Westover’s Andre Kennedy is blocked by Cedar Grove’s Jacara Cross early in Monday’s game in the U-Save-It Classic at Albany High. Kennedy and the Patriots, however, got the last laugh in an impressive 80-67 victory. (Staff Photo: John Millikan)
ALBANY — With the Westover boys basketball team taking the next 13 days off, senior Dunavon Robinson wanted to make sure the Patriots had something positive to dwell on.
Against perennial state power Cedar Grove Monday in the U-Save-It Christmas Classic, Westover built a comfortable lead in the third quarter, then held on for a 80-67 victory over the stubborn Saints at Albany High School.
The Herald No. 3 Patriots (9-2) closed the game out strong, playing excellent defense while their perimeter game matched the Saints’ baskets.
“We haven’t been closing our games out well,” said Robinson, who finished with a game-high 16 points, including 11 in the final quarter.
“We’ve got to to do a better job on defense, getting more stops.”
It was the Patriots’ fifth straight win after falling in overtime to Crisp County by two on Dec. 10. Westover finished the tournament 3-0 with victories over Manchester, Randolph-Clay and Cedar Grove, three of the top teams in the state.
The team can take some positive momentum into the break. The Pats visit Terrell County on Jan. 4 before a big game on Jan. 7 when they play host to first-place and Herald No. 1 Worth County in a key Region 1-AAAA battle.
“I think coach is satisfied with the win but not happy … we could have done better,” said guard Mike Green, who finished with 11 points.
“We’re getting there. I think only time will tell how good we can be.”
After the Patriots took the lead late in the first quarter on a 3-pointer from Alec Williams, Westover didn’t trail again. They increased their lead to as high as nine early in the second before Cedar Grove rallied to tie, using an 11-5 run midway to tie the game at 25.
The Saints trailed 31-29 at halftime before the Patriots opened the second half on an 8-1 run keyed by Green’s 3-pointer at the 7:43 mark. They built leads as high as 12 before Cedar Grove mounted a comeback.
After Robinson’s layup made it 61-51 with 5:24 left, Cedar Grove used a 9-2 run over the next 2:11 to pull to within three at 63-60 when Makale Carter stole a pass, then converted a three-point play after he was fouled on the layup.
The Saints had a chance to pull even closer, but they missed five of their seven free throw attempts in the final 2:58 and were stung with their second loss of the season.
Timothy White finished with 14, while Andre Kennedy finished with 11 for the Patriots. Cedar Grove got 30 points from Christopher Fredrick.