The Westside Seminoles came up short in the GHSA Region 2-AAAA tournament championship game last week to Rutland in part because of some missed free throws in key situations.
The Seminoles more than made up for that Wednesday night against Glenn Hills in the first round of the GHSA Class AAAA playoffs.
Westside made 22-of-26 from the foul line in the final quarter and pulled off a 64-60 victory. Head coach Josh Grube said it has been more than a decade since the program won a state playoff game.
Our motto all day was, Its our time, Grube said. Its our time to win a playoff game. If we wanted to take the next step with this program, we had to win one of these. Im just so proud of my guys that they were able to get it done.
The Seminoles (22-6) were able to do so mainly because they hit their free throws when they had to.
Trailing the entire game until taking a 38-37 lead late in the third quarter, the Seminoles were tied with the Spartans at 44 in the fourth quarter. Westside didnt hit a field goal the rest of the way as it scored its final 20 points from the free-throw line.
The Seminoles finished the night 27-of-34 from the line.
We have a lot of confidence that we can hit our free throws, Marcus Thomas said. We practice our free throws every day, and we just stepped up and hit them when we had to.
That led to a balanced scoring attack as the Seminoles spread their free throws among most of the team. Damion Ottman led the scoring with 14 points, while Malik Harden had 13 and Ronnie Mays had 10.
Aubrey McRae led Glenn Hills with 17, and Javaris Thompson added 10. The Spartans (24-4) were in control early, leading 16-8 after the first quarter.
J.R. Bryant came off the bench to give Westside a spark with 12 points. He hit three 3-pointers, including a stretch in the second quarter when he hit back-to-back 3s, was fouled on one of them and made the free throw. That pulled Westside to within 18-17 after Glenn Hills had posted an 18-10 lead, which was its biggest advantage of the game.
The game was close the rest of the way until Westside pulled away a bit in the fourth quarter ... at the free-throw line.
We just went crazy (in the locker room), Thomas said with a big smile. This is really exciting. Were just so happy to get this win, but now we have to get ready for the next game.