Crisp County boys basketball coach Terry Smith and his Cougars got revenge Wednesday night on Westside, Augusta, which knocked Crisp out of the state last season in the same spot.
CORDELE — Crisp County’s boys had solemn faces coming out of the locker room Wednesday after the Sweet 16 round of the GHSA Class AAA playoffs.
They still had business at hand.
You’d never have known they had just knocked off Westside, Augusta, 57-49, to move into the Elite Eight on Saturday at Georgia College and State University.
Drew ends Westover’s season in Sweet 16, 67-55
ATLANTA — Westover’s Patriots banged heads with one of the top Class AAA teams in Georgia, and fell, 67-55, to Drew (26-4, state No. 4) on Wednesday night in the Sweet 16 round of the state playoffs.
“They were a real good team,’’ Westover coach Dallis Smith said. “They were real physical and the referees let them play. I knew they would do that. It was like that on both ends of the court, and some of my kids got up for it, and some didn’t.
“I knew they were a real good team. It was an up and down year, but we played well at the end and that’s what counts. We had an opportunity. I thought this was the big game and if we got by them we had a chance to go the the Final Four.’’
Westover (17-10) was led by Brandon Hudson, who scored 14 points. T. J. Cromer and Dequan Green scored eight points each.
“They were happy at first (after the win), but they know our goal is to be in Macon for the state championship,” Cougars head coach Terry Smith said. “We’re going to enjoy (Wednesday night), but it’s back to work (today).”
Crisp County will face Eagles Landing on Saturday in Milledgeville at 8:30 p.m. in a rematch of the Elite Eight game in Columbus last year that sent the Cougars home.
“Broke my heart,” said Cougars senior Jontavious Carter of last season’s final game. “I told myself if I ever play them again, I was going to beat them.”
Carter, who scored 20 points to go with nine boards Wednesday, will get that chance thanks to a lock-down defensive effort on Westside, Augusta’s sharpshooters. The Patriots’ Frank Booker, who crushed Monroe in the playoffs with the 3-pointer last season, was limited to 15 points, and the Cougars held Westside to just 3-of-9 on 3-pointers in the second half after it went 5-for-10 in the first.
“We knew he was the shooter,” Smith said of defending Booker. “Our team communicated well as far as where he was and where he was coming through.”
Crisp (20-9) took a 29-19 lead at the half thanks to two big 3-pointers from Javoris Cooks and kept its foot on the gas until late in the fourth quarter when Westside’s Ronald Campbell drove the baseline and hit a lay-in to cut the lead to 45-42 with 1:56 to play.
Cooks answered with two fast-break steals and points on the other end in the final 1:16. Booker hit his third trey of the game with 33 seconds to play to make it 53-48, but the Cougars made their free throws down the stretch to ice it.
Crisp, which is without senior Marshall Taylor who left the team last month, expected the win and now they Cougars will get their shot at the Final Four which eluded them a year ago. Senior point guard D.J. Jackson was already thinking about it after the Sweet 16 win.
“We’re focused on state,” said Jackson, who scored 19 points in the win. “We’re just trying to reach our goal.”
Campbell led the Patriots (25-5) with 18 points, while Cooks added 13 in the Cougars’ win. Crisp County, the top seed from Region 1-AAA, will face a Region 4-AAA No. 2 seeded Eagles Landing team that upended No. 1 seed Central, Macon on Wednesday out of Region 2-AAA.
“Everybody’s got the same goal and that’s the jewelry,” said Carter, who is headed to the University of Miami on a football scholarship.
Westside, Augusta girls 43, Crisp County girls 42: Crisp County’s girls went 2-for-9 at the foul line in the fourth quarter and couldn’t hang onto a 14-point second-half lead, falling short of returning to the Elite Eight for a second year in a row.
Lady Cougars sophomore center Nasheema Oliver had a shot to win it on an inbounds pass with 1.2 seconds to play, but it went wide after some contact on the shot. Oliver said she was fouled on the play, but admitted Crisp’s downfall in the second half was a letdown on defense.
“We should have played more defense,” said Oliver, who scored 17 points to go with seven boards. “I guess we kind of got tired a little bit.”
The Lady Patriots tied the game at 40-40 with 2:08 to play on Azia Gibson’s layup after trailing the entire game. Oliver hit two free throws to retake the lead, but Gibson followed with another lay-in to knot it up again before Jahmia Bradley sank 1-of-2 free throws to go up 43-42 with 17 seconds left.
Crisp sophomore Kayla Green, who nearly had a steal on the previous possession but fouled Bradley, had a 3-point look with four seconds left but missed. The ball deflected off a Westside player, setting up the final inbounds pass and shot from Oliver that ended the Lady Cougars’ season.
“We got lucky,” Westside head coach Ivory Hugee said. “The ball bounced our way at the end. We feel like we’re a little bit better at the end because of our conditioning. We felt like if we could keep it close we had a chance.”
Crisp County (18-11) got 17 points, seven rebounds and two steals from senior Keidra Green in her final game. The Lady Patriots (21-7) were led by Bradley’s 17 points and four steals. Gibson added 13 points and nine rebounds.
Westside, Augusta will now play Hephzibah, which defeated Dougherty on Tuesday, in the Elite Eight at 7 p.m. in Milledgeville on Saturday.