TIFTON — Westwood girls basketball coach Jenni Smith admitted she was scared in the opening moments of Friday’s GISA Class AA Elite 8 game against Briarwood.
“It scared me for a second,” she said, referring to her reigning state champion Lady Wildcats falling behind 7-2. “It really did.”
Eventually everything returned to normal for Westwood, which erased Gatewood’s lead by the end of the quarter and ultimately eased to a 56-35 victory, advancing to the state semifinals for the fourth straight year.
“My kids didn’t panic,” Smith said. “They just kept playing hard. We got into full-court pressure and caused some havoc and got a couple of turnovers and baskets.”
The Lady Wildcats led 13-11 at the end of the first quarter and took a 10-point advantage into halftime, but then Westwood pulled away in the third quarter thanks to Callie Smith, who scored 11 of her 18 points in the third and hit a trio of 3-pointers.
Rachel Harrell led the way with 23 points, and Perra Harrell added eight points for the Lady Wildcats (21-1), who advance to play Arlington Christian next Friday at Mercer in the state semifinals.
CRISP ACADEMY GIRLS 62, CURTIS BAPTIST 36: The Lady Wildcats advanced to their fifth straight GISA Class A Final Four with another dominating victory thanks to 22 points from Super 6er and Mercer commit Madi Mitchell.
Mitchell, along with her mom and head coach Gina Mitchell, are now looking for their fifth straight championship game appearance in the senior’s final season with the Lady Wildcats.
“Anything can happen, so we just have to play our best because we are going to get everybody’s best shot each game,” said Gina Mitchell, whose Lady Wildcats have won three straight state titles.
Kayla Childers added 18 points for Crisp Academy, while Maddie Krause finished with 12 points and three steals. Kara White and Parker Krause each swiped three steals, while White added three blocks.
Next up for Crisp Academy in next Friday’s semifinals will be Robert Toombs, the second seed from Region 2-A.
WESTFIELD GIRLS 56, DEERFIELD-WINDSOR 45: The Lady Knights got off to a slow start in Friday’s GISA Class AAA Elite 8 game and never recovered against a more athletic Westfield team.
Down by 11 at halftime, Deerfield fought back to within eight points, but Westfield pulled back ahead to end the Lady Knights’ season at 15-12. It was a still a season to remember for the Deerfield girls, who won their second straight Region 3-AAA title.
“We were proud of the back-to-back region championships, which was a true testament to our team,” Deerfield coach Jeff Eubanks said. “A lot of teams had some quick, good athletes, but we had to do exactly what we needed to in a game to be competitive. The girls listened well and did their roles well. I was very pleased.”
Nyla Perry led the Lady Knights with 14 points, while Kelsey King added 12 points against a Westfield team that advanced to the Final Four for the third straight year.
BRIARWOOD GIRLS 74, TERRELL ACADEMY 44: The Lady Eagles cut Briarwood’s lead to eight points in the opening minutes of the third quarter, but then Malia Kency and Cameron Stadler took over.
Kency, a star guard, and Stadler, a dominant presence in the post, combined to score 51 points to lead Briarwood into the Final Four and help them pull away from Terrell Academy.
Stadler led the way with 28 points, and Kency chipped in 23.
“We knew we were going to have to keep (Kency) from getting to the hole on us,” Terrell Academy coach Keith Jones said. “But she shot lights out on us. And then (Stadler), we didn’t have an answer for her. I would say out of her 28 points, probably half of them came off of offensive rebounds.”
Marilauren Farr led Terrell Academy with 17 points, and Alana McCook added 10 points for the Lady Eagles, who end their season with a record of 18-9.
HERITAGE GIRLS 52, SOUTHLAND 29: Playing in their first Elite 8 in seven years the Lady Raiders couldn’t overcome Heritage’s second-half pressure and got outscored 35-14 after halftime.
The Lady Raiders, who scored just five points in the fourth quarter, finished 10-for-48 from the field.
“It just seemed like both of our goals had a lid on top of it,” Southland coach Paula McDonald said. “You have nights like that where you are out of sync and they are in sync.”
Chris Shattles and Mary Melissa Roland each scored eight points to lead the Lady Raiders.