Westwood’s Rachel Harrell drives past Sherwood’s Taylor Walker during Tuesday’s game, which the visiting Lady Wildcats won to improve to 15-1. (Staff Photo: John Millikan)
ALBANY — The points did not come in bunches Tuesday night for the Westwood Lady Wildcats, but little by little, possession by possession they built a sizable lead en route to a 58-26 road victory over Sherwood.
The get-better-as-you-go style has become a theme this season for the Lady Wildcats, who improved their record to 15-1.
“It’s been kind of a struggle as all teams have obstacles and hurdles to get over, but it’s how you deal with them and we have managed to overcome those trying times,” said Westwood head coach Jenni Smith, who has had to play some of her younger players because of various injuries. “I feel like we’re playing just as hard and intensely as we always have. Our focus continues to be to stay engaged and not take off any plays.”
Smith’s message carried the team all the way to a GISA Class AA state championship last year.
“Our coaches always emphasize priorities and they constantly push us,” said junior Morgan Singleton, who has been a starter for Smith since middle school but has missed most of this season with an injury. “We all try to get along because we are practically like family so that also keeps us up.
“I knew they were going to do good because I had confidence in them, but I was surprised at how well they were able to pick up the game and keep going after winning a championship.”
One of the players who have kept things going for Westwood is Rachel Harrell, who eclipsed the 2,000-point mark Tuesday, finishing the contest with a game-high 20 points.
“It means something but I would much rather win another state championship,” a modest Harrell said. “We all work together and everyone gets along, which helps us a lot.”
Harrell’s sister, Perra, scored 13 points and Singleton contributed six points in her fourth game of the year.
Sherwood was led by Key’yada Thomas’ 11 points, while Madison Walker and Taylor Walker each had six points.
Despite the disparity in the final score, Tuesday’s win did not come without a fight. Early on, made field goals did not come easy for either team but with every missed shot for Sherwood, Westwood hurried the ball up the court before the Lady Eagles could get their defense set. When they were there the Lady Wildcats also knocked down open 3-pointers.
“When I see us pushing the ball like that in transition I think good defense makes for good offense,” Smith said. “So much of our offense is generated by playing good defense.”
Stingy with giving up points all game, the Lady Wildcats particularly clamped down on Sherwood in the second quarter, keeping the Lady Eagles from scoring a basket until just under three minutes in the period.
“We (were) playing the state champions, and it was hard for us to get the ball in the basket because they were playing some good defense,” Sherwood head coach LaKeshia Elder said. “Some of the shots we did attempt just did not go in, but I think the girls played hard and did not give up.”
Sherwood’s effort and relentlessness did not go overlooked by Smith, who praised the Lady Eagles (13-8) for battling them.
SHERWOOD BOYS 71, WESTWOOD 55: Chris Thomas finished with 22 points, 12 rebounds and six assists for the Eagles, who moved back above .500 in the GISA Region 3-AA standings with the 16-point win.
Sherwood (14-7, 3-2) also got 18 points from Greg Elder and 12 points and 10 rebounds from Chaz Griffin. Westwood’s leaders were Collier Baggett and Jamie Davis, who each scored 16 points.