Herald Super 6er Ieshia Young drives to the basket for two of the 13 points she scored Tuesday night during a 51-41 win against city rival Dougherty at the Civic Center. Young helped lead The Herald No. 1 Lady Patriots past the No. 2 Lady Trojans to improve to 20-0. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
ALBANY — Twenty and 0.
Make that 20-and Oh!
That’s where Westover’s Lady Patriots are today after beating their biggest rival, Dougherty, 51-41, on Tuesday at the Albany Civic Center in a showdown between The Herald’s top two ranked teams.
Thank you notes from Westover fans can be sent to Ieshia Young.
“It was like Ieshia Young just wasn’t going to let it happen. She just wasn’t going to see us lose,’’ Westover coach Lewis Smith said of Young, a Herald Supper 6er who scored nine of her 13 points in the fourth quarter.
That’s where Westover had to win this one.
The Herald No. 1 Lady Patriots grabbed an early 13-4 lead only to watch No. 2 Dougherty storm back. It was 19-16 at halftime, but Dougherty — behind the big inside front of Jayla Hooper and Terrianna Martin — took a 32-31 lead into the fourth quarter. Hooper finished with a team-high 14 points and Martin scored eight of her 12 points in the third to help Dougherty take the lead.
But then Young went to work, scoring Westover’s first five points in the fourth quarter to lift the Lady Pats to a 36-34 lead, and when Shanteria Williams hit a put-back Westover went up by four, 38-34, and never looked back.
“I knew we just needed to play harder in the fourth quarter,’’ Young said. “Our defense and our hustle pulled us through. It was a tough game. They always play us tough, but everybody wants to play their best game against Westover.’’
Herald Super 6er DyTiesha Dunson, who finished with 15 points, hit some big free throws down the stretch to put this one away, but it was Young who sparked the team.
“DyTiesha always carries us,’’ Smith said. “But Ieshia led us in this game. She just reached down inside and brought it out. She just put it into another gear. Things weren’t going well, and Dougherty does a great job of defending DyTiesha. But Ieshia just said, ‘We’re not going to lose this game.’ ”
Westover, which moved up to No. 2 in the Class AAA coaches poll this week, is still perfect with five regular-season games to play, and the Lady Patriots are 8-0 in Region 1-AAA. One more win against anyone in the region and Westover will win the right to host both the boys and girls Region 1-AAA tournament. Westover principal William Chunn has said he will put the tournaments in the Westover gym — not the Civic Center.
“I know our principal wants the games at our place, and we want to make that happen,’’ Smith said. “We know we need one more win to do that.’’
The kids know it, too. And everyone knew Dougherty would be the toughest test. The Lady Trojans lost to Westover earlier this season by three points and left the Westover gym believing they should have won.
Dougherty (11-4 and 3-4 in the region) won the Region 1-AAA title last year, beating Westover in the final, and the two teams could meet again. Dougherty coach Charlene Jackson just hopes her team is ready if that happens.
“I don’t think we came out with the kind of energy we needed to have to win this game,’’ Jackson said. “To be the top team in the region you have to bring your best game every night. We didn’t get the kind of effort we are accustomed to getting. But tomorrow is another day.’’
Smith and Westover were ready Tuesday.
“They lost by three and felt they should have won it,’’ Smith said of that first meeting. “They had us down in the first half in the first game, and we kind of stuck around and stole it from them. We knew they wanted to beat us.’’
Dougherty’s size and speed give teams fits, and the Lady Trojans play great defense.
“They always play us tough,’’ Dunson said. “They play the toughest defense we ever face, but we’re a second-half team and that’s where we had to win this game. When Ieshia got going (in the fourth quarter) I knew we were going to win.’’
Smith is just glad to be 20-0 and especially pleased with his young team winning this one in the fourth quarter, when Westover outscored Dougherty, 20-9.
“DyTiesha always pulled us through, but (Tuesday night) it was Ieshia and the team that pulled this one out, and I’m real happy about that,” he said.