Westwood and Virginia Vereen, left, will once again meet Kristen Greene and nemesis Crisp Academy today in the state finals after Crisp beat Westwood for the crown in 2011. (Herald file photo)
MILLEDGEVILLE — It’s kind of like the Bill Murray movie “Groundhog Day,” where Murray is trapped in the same day over and over.
That’s the way life is for Crisp Academy and Westwood’s girls basketball teams, who just keep running into each other.
Both kept a date for a rematch in today’s GISA Class A state title game by romping over two opponents Friday in the Final Four at Georgia College and State University. Crisp beat Westminster Christian, 50-22, and Westwood had an easy time with Grace Academy, 58-22.
“It’s weird,’’ said Madi Mitchell, who led Crisp on Friday with 22 points. “We just keep playing them over and over.’’
“Yeah, real weird,’’ said Westwood’s Virginia Vereen, who led the Lady Wildcats with 15 points in less than three quarters. Miller Singleton dropped in 14 points for Westwood as the two best friends led their team back to the state title game — in a rematch with Crisp, which beat them for the title a year ago.
Crisp has beaten Westwood seven times in a row, including twice in the regular season and once for the Region 3-A title this season. The two teams are hooked at the hip in every way imaginable — and unimaginable.
Those seven games won’t mean much if Westwood wins today when the two GISA powerhouses meet at noon in Milledgeville for all the marbles.
“Those games won’t mean a thing if we lose to them in the state title game,’’ said Mitchell, a sophomore. “We know each other so well. They know everything about us. We know everything about them.’’
Then there’s the story of the two coaches — Madi’s mother, Gina Mitchell — and Westwood coach Jenni Smith, who are longtime friends.
“We’ve heard this story so many times,’’ Singleton said with a smile Friday. Still, it’s motivation for Westwood.
“When we were in high school, Gina played for Worth Academy’s dynasty teams, and I played for Ravenswood,’’ Smith said. “They beat us three times that year, and then we beat them for the state title by two points.’’
Is it an omen?
They hope so at Westwood, where five seniors — Smith’s daughter, Sydnee Smith, Krysten Johnson, Hope Bailey, Singleton and Vereen — will be playing their final game.
“It’s a great rivalry,’’ Gina Mitchell said. “It will come down to whoever plays the smartest. I don’t think (revenge) will be a factor. We want to win as bad as anybody, and they play hard. They are the only team in Class A that plays us tough. We have to bring our best game to beat them.’’
Crisp (28-3) has lost to only Class AA Gatewood (twice) and AAA Tattnall Square and, Westwood (24-5) has lost three times to Crisp and to Class AA three-time champ Terrell Academy and AAA Tattnall Square. Both teams reached the Final Four by beating teams by an average of more than 40 points a game.
“They are the two powerhouses meeting for the state title,’’ said Grace Academy coach Mike Harrell, who took a young team (24-7) to the Final Four that includes two eighth-graders who start. “It’s our first year in GISA and they threw us to the wolves. We were in the toughest region in the state with Westwood and Crisp. They are both great teams.’’
But Crisp has won every meeting.
“I think the odds have to be in our favor sooner or later,’’ said Smith, who even had her team over to her home one night to watch the movie “Secretariat” to motivate her kids. “We’re excited about playing them. They have a great team, a great coach and the best player in GISA (Madi Mitchell). We played them close in the region final in an eight-point loss, and if a few baskets would have fallen here or there in the last three minutes we might have had a different region champion.’’
Singleton said Westwood is ready.
“If we had to play anybody for state, I’d rather it be Crisp,’’ she said. “Ever since last season we have had that taste after they beat us. It’s like Secretariat losing those races to Sham, and then beating him in the final race. You don’t know how far you can go until you run the race.’’