Crisp County’s Dee Dee Williams (24) tries to keep the ball away from Westover’s Denae Cheatham (30) Wednesday night at Westover’s Boston Garden. (Staff Photo: Tim Morse)
ALBANY — Westover High School threw a bunch of different looks at Crisp County Wednesday night in a critical Region 1-AAAA girls game.
One of those looks was shutting down Herald Super 6er post player Nasheema Oliver inside.
That left the door open for a trio of Lady Cougars to step up. One of those was Kayla Green, who finished with a game-high 14 points to lead Crisp County to a 48-41 victory at Westover’s Boston Garden in a critical region game for both schools.
Crisp County took firm control of second-place in the region standings with just one game remaining in the regular season.
Green helped Crisp take control late, going coast-to-coast on a layup with 57 seconds left to make it 44-41. Her bucket came after Westover had a chance to tie but missed a free throw, then a pair of attempts failed.
Crisp coach Barrett Wilkes said Green had been sick with a virus. However, not even that slowed her down on Wednesday.
“I felt like my teammates really needed me,” Green said. “I felt like I had to step up. Even though I had been sick, I felt like I had to step up.”
Westover (18-5 overall, 9-4 Region 1-AAAA) kept Oliver off-balanced inside, limiting her to just 15 points. But Green, Deletria Colson and Alexis Felton picked up the slack. Colson and Felton added seven points apiece, but Wilkes said the trio rarely scores that much.
“Westover double-teamed Nasheema just about all game,” Wilkes said. “So that opened the door for Green, Colson and Felton.”
Westover jumped all over Crisp to start the game, running out to a 10-2 advantage. Crisp spent most of the first half trying to catch up.
It wasn’t until Green drilled a three-pointer off the glass with two seconds left in the first half that the Lady Cougars (13-11, 10-3) took their first lead.
The Lady Patriots traded leads and baskets throughout the third, then grabbed a four-point advantage at 33-29 on a pair of layups from Achanti Layfield with 5:53 left.
But Crisp responded with a 7-0 run to grab the lead for good, then held off a furious Westover rally.
My’kesa Smith led the Lady Patriots with nine points, while Layfield and Au Bre’ Ana Moore added seven points each. Westover must now defeat Dougherty in its final regular-season game to solidify the No. 3 seed in next week’s region tournament at Monroe High.
“At the end when we needed a shot to fall, we couldn’t get one,” said Westover coach Lewis Smith. “Green went down strong to the basket late and that drive made the difference.
“We missed a lot of shots and didn’t shoot our free throws well. In a game like this, you’ve got to be able to hit shots from the free throw line. The effort was there from us tonight, we just didn’t have the execution.”
Wilkes said he tried not to panic when his team fell behind early.
“I don’t like to call timeouts when teams go on runs because I like to see how kids respond,” he said. “But we were down 8-0, not at our house and the girls were frustrated. But they anchored down, played better defensively and kept chipping away.”
It likely won’t be the last time the two meet again this season. Smith said the pair could meet again next week in the region tournament. After two tough losses to Crisp County this season, he hopes the third time will be different.
“We’ve got to fight our way back,” he said. “We’ve got to take the hard road. I mean we had everything going for us tonight - senior night and playing at home. Things happen, but we’ve got to take care of our game on Friday.”