Even with a seemingly safe lead in the third quarter Friday against Mary Persons, Westside head coach Josh Grube wasnt comfortable.
He turned out to be right.
Westside turned back multiple rallies by Mary Persons on Friday with the Seminoles winning 82-72.
This region is wild. On every night, it does not matter if you are at home or on the road. You have got to play well, Grube said. I was never comfortable, even when we got the lead up to around 15. Theyve got guys who can shoot the ball really well. That was our goal coming in here, trying to contain them the best we could. I thought we did a good job in the first half. In the second half, they shot it a lot better.
Westside improves to 10-8 overall and 4-4 in GHSA Region 2-AAAA.
The Bulldogs (9-7, 2-5) trailed by as many as 15 points in the second half but made a comeback as their shooting found its range.
Thats the hardest we have played since Ive been here, and thats what weve been asking them to do, Mary Persons head coach Greg Nix said. Im really pleased with them. Im as happy right now as if we had won the game.
Despite Mary Persons make multiple stabs at the lead in the fourth quarter, trailing by as many as eight points on multiple occasions, the Seminoles had an answer each time.
But even after Westsides Tyler Wheeler converted a layup and free throw to put the Seminoles ahead 74-58 with 3:25 to play in the game, Mary Persons was not yet ready to give in.
A 3-pointer by Demarcus Davis and a Tra Taylor basket cut the Westside lead to 76-65, and Taylor followed a pair of Que Perkins foul shots with another basket with 1:17 to play, reducing the Seminoles advantage to 77-69.
But Westside stepped up once again, going on a 5-1 run started by a JR Bryant score, which was followed by Saquan Hines-Taylor and Malik Harden combining to make 3-of-4 shots from the free-throw line.
Both Davis and Taylor had big scoring nights for Mary Persons, pouring in 26 and 20 points respectively.
Wheeler led all scorers with 28 points and started blazing hot, scoring 11 of the Seminoles 13 points in the first quarter. Demontae Coney also had 18 for Westside with Harden adding 14.
Wheeler also played a major role close to the basket on both ends of the floor throughout the night. Grube, however, said that getting the ball into Wheelers hands wasnt the main strategy entering the game.
We didnt say we were going to throw the ball down low, but it just worked out that way, Grube said. He was getting the ball, controlling the boards and getting rebounds and when he started the finishing down low, we really made a concious effort to get the ball down low.
The Mary Persons girls pulled away in the second half to win 64-39 for their third win in a row. The Bulldogs, who improve to 14-2 overall and 7-1 in region play, all but locked up the win in the third quarter after leading 27-20 at halftime.
Mary Persons finished with four players scoring in double figures with Maya Stewarts 19 points and Keke Calloways 13 leading the way. Asiana Almons 12 points and the 11 of Tyesha Davis also led the way as the Bulldogs led 49-25 entering the final quarter.
Westside (10-8, 3-5) was led by Daisha Terry with 16 points.