GHSA REGION 1-AAA TOURNAMENT: Lady Pats beat Crisp, set to defend region crown tonight

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

ALBANY -- Talk about a breakaway.

No one breaks like the Westover girls basketball team. Just look at that breakneck sprint they ran off against Crisp County on Thursday night in the Region 1-AAA semifinals.

There was Westover, the top seed, hanging on to a 35-30 lead late in the third quarter when someone pushed a button.

Westover (23-3) was off and running -- right into the Region 1-AAA title game tonight back at Westover against Dougherty after racing off to a 63-37 win.

That's right, The Herald No. 1 Lady Patriots outscored Crisp, 28-7, over the final 10 minutes of the game.

"We're a late blooming team,'' said Herald Super 6er DyTiesha Dunson, who led the way with 15 points, including nine in the final 10 minutes. "We may squander leads, but when it comes down to it, we will get it done.''

This is Westover's fourth consecutive trip to the region final, but it didn't come without some tough moments. Crisp, the fifth seed which upset Monroe on Tuesday, led 10-9 at the end of the first quarter and the Lady Cougars were paced all night by 6-foot-2 freshman Nasheema Oliver, who had 20 points, including all five for Crisp in the fourth quarter.

But Kahler Fletcher got hot in the second quarter and hit four of her five 3-pointers on the night and lifted Westover to a 27-17 halftime lead. Crisp went to a box-and-one defense to stop Fletcher, who finished with 15 points, and Westover finally broke free late in the third.

"When Kahler started hitting those shots, it gave everybody confidence,'' Dunson said. "Then they went to the box and we were able to get everybody else going.''

That's what happened down the stretch as Westover forced 10 turnovers and Super 6er Ieshia Young (11 points), Cessily Colwell (eight points) and Dunson started driving for easy fastbreak points.

"We started getting some turnovers and started getting some easy baskets,'' Westover coach Lewis Smith said. "They (gave us trouble all night). They have a considerable height advantage, but (at the end of the third quarter) we started executing on the offensive end and that was the difference.''

Now it's on to the title game against a Dougherty team that played Westover close twice this season.

"It's a rivalry,'' Dunson said. "And you know anything can happen in a rivalry. We just have to be ready.''