Westlake girls beat Stone, advance to 2A region final
Westlake girls eliminate Stone from 2A South playoffs
His team off to sluggish start early in their Class 2A South Region Section I final at Stone on Wednesday night, Westlake head girls basketball coach Marvin Binion II delivered a short simple mes- sage to his Wolverines.
“Coach gave us a speech about how we needed to pick it up,” Westlake’s Leah John- son said. “If we actually want- ed to go someplace, we needed to do something and start now or it would be too late.”
The Wolverines, seeded second on the section, took the message to heart and outscored the top-seeded Cougars 21-9 in the second quarter to take a 9-point lead to the half.
Westlake never looked back, ultimately topping their coun- ty rivals 65-54 to advance to the regional championship game against the winner of the region’s Section II final between Gwynn Park and Largo, both of Prince George’s Coun- ty, which was scheduled to be played on Thursday night. The regional final was scheduled to be played tonight at either Gwynn Park or Largo with the time not set as of press time.
During the regular season Westlake (16-8 ovearll) had lost both of its meetings with Stone (17-6), but after struggling through the first quarter the Wolverines found their rhythm.
“We played this game with a lot more energy than we did the first two,” Binion said. “The first two games they killed us on the boards. We
out-rebounded them this game. Us playing with more effort led us to getting more rebounds.”
Trailing 11-8 at the end of a quarter, the Wolverines opened up the second on a six-point run with a pair of buckets by Johnson sandwiching one by LaTavia Washington to surge in front. Stone later knotted the score at 18 on a basket by Octavia Hawkins, but the Wolverines closed the half on an 11-2 run to take a 29-20 lead into the half.
The Cougars were able to slightly slice into the deficit in the third quarter, pulling to within 44-37 by quarter’s end. But, playing with just six players on Wednesday night, Stone was never able to climb all the way out of the hole in the final eight minutes.
A three-point play by Hawkins with 6 minutes 40 seconds left in the game closed the gap to 46-42, but was immediately answered by a basket by Westlake’s Gigi Brown that started an 11-point run by the Wolverines that extended their lead to 57-42 with roughly five minutes to play.
Stone responded with an 8-2 run to cut the gap back to single digits, 5950, with close to two minutes remaining, but that proved to be the team’s last gasp.
Hawkins led all scorers with 38 points to close out her high school career, while Mikayla Proctor and Rya Nelson each added 6 to the Cougars’ cause. Unwanted as the ending was, it did not dampen Stone head coach Jermel Escalera’s feelings about the season.
“We were missing some key people. We required a lot of our seniors tonight,” he said. “They wore us down, we were playing with six play- ers as opposed to eight. That can be a big differ- ence when you have true freshmen on the floor, but I’m not disappointed in anything. It was a hell of a season. We had a No. 1 seed. It happens. We have some classy girls. It just happens to be that we stop right here.
“I’m going to miss three great seniors. [Octavia] is that girl that’s going to the next level . ... She’s a classy young lady. My point guard, Rya, I’m going to miss her, she’s one of the fastest players in SMAC. Mikayla Proctor, they made each other better. They believed in each other. They were selfless in giving to each other and giving to the whole team.”
Benefitting from tremendous overall balance, Brown led Westlake with 18 points, while Jasmine Gholson scored 11 and Johnson 10. Janelle Fields, Reyven Mayes and Washington each had 8.
“I think we had more effort and played together,” Washington said of the difference in the team’s performances against Stone. “We just played as a team.”
“The first two times we didn’t come in here executing or playing with energy,” Johnson added. “Today we jumped out on them. We struggled a little bit, but we still managed to work together, pass the ball around, drive to the hoop and make buckets.”
Thomas Stone’s Rya Nelson attempts to pass out of a trap by Westlake’s Leah Johnson and Jasmine Gholson during the second half of the teams’ Class 2A South Region Section I final matchup at Stone on Wednesday night. Westlake defeated the Cougars 65-54 to advance to the regional championship game.
Thomas Stone’s Octavia Hawkins looks to drive past Westlake’s LaTavia Washington during the teams’ Class 2A South Region Section I final at Stone on Wednesday night. Hawkins scored a gamehigh 38 points, but the Cougars fell to their county rivals 65-54.