The Westwood girls basketball team felt like it let one slip away three weeks ago in a top-10 showdown with first place in Region 3-4A on the line against South Pointe.
The Redhawks wasted a fourth quarter lead in falling by four on the road. Things were progressing about the same way in the rematch Tuesday night until third-ranked Westwood closed the third quarter with a signature run and carried it over into the fourth quarter for a dominating 73-55 victory over the No. 2 ranked Stallions.
The teams are tied atop the region standings with an 8-1 record with one game remaining. If they finished tied, the Redhawks own the tiebreaker by virtue of the 18-point victory. The first tiebreaker in point differential in the head-to-head-matchup.
“We’re in the driver’s seat. We like being there. We control our own destiny,” Westwood coach Gregory Bauldrick said.
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St. John’s signee and senior Unique Drake said winning the region was the first goal of the season.
“It’s a major deal for us because at the beginning of the season, we wanted to be region champs,” she said. “Beating South Pointe like we did gave us what we wanted. We have one more game to close it out.”
Drake and Nyah Leveretter led the charge both offensively and defensively. They each scored 19 points with Leveretter adding 11 rebounds and two blocks to go along with several altered shots. The Stallions tried to slow Drake with a box-and-one defense, but she was able to get shots as well as set up the Redhawks offense in the half-court.
Malayziah Etheredge added 16 points and Maliyah Lockett chipped in with 13 points.
“I’m not sure why they would use a box-and-one on Drake with this group because so many of our kids can score,” Bauldrick said. “That allowed the other kids to attack and we responded the way we needed to.”
Westwood (20-5, 8-1) led 29-28 at the half and saw South Pointe take the lead early in the third quarter on a few occasions. A 10-0 run gave the Redhawks a 43-34 lead, but South Pointe responded with a 7-0 run.
Westwood then bridged the third and fourth quarters with a 14-2 spurt that gave the Redhawks a 57-43 lead with 5:38 remaining. The closest the Stallions would get the rest of the way was 10 points. Drake, Etheredge, and Leveretter scored all 14 points during the run.
“Defensively, I thought we played very, very well,” Bauldrick said. “As long as we play with that intensity, that kind of communication, I will take my chances against anybody. “We had a couple of miscues that gave them confidence and allowed them to make a run. We settled down after a time out and weathered that storm until we could get back into what we wanted to do.”
In the boys game, Westwood got 15 points from Ta’jay Dunlap and 14 from Russell Jones Jr. for a 63-45 win over South Pointe. The victory sets up Friday night’s showdown between second-ranked Westwood and top-ranked Ridge View at Westwood.
Ridge View won the first meeting 79-64.
SP – Trinity Adams 16, Jamia Blake 12, McCullough 9, Neal 8, Gilmore 3, Gaiton 3, Lane 2, Jamerson 2. W – Unique Drake 19, Nyah Leveretter 19, Malayziah Etheredge 16, Maliyah Lockett 13, McCant 4, Frederick 2.
SP – Petilla 9, Ross 8, Peterson 8, Hardin 2, Pendergrass 4, Burris 2, Wilson 4, Williams 2, Frazier 4, Hicklin 2. W – Ta’Jay Dunlap 15, Russell Jones 14, Huff 9, Wormack 9, Turner 4, Green 4, Lewis 2, Watson 2, Savage 2, Horn 2.