17 points in the third period.

Hale scored six consecutive points, and Brooks followed that by making two 3-pointers over the final 1:24. That gave Macon County a 35-33 lead entering the fourth quarter.

"We trusted our offense," Bandy said. "We trusted the people who need to get the basketball in the right spots."

Neither team scored for the first 3:47 of the final period.

Brooks made two free throws to give his squad a four-point lead, but Westmoreland pulled back to within a point when senior point guard Dawson Mitchell made 1 of 2 free throws with 3:08 remaining.

The margin fluctuated between one and three points for the next two-plus minutes.

Brooks tossed in two more free throws at the 1:35 mark to recreate a three-point margin.

Eagle senior guard Kirby Bickerton launched a potentially-tying 3-pointer with 20 seconds remaining that circled the inside of the rim before rolling out. Westmoreland's Kamyrn Eden actually grabbed the offensive rebound, but Tiger junior Isaac Meador stepped in front of Eden's pass for a steal and was fouled. Meador made both free throws to create a five-point margin.

"I feel like everybody is nervous (in the final minutes) … but it's fun," Brooks said. "You make a big shot. They miss a shot. Both crowds are the loudest they've been. It's fun."

Brooks made two more free throws with 3.6 showing to help seal the win.

The Tigers were 11 of 14 at the free-throw line.

Hale provided 13 points and six rebounds.

"We needed it a lot," Bandy said of the win. "It was good to start the new year off right. I think we are making a turn.

"We want to make people work harder to beat us, and the boys have adapted to that. It's been good."

Mitchell and Bickerton led Westmoreland offensively with 13 and 12 points, respectively.

Macon County completed a sweep of the season series, having captured a 49-44 victory when the two teams played in Lafayette on Nov. 25.

Macon County boys 45, Westmoreland 42

MACON COUNTY (45) – Braydee Brooks 28, Noah Hale 13, Isaac Meador 2, Lake Reid 2.

WESTMORELAND (42) – Dawson Mitchell 13, Kirby Bickerton 12, Ryker Hodge 8, Kamryn Eden 3, Collin Casteel 2, Trace Holmes 2, Carter Penick 2.

Half: 23-19, Westmoreland. Three-point goals: Macon County 6 (Brooks 4, Hale 2), Westmoreland 6 (Bickerton 2, Hodge 2, Mitchell 2). Records: Macon County 5-11, Westmoreland 3-11.