Westover’s Michael Green (1) defends Worth County’s Dontate Cooper (22) in the second quarter Tuesday night at Worth County High School. (Staff Photo: Tim Morse)
SYLVESTER — When Alec Williams drove the lane uncontested and sank a layup with six seconds left in the third quarter, one had to figure it was over for the Worth County Rams.
In a matchup between the Herald’s top two teams as well as the top two teams in the Region 1-AAAA standings, No. 2 Westover ripped No. 1 Worth, 58-42, in its own gymnasium Tuesday night, setting up a fight for the regular-season title with less than a week remaining in the season.
Westover let the rest of the region know it will have a say-so in the outcome.
“We wanted to show everybody that Westover hasn’t went anywhere,” said CJ Davis, who finished with 11 points. “We’re still here.”
The Patriots rolled out to a big lead early and coasted to an easy win in a game that had all the makings of postseason basketball. The only time Worth made it close was when it opened the third quarter with two quick buckets to trim the double-figure deficit to 10 points.
Westover went to a 1-2-2 matchup defense, forcing the Rams to the perimeter. When Worth’s shots failed, the Patriots hogged the paint inside and limited them to just one shot on most trips down the floor.
The Rams (19-5, 10-3 Region 1-AAAA) never seemed to be in sync after falling behind big early in the contest.
“We came in focused,” Westover boys coach Dallis Smith said. “From the opening jump ball, they knew the task at hand. Coming down here in a hostile environment, I think they played very well (Tuesday).”
Tuesday night’s loss did little to clear the region standings. Worth County could have claimed the regular-season title and the top seed in next week’s Region 1-AAAA tournament with a victory. However, the Rams must hope that third-place Crisp County beats Westover in a makeup game tonight, then they can beat Monroe in Albany Saturday night in the regular-season finale to have any chance of winning the title.
“We’re going to take it as a learning experience,” Worth County coach Arthur Davis said. “You hate to have to learn a lesson like that, but we’re going to put a positive spin on it and take things from there.”
Smith said the game plan was to take away Worth County’s two inside players — Herald Super 6er Anfernee McLemore and Brandon Moore. McLemore finished with just 11 points, while Moore finished with 12. Most of those points came in the paint.
“We knew 32 (Moore) and 24 (McLemore) were real good off missed shots,” Smith said. “Once we adjusted and we boxed them out, we limited them to mostly one shot.”
It may have been Westover’s best performance of the season as it snapped the Rams’ six-game winning streak. The Patriots crashed the boards, blistered the Rams from the perimeter and had three players finish in double-figure scoring as Michael Green had 12, Davis added 11 and Dunavon Robinson finished with 10.
Westover (16-5, 9-3) must now beat Crisp County tonight to maintain its first-place tie with Worth County. Last Tuesday’s inclement postponed the game at Westover, putting the Patriots in the tough position of facing two of the top teams in the region on back-to-back nights.
“We’ve just got to stay focused and get ready for a very good Crisp County team,” Smith said. “There’s still a lot of basketball left in four days.”
WESTOVER GIRLS 51, WORTH COUNTY 13: Westover built a 13-0 advantage early in the first quarter and cruised to an easy win over Worth County and pulled into a second-place tie in the Region 1-AAAA standings with Crisp County, who played Northside-Warner Robins in a nonregion game.
Westover meets Crisp County tonight in a makeup game with the winner taking over second-place in the region standings. After tonight, each team has just one more region game left in the regular season.
The Lady Patriots were led by Achanti Layfield’s nine points. Tiana Campbell, Au Bre Ana Moore and Kayla Howard finished with eight points each.
Worth County was led by Brianna Farley and Andrea David, who scored four points each.