West­lake girls beat Stone, ad­vance to 2A re­gion fi­nal

West­lake girls elim­i­nate Stone from 2A South play­offs

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By ANDY STATES as­tates@somd­news.com

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.”

STAFF PHOTO BY ANDY STATES

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.

STAFF PHOTO BY ANDY STATES

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.

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