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Westover boys repeat as region champs

The Westover boys basketball team celebrates Friday while being presented the Region 1-AAAA championship trophy, which they won by beating Worth County in the region title game at Monroe High School. (Staff Photo: Brad McEwen)

The Westover boys basketball team celebrates Friday while being presented the Region 1-AAAA championship trophy, which they won by beating Worth County in the region title game at Monroe High School. (Staff Photo: Brad McEwen)

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The Westover boys basketball team celebrates Friday while being presented the Region 1-AAAA championship trophy, which they won by beating Worth County in the region title game at Monroe High School. (Staff Photo: Brad McEwen)

ALBANY — If once is nice, better is twice.

Friday night the Westover Patriots sent a message declaring that Region 1-AAAA still belongs to them.

Fans sporting red, white and blue poured into the gym at Monroe High School to see their team claim its second straight region championship as Westover triumphed over Worth County, 61-50.

For anyone who thought the game might come down to the wire — think again. Through physical play and a keep-the-foot-on-the-gas mentality, the Patriots grabbed the lead early and held on to it until the region trophy was theirs to hold up.

“It feels good knowing we defended our title by going back-to-back,” star senior C.J. Davis said. “We came out here and played our best and came out on top.”

Davis led his squad with 17 points, but the scoring came by committee. Michael Green had 13 points and reserve Andre Kennedy chipped in nine points. According to one of Westover’s assistant coaches it was sophomore Alec Williams who really made a difference in Friday’s ballgame.

“I just tried to run the team so we could win,” said Williams, who finished with 13 points off the bench. “(Winning) is not that difficult when we play to our full potential.”

Worth County prides itself on physicality and defense, but even head coach Arthur Davis hinted at the idea that the Rams may have met their match.

“Westover was really physical and aggressive under the basket and in the paint,” he said. “Hats off to them because they did what they had to do. They wanted it more and played harder. We are relatively young so hopefully we can learn from this.”

With Westover up 28-24 at halftime, the game was going to be decided on which team had a greater sense of urgency in the second half. When the Rams started missing several open looks and the Patriots relentlessly attacked Worth’s frontline, the answer soon became apparent.

The Rams once again had to deal with Herald Super 6er Anfrenee McLemore getting into foul trouble. But this time his partner in crime Brandon Moore also caught one too many fouls. And there was no David Tolbert to spare them as he left the game with a possible dislocated kneecap.

“He gave us a lot of energy the night before so when he went down that affected us a little bit,” Davis said. “We are new to this situation but we make no excuses. Westover beat us.”

Many Worth County fans were on the edge of their seats waiting for their team to ignite and put together that big run to make it a one-possession game. With the guards struggling all night and the big men limited in how physical they could be, that momentum-stealing run was nowhere to be found.

“Just the defensive intensity,” Kennedy said when asked what it takes to keep a team at bay. “We knew we had to get on the glass and stop them from getting boards. If we do that we have a big advantage over them.”

Moore and McLemore still led the Rams with 15 and 14 points, respectively. Dontate Cooper added 11 points in a losing effort.

After talking to the players and coaches the Patriots say things are coming together for them at the ideal time.

“The last five or six games we all came together a little bit and the players really listened to what the coaches were saying and began to execute,” Westover head coach Dallis Smith said. “I am so proud of the guys for hanging in there during the adversity throughout the season and fighting to win the region.”

Kennedy added: “I think we are peaking at the right time and are in a good position to make a run for the state championship.”

Smith said he plans to travel up to Augusta next week to get a peek at the upcoming competition.