After losing twice during the regular season to Crisp Academy, the Westwood boys basketball team got its revenge Friday night when it held the host Wildcats to a season-low 17 points in a 31-17 win during the GISA Region 3-A title game in Camilla. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
CAMILLA — Westwood coach Al Timmerman called Friday’s GISA Region 3-A title game against Crisp Academy “ugly,” and rightly so after the teams combined for just 48 points, 17 missed free throws and shot 28 percent from the field.
But he was also holding the region championship trophy during his postgame interview — hence the huge smile.
His No. 2 seed Wildcats held Crisp Academy — the No. 1 seed in the region tournament — to just five second-half points and won their first region title since 2001 by a final of 31-17.
“It was ugly, but it was a win,” said Timmerman, whose Wildcats were swept during the regular season by Crisp. “It wasn’t our prettiest performance, but we just kept battling and kept battling.”
The shots weren’t falling for Westwood (12-9), so the Wildcats won the battle with their defense. They took Crisp (15-9) out of its offensive game plan and forced the visiting Wildcats to fire challenged 3-pointers. They hit just 2-of-21.
Timmerman recalled a moment just before the season began when he told his team to take pride in defense, to ride it all the way to the top. The Wildcats took their coach’s advice and will be riding that defense into ABAC as a No. 1 seed in next week’s state tournament.
“I said, ‘Guys, we are going to have to let defense carry us this year.’ And that’s what we did,” Timmerman said. “Our last three games, that’s what we have done, played good defense. We’ve played together.”
Westwood’s Mitch Good, who led the host Wildcats with 15 points and six rebounds, was the only player on either team to score more than seven points.
“We pulled it out,” said Good, who scored more points in the fourth quarter (6) than Crisp scored in the second half (5). “We did everything we needed to do and came out with the win.”
Crisp, which shot 14 percent from the field, was led by Brett Card and Michael Spears with five points apiece.
“This is by far the worst offensive game we have had,” said Jodie Hays, whose team will enter the state tournament as the No. 2 seed. “We aren’t a 3-point shooting team. We survive inside with our height and physicality, but when we settle on outside shots we struggle.”
The teams traded the lead several times in the first half before going into halftime tied at 12-12. Westwood grabbed the lead one minute into the second half and never let go, ultimately finishing the game on a 10-0 run.
Crisp Academy girls best Westwood again, this time for Region 3-A crown
CAMILLA — One year removed from carrying her team to a GISA Class A state championship against Westwood, Crisp Academy’s Madi Mitchell was at it again Friday night.
Despite being double-teamed all night in front of a boisterous home crowd in Westwood’s gym, the sophomore put her team on her back and led them to a 45-37 victory in another classic matchup between the two teams who share the Lady Wildcats moniker. The win also gave Crisp its second straight GISA Region 3-A championship.
“This is what we have worked for,” said Mitchell, who scored 29 points and grabbed nine rebounds. “You couldn’t hear anything in the gym (because of the crowd). You couldn’t even hear the whistle blow. (Our head coach Gina Mitchell) was calling plays, and you had no idea what she was saying.”
There was nothing quiet about Madi Mitchell’s performance, however. She was 8-for-15 from the field with 10 points in the fourth quarter, but her most impressive stat was from the free throw line, where she knocked down all 13 of her attempts.
“That’s awesome,” said Gina Mitchell, Madi’s mother and coach. “The three games we lost at the beginning of the year, she could have won them with free throws. I think that has always been in the back of her mind. She knew (Friday night) that we had to make our free throws.”
Not only did Crisp improve to 24-3 with the win, but the Lady Wildcats also won their 19th in a row this season and seventh in a row against Westwood.
Miller Singleton scored 17 points to lead Westwood (21-5), but it wasn’t enough to lift the home team past Crisp, which never trailed in the game.
“The Good Lord willing, we will get one more shot at them,” Westwood coach Jenni Smith said of the possibility of a second straight state title matchup in the coming weeks. “I feel like that is the first time in all of the times we have played them that we actually played them all four quarters.”
Crisp will enter the state tournament at ABAC next week as the No. 1 seed, while Westwood will go in as the No. 2 seed for the second year in a row.