Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

ALBANY -- After a lackluster second half in the first round of the GHSA Class AAA playoffs nearly came back to bite Westover, the Patriots stomped on the gas in Round 2.

And never let off.

Led by Malcolm Sapp's hot hand in the first half, Region 1-AAA top-seeded Westover rolled into its second consecutive Elite Eight on Tuesday with a 75-59 win against Kendrick, the No. 2 seed from Region 2-AAA.

Sapp, the Patriots' main perimeter threat, hit 4-of-8 3s and scored 14 points in the first half to push Westover (23-4) out to a 34-26 halftime lead. Sapp finished with five treys and scored a game-high 21 points to go along with eight rebounds.

"He's our shooter and we'll take that," Westover head coach Dallis Smith said of Sapp, who hit on 5-of-12 3s. "When he's on fire, he'll probably end up 8-for-12."

Instead of letting up in the second half, Westover's Anthony Ball (13 points) scored eight of the Pats' 18 third-quarter points to push the lead to 15 going into the final quarter.

Kendrick (20-9) managed to cut the lead to 60-50 with 4:58 to play on Cameron Baker's driving layup, but that was as close as the Cherokees would get.

"Our shots weren't falling and their shots were," Kendrick coach Jacquerie Cannon said. "That was the difference."

Cherokees guard Dwayne Belfied scored 15 in the loss, but was held to just two second-half points after going into the locker room with 13 points.

"Coach just told us to keep up the momentum and don't let them come back," Sapp said.

Westover did much of its damage without star forward Onochie Ochie, who picked up his third foul defending 6-foot-9 Cherokees junior center Tim Dixon in the second half and sat for much of the third quarter. Ochie still finished with 11 points and six boards.

"We kept making costly mistakes and couldn't capitalize (with Ochie out)," Cannon said.

Dixon made his presence felt with four blocked shots, but finished with just 10 points and seven rebounds -- well below his season average.

"I thought Chris (Wheeler) did a good job on the block," Smith said. "We kind of pushed (Dixon) out a little bit and once we did that he couldn't do too much down low."

Kendrick had foul trouble of its own with Baker, who still managed to score 14 points, saddled with three fouls early in the second period.

Westover now awaits the winner of South Atlanta-Washington County in the Elite Eight Saturday at 8:30 p.m. at Columbus State University. The game at South Atlanta was rescheduled for today because of snowy weather in North Georgia on Tuesday.

Westover knows South Atlanta (27-2) well. The Hornets are the defending Class AAA champs after beating the Patriots in the title game a year ago. Derrick Favors, the South Atlanta All-American now at Georgia Tech, is gone, but the Pats are familiar with the Hornets' 6-foot-8 and 6-foot-7 juniors Nickalaus Jacobs and Dominique McKoy, both of whom they faced during summer ball.

"We don't care who it is (in the Elite Eight)," said Pats senior guard Shevren Keaton, who added 10 points in Tuesday's win. "We're just going to play hard, give everything. (Columbus) means we're one step closer to a state championship."