Westover’s DyTiesha Dunson, right, drives hard by Americus’ Kahler Fletcher — Dunson’s former teammate who transferred last offseason — during Tuesday’s huge Region 1-AAA contest. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
ALBANY — All good things must come to an end.
Westover’s girls, though, don’t want to hear it. They don’t believe it for a second.
The Herald No. 1 Lady Patriots won their 17th consecutive game to open the season thanks to a 56-32 win against No. 4 Americus-Sumter on Tuesday in the Boston Garden. With eight games to go in the regular season, Westover has perfection — as in an undefeated regular season — on their minds.
“We want it bad,” Lady Pats senior DyTiesha Dunson said.
Dunson went 3-for-12 from the field in the first half and was held to just seven points, three of which came at the buzzer when she drained a 3-pointer to put Westover ahead, 21-18, at halftime.
The Lady Pats outscored Americus-Sumter, 35-14, in the second half.
“That’s what we do,” Westover head coach Lewis Smith said. “We’re a second-half team.”
The Lady Panthers had no answer for Dunson or Westover in the final 16 minutes. Dunson went 5-for-8 in the second half and scored 17 points, giving her a game-high 25 for the night.
Dunson scored eight points in the third quarter after hitting the halftime buzzer-beater and started Westover (17-0, 6-0 Region 1-AAA) on a 22-3 run that handed Americus-Sumter its second 20-plus point loss in less than a week after falling by 21 to Dougherty five days prior.
“I wasn’t making a lot of shots (in the first half),” Dunson said. “I hit that shot (before half) and it kind of built the team’s momentum and we came out on fire (in the third).”
Smith went on a diatribe after the game about how difficult the region schedule is — and he’s right. To think a team could go 25-0 before the season would be insane, but his Lady Patriots are well on their way.
“I’m scared of all of them, really,” Smith said of the region schedule, which also includes a non-region test Saturday at ABAC against Class AAAAA power Tift County. “That’s the thing about Region 1-AAA: The girls all play so hard.”
Americus-Sumter head coach Evelyn Wright, meanwhile, was left to wonder what happened in the second half after outplaying Westover for most of the first two quarters.
“The second half we just didn’t show up,” said Wright, whose team dropped two games behind Westover for first in the region. “I’m still trying to figure it out.”
The Lady Panthers (13-3, 4-2 Region 1-AAA) were led by Kayla Bowens’ 15 points. Kahler Fletcher, who played for Westover last season before transferring to Americus, was held to six points in her return.
Wright also wondered about the officials Tuesday and why they made reference to Westover’s unbeaten record to her players, and also asked about her team’s record before the game
“They were asking my girls, ‘What is your record?’ ” Wright said after the game. “Over all my 26 years of coaching, I’ve never had an official ask a young lady in the captain’s ring, ‘What is your record?’ Why would you ask that?”
Westover, ranked No. 4 in Class AAA, next plays at Worth County on Friday. Americus-Sumter plays host to Monroe on Friday.
WESTOVER BOYS 62, AMERICUS-SUMTER 60: Westover’s Kyle Baker hit two big 3s at the end to save the Patriots and end a two-game losing streak. Baker’s second triple in back-to-back possessions gave the Patriots a 59-55 lead over the Panthers with 2:31 to play.
“I was glad to see him step up (Tuesday night),” Westover head coach Dallis Smith said of Baker’s big shots down the stretch. Baker finished with nine points in the win.
Americus-Sumter (6-10, 2-4 Region 1-AAA) wouldn’t go away, though. Xavier Willis, who scored a game-high 18 points, drained his own 3-pointer with 12 seconds to play to cut the lead to 61-60. Willis’ shot followed a crazy sequence on the previous possession that ended with Brandon Hudson scoring on a layup after Greg Hall’s steal that kept Westover ahead, 61-57, with 33 seconds left.
T.J. Cromer, who scored 14 for the Patriots, hit one free throw and got his own rebound with three seconds left to seal the win. Hudson had 10 points, seven boards and two steals for Westover (11-5, 5-1 Region 1-AAA).
Smith, though, was still unhappy with his team’s play.
“We’re just not playing good defense right now,” he said. “We’re taking people for granted and we’re not coming to play every night. I’m challenging them from here on out. Somebody’s going to have to play some defense.”
The Panthers also got 15 points from Shaquille Dean and 12 from Jakorski Swanson in the loss.