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Monroe girls maintain lead, top Westover

Monroe’s Cedriania Waters (25) is fouled by Westover’s Kayla Howard (10) in the first quarter on Saturday at the Albany Civic Center. (Staff Photo: Tim Morse)

Monroe’s Cedriania Waters (25) is fouled by Westover’s Kayla Howard (10) in the first quarter on Saturday at the Albany Civic Center. (Staff Photo: Tim Morse)

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Monroe’s Fantaza Stroud (20) knocks the ball away from Westover’s Mykesa Smith (33) in the first quarter on Saturday at the Albany Civic Center. (Staff Photo: Tim Morse)

ALBANY — Lynsey Washington found an open look, then launched a 3-pointer from the right wing that swished the net, giving the Monroe girls basketball team some breathing room.

Then with Westover fighting to get back into the game, Washington drilled another at the 2:28 mark to open up a nine-point advantage, propelling Monroe to a 37-32 victory over Westover in a key Region 1-AAAA girls contest at the Albany Civic Center on Saturday.

With the victory, the first-place Lady Tornadoes (13-4, 8-0 Region 1-AAAA) opened up a two-game lead in the region standings at the halfway point in the season.

“She did give us a little spark because we had been playing flat,” Cheeks said of Washington’s 3-pointer to open the final quarter. “We’ll take a win any day. There’s still a long way to go. We’ve got to keep working to get better.”

It was a tight game between the two as they traded leads and baskets until Herald Super 6er Key Key Price drilled an 18-foot jump shot that hit the front of the rim, then fell through as time expired ending the third quarter. Monroe led 23-20, then Washington opened the final quarter with her 3-pointer.

After playing sluggishly for the first three quarter, Monroe turned things up in the final quarter.

Cheeks didn’t want to sound superstitious after the game, but she said her team doesn’t play well in the Civic Center.

“There’s something about the Civic Center, I don’t know what it is, but we don’t play well here for some reason,” she said.

Her team played well enough to cool off a hot Westover team that could have pulled within a game of first place in the region standings with a victory.

The Lady Patriots (12-4, 4-3) got off quickly, leading throughout much of the first quarter. But Cekeya Mack sank a turnaround jumper with 59 seconds left to give the Lady Tornadoes the lead at 12-10. Westover tied the score several times but never led again.

One of the downfalls for Westover was poor free throw shooting as the Lady Patriots converted just 12 of 23.

“This was a big game, and I thought both teams played hard,” Westover coach Lewis Smith said. “We didn’t shoot well from the free throw line and didn’t break the press well late. Monroe did a good job closing the game out.”

Mack led Monroe with 11 points, while Price added seven. Westover got 20 points from Au Bre’ Ana Moore.