SANDERSVILLE — Nobody plays Washington County close — nobody.
But that was no consolation for the Westover Lady Patriots, who saw their remarkable season come to an end Tuesday night on the road in a packed gym, where they fell to Washington County, 57-46, in the Class AAA Sweet 16.
That’s the round where Westover fell — and it might have been for the unofficial state title.
“It might have been,’’ Westover coach Lewis Smith said. “We got a lot of compliments on our play, and I don’t think anyone has played them that close all year.’’
Make that two years. The Lady Hawks, who are the defending state champs and the No. 1 ranked team in the Class AAA state poll, will carry a 51-game winning streak into the Elite 8, where they will face Monroe at 4 p.m. on Saturday at Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville.
“We just had one three-minute stretch in the third quarter where we turned the ball over against their press, and that hurt us,’’ said Smith, whose team was down only 24-20 at halftime. “We scored to start the second half to cut it to 24-22, but then we turned the ball over and they went on a 10-0 run and went up by 12 points.’’
Washington (29-0) built the lead to 18 in the fourth quarter, but Westover stormed back and cut the lead to eight and six points, thanks to Herald Super 6er DyTiesha Dunson, who scored 11 of her 15 points in the fourth quarter after fighting off double-teams all night.
“Every time we would make a run, they would make a run,’’ Dunson said. “You can’t take anything away from them. Honestly, that’s the best team we have played. I think they’re going to win the state title.’’
Smith, who said earlier in the week that he thought WACO’s 6-foot guard Allisha Gray was the best player in Georgia, said Gray, who scored 29 points, was the difference.
“We just couldn’t do anything with her,’’ Smith said. “We couldn’t stop her.’’
He said the Gray-Dunson battle was quite a show.
“The gym was packed. I’ve never seen that many people at a girls basketball game when it was just a girls basketball game,’’ Smith said. “And the people there really enjoyed watching Gray and DyTiesha go at it in the fourth quarter. It was real exciting to watch. I was just in the wrong seat.’’
Westover, which went 23-0 and was ranked No. 2 in the state behind Washington for most of the season before losing to Monroe the final week of the season, finished at 26-3. The loss to Crisp County in the Region 1-AAA final was costly. Had Westover won and been a No. 1 seed, the Lady Patriots wouldn’t have faced WACO until the state title game.
“We just got a bad draw,’’ Smith said. “But we did it to ourselves.’’
Smith then paused before adding: “I’m real proud of these girls,’’ he said. “Going into the season (after losing three starters) I never thought we’d have the type of year we had. Now we just wish Monroe the best of luck against them.’’
MONROE GIRLS KNOCK OFF SANDY CREEK, ADVANCE TO AAA ELITE 8:
ATLANTA — Monroe girls basketball coach Cheryl Cheeks says don’t call it an upset.
“We deserved to win,” she said Tuesday.
And that the Lady Tornadoes did.
Monroe, the Region 1-AAA No. 3 seed, has now beaten two higher seeds in a week, the latest coming Tuesday night against No. 1 seed Sandy Creek, 39-35.
“It feels good. I’m proud of the young ladies. We’ve worked hard and we deserve to be where we are,” Cheeks said. “We played good defense and never gave up. Those were the keys.”
Played “good defense” might be an understatement. Monroe held Sandy Creek to just 13 first-half points and took a 16-13 lead into halftime. Kizzie Coleman led the way with 10 points for Monroe, while Herald Super 6er Sheniqua Young and Cessily Colwell each added seven.
The Lady Tornadoes (20-8) now have an even tougher task ahead of them as they advance to the Elite 8 on Saturday in Milledgeville, where they’ll take on defending state champ Washington County, which has won 51 games in a row.
FOREST PARK GIRLS 60, BAINBRIDGE 32: Forest Park jumped out to a 17-4 lead and never looked back in Tuesday’s second round game of the Class AAAA State Tournament.
Ri’Chana Jackson led Bainbridge with 12 points, but it wasn’t enough to prevent the Lady Bearcats from ending their season with a 17-12 record.
“We just didn’t come out and match their intensity, but the girls kept fighting the whole time,” Bainbridge coach Kelvin Cochran said. “I was proud of what they accomplished this season. I hate to lose this group of seniors.”
The Lady Bearcats will lose senior starters Briana Wade, Jackson, Takeia Crankfield and Diamond Bouie, as well as Khadeeijah Cooper and Khadeedra Sparrow.
DOUGHERTY, ALBANY FALL: The Lady Trojans fell to Hephzibah, 61-56, after going 16 of 36 from the foul line to end their season at 18-8.
“We could’ve beaten that team,” Dougherty coach Charlene Jackson said. “It’s disappointing to miss so many free throws. We’ve been plagued by that issue all season.”
Tierranna Martin led with 14, while Quannesha Gatlin and Shawntal Byrd each added 12, and Jayla Hooper scored seven. Dougherty loses eight seniors, three of them starters: Martin, Hooper and Byrd.
Albany’s girls, meanwhile, fell to Morgan County, but no final score or stats were reported by The Herald’s press time.