Westover Super 6er Ieshia Young, right, drives to the basket on Dougherty’s Terrianna Martin during the waning moments of Friday’s huge Region 1-AAA showdown between city rivals and The Herald’s Nos. 1 and 2 teams. Young led the way with 16 points in the win. (email@example.com)
ALBANY -- Sure, DyTiesha Dunson had been quiet all night.
She was almost silent from the floor. She had scored just two points in this game -- this bitter rivalry showdown with Dougherty, this game that pitted Herald No. 1 Westover against No. 2 Dougherty.
Then when everything was on the line, Dunson showed up just in time to lift Westover to a 45-42 win against a Dougherty team that looked ready to blow the Lady Patriots off the court early and left the Boston Garden frustrated.
"They gave me the ball and I had to do something with it,'' said Dunson, who scored Westover's final six points of the night to put Dougherty away. "I had to try to create something or score myself.''
She did both.
Dunson, a two-time Herald Super 6er, hit a drive with just over two minutes left to give Westover a 41-33 lead, and after Dougherty stormed back to close to 41-39, Dunson went coast-to-coast and hit a drive with 45 seconds left.
Ra'Keta Shelton, who had an inspiring game for Dougherty, answered with a drive with 27 seconds left to close to 43-42, but Shelton fouled out seconds later, sending Dunson to the line with a chance to ice it.
She nailed both free throws.
"You're always nervous when you're on the line like that,'' Dunson said. "You have all that pressure, but I just try to think about practice, and what it's like to make free throws in practice.''
Dunson's late heroics kept Westover perfect at 9-0 and 2-0 in the Region 1-AAA race, and dropped Dougherty to 4-1, and 1-1 in the region -- a region that was decided last year by these two teams. Dougherty, which had lost twice to Westover in the regular season, upset the Lady Patriots at Westover to win the title, 23-18, on a night when neither team could shoot straight.
"We really wanted to beat them very bad because they beat us for the region championship last year,'' Dunson said. "We kind of had a chip on our shoulder.''
Now the chip has landed on Dougherty.
"I really want to beat those girls,'' said Shelton afterward. "I want to blow them out. That was our game. We should have won that game. We can beat them.''
It looked that way early.
Dougherty tried to blow out Westover in the first quarter when the Lady Trojans did everything right. They forced 12 turnovers and outrebounded Westover 15-4. The Lady Trojans hit the boards with every possession, running the floor and running out to a 13-4 lead and going to the break up 16-8. Shelton scored five points early, grabbed four rebounds and blocked a shot to set the tone for the night.
She had to sit out most of the third quarter in foul trouble but still finished with 14 points, six rebounds, two steals and a blocked shot.
"She's only a sophomore,'' Dougherty coach Charlene Jackson said. "She plays the 3 spot, and she can go inside or outside. She made some irresponsible fouls. We're a lot better team when she is on the court and not on the bench with fouls.''
Dougherty had plenty of balance as Jayla Hooper and Terrianna Martin scored nine points each and also grabbed nine rebounds a piece, but Westover took over the game in the second quarter when the Lady Trojans simply couldn't find the basket.
Dougherty missed 12 shots in a row and didn't score from the field n the second quarter until Amber Ward hit a 3-pointer with 45 seconds left in the half. By then, Westover had built a 24-17 lead.
"I tell my girls that the game is played in waves,'' Jackson said. "We had our wave in the first quarter and Westover had their wave in the second quarter. We came out and had the lead. Unfortunately, some kids get complacent."
The Lady Patriots were led by Super 6er Ieshia Young, who scored 16 points, while Mykesa Smith added 10. Westover calmed down in the second half. After committing a dozen turnovers in the first quarter, Westover turned the ball over only five times in the second half.
"We came back and kind of slowed the game down,'' Dunson said. "They like to play a fast pace game and we were turning the ball over. But then we started playing our game instead of theirs.''
Westover has to come right back and play Albany High tonight while Jackson is concerned about how her team will come back.
"We had too many turnovers and missed too many shots at the end of the game,'' Jackson said. "We didn't capitalize on our opportunities. But the thing is that these girls play hard, but sometimes when things are going just so they get down on themselves.
"The sign of a good team is if you can bounce back from a loss like this,'' she added. "And that's the job of the coaches.''
WESTOVER BOYS 67, DOUGHERTY 51: Dougherty coach Donald Poole was being sincere when he said after the loss: "I just want to thank Westover and coach Dallis Smith for all the hospitality they gave us (Friday night).''
Well, they could have been a little more gracious than a 16-point loss.
"We couldn't give them everything,'' said Smith, whose team stormed back from a 24-20 halftime deficit to take over the game in the third quarter.
The game was Dougherty's home game, so the Trojans, who had to play at Westover because their gym is being renovated, wore white jerseys at Westover's home, the Boston Garden.
Dougherty looked at home early, jumping out to 11-8 first quarter edge and leading by four at halftime. The Trojans were still up, 30-26, when Westover broke off a 13-0 run and never looked back.
T.J. Cromer hit three 3-pointers during the run and finished with six for the night, and a season-high 26 points to lead Westover. He was hot all night, going 10-of-15 from the field.
"He's a player,'' Smith said. "The kids were getting him the ball, and he was knocking them down.''
Cromer was also on the floor leader during Westover's 13-0 run that lifted the Pats to a 39-30 lead.
"Everything just started clicking for us in the third quarter,'' said Cromer, a junior who came over from Tift County this year.
And the secret to his big night?
"I've just been working hard,'' he said. "Hard work pays off.''
The Patriots have been paying off lately. After starting the season at 1-2, Westover is now 5-2 and ranked No. 4 in The Herald's Fab 5 poll. The Pats are also 2-0 in Region 1-AAA after wining without Friday without post Kenneth Towns, who will be in the lineup when they travel to face No. 2 Albany High.
Brandon Hudson scored 13 for the Patriots, and Kel Miller hit a pair of 3s to finish with eight points. Super 6er Dequan Green scored just six points.
Dougherty (2-3 and 1-1 in Region 1-AAA) was led by Alford Brown (12 points), Tevin smith (11 points) and Darrell Anthony (10 points).
"We played a good first half,'' Poole said. "But you don't win the game in the first half.''