Westover Super 6er Dequan Green, center, skies to the rim during Friday’s 60-42 win against Cairo. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
ALBANY — On Senior Night at Westover High, the Lady Patriots needed a career-high from a freshman to keep their unbeaten season alive.
AuBre’Ana Moore scored 18 points, including eight in the third quarter, to stave off a Cairo High rally and help Westover hold off the Syrupmaids, 59-51. The win improves The Herald No. 1-ranked Lady Patriots’ record to 21-0.
Maybe more importantly, particularly for head coach Lewis Smith, the Lady Patriots went to 9-0 in Region 1-AAA, and locked up home court and the top seed for the region playoffs.
With four games remaining in the regular season, Smith isn’t eyeing 25-0. He’s looking further ahead.
“I want to win a region championship, and I want to be in the Final Four,” he said. “All that other stuff …”
The Lady Patriots could conceivably lose their remaining three region games and still host the region playoffs, but that’s not something they’re considering at the moment.
“We don’t plan on it,” Moore said.
Westover built a comfortable 37-22 halftime lead but Cairo High took advantage of an emotional Senior Night and stormed out of the break on a 10-2 run and cut the lead to 43-38 with 45 seconds left in the third.
“We lost our focus,” Smith said of the being outscored 16-11 in the third. “We got lackadaisical and the game wasn’t over. (Cairo head coach Lucy Baker’s) girls play to the end. They’re always like that. There was so much going on (during Senior Night), but I see why (Cairo) has been beating people. I’m just glad we got past that and got the one seed, so we know we’re going to be here.”
Herald Super 6er and McDonald’s All-American nominee DyTiesha Dunson scored on a layup, part of her 12 points on the night, to build the lead back to 48-38 to start the fourth. Sophomore My’Kesa Smith hit a 3-pointer with 5:14 to play to keep the lead there and Herald Super 6er Ieshia Young sealed the win with a steal and fast-break layup with 1:36 to play.
“They came back,” Moore said of Cairo. “I think our defense was kind of slack, but we picked it up at the end.”
Young scored 16 in the win, while Smith added seven to keep the unbeaten record intact. Westover has won 30 regular season games in a row, a streak dating back to Jan. 18 of last year. The Lady Patriots feel the pressure of completing the unbeaten season at Westover, Moore said, but it’s something they relish.
“Oh, yeah. Coach tells us all the time that every team is going to be coming at us (to end the unbeaten streak),” she said. “It just encourages us that we’ve got to go harder.”
Cairo (4-15, 3-6 Region 1-AAA) was led by Dominique Davis’ 18 points. Alexis Hampton added 17.
The Lady Patriots face Terrell County today in Dawson at 6 p.m.
WESTOVER BOYS 60, CAIRO 42: The Patriots’ controlled the boards against a young and undersized Syrupmakers team and bullied their way to 8-1 in the region.
Brandon Hudson double-doubled Cairo with 14 points and 14 rebounds while adding three steals in the win. T.J. Cromer led Westover (14-6) with 15 points, while Kel Miller added 14 and three steals.
Westover led 42-34 with 7:07 to play, but scored 20 in the fourth quarter to pull away. Cromer scored nine straight points in the final three minutes.
The Patriots, thanks to their counterpart on the girls’ side, will get to play at home in the region playoffs beginning in just over two weeks at the Boston Garden.
“We feel good about it, but we’ve got a lot left to take care of,” said Westover head coach Dallis Smith, whose team is in second in the region standings, one game behind Monroe.
Cairo (4-13, 1-8 Region 1-AAA) was led by Stacy Masten’s 16 points. Trenton Madison added 15.
Westover, meanwhile, has a rematch at Terrell County today after falling to the Class A Greenwave, 71-69, two weeks ago.