Westside rallies to score a win over Veterans
KATHLEEN -- The Westside Seminoles erased an early double-digit deficit and picked up a 60-56 road victory over the Veterans Warhawks on Tuesday night in GHSA Region 2-AAAA boys basketball action.
The Seminoles came into the game in almost a must win situation at 4-4 in region play and sitting in fourth place behind the Warhawks, Rutland and Perry, who were tied for the lead at 6-2.
We talked about it coming in that if you want to get to the top, then you need to beat the team ahead of you, Westside head coach Josh Grube said. We were able to do that against a very good team.
Westside came out in a zone defense, which was a departure for a team that normally plays man-to-man. Veterans guard Mike Leger made the Seminoles pay as he scored the first eight points for the Warhawks, including a pair of 3-pointers, as Veterans went out to an 18-8 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Veterans struggled to keep the momentum in the second quarter, and Westside took advantage with a 10-0 run to take a 28-23 lead to halftime.
Theyre hard to guard, and theyre fast, Grube said. They got us out of that zone quick and we had to go to man, and that was the difference. We were real aggressive on defense, and I think that turned the momentum of the game.
The Seminoles advantage ballooned to 12 in the fourth quarter, but Veterans again found the range from behind the 3-point line after shooting 0-for-2 in the third quarter.
The second of two 3-pointers from Elijah Milteer cut the lead to six with 38 seconds remaining. As the Seminoles struggled to put the game away from the free-throw line, the Warhawks knocked down their fifth 3-pointer in a row to trail by just two with 12 seconds to play.
After a foul on the inbounds play and a timeout, Seminoles point guard Malik Harden calmly stepped to the line and converted a pair of free throws to ice the game.
That was a big free throw Malik made at the end, because that changes a lot of things, Grube said. A missed free throw makes it a three-point game, but I had complete confidence in him. I told him, Youre the only one I want up there shooting right now, and he made me look good.
We stressed to them that even with a 12-point lead that (Veterans) was going to come back, keep fighting, and they werent going to quit. Im just glad we were able to hang on, but weve got to make free throws down the stretch.
The victory gives Westside a regular-season split with Veterans after a 72-70 loss in early December and is the Seminoles fourth straight region victory. The Seminoles will play a huge pair of home games against Perry and Rutland next week, but first they will host West Laurens this Friday night.
We feel like that were starting to play a lot better, Grube said. We struggled early in the year, but to get a win over here against a quality team, my hat goes off to my team. This is a crazy region, and any win is a great win because its so competitive.
Veterans next game is Friday at Howard.
The Veterans girls picked up a 51-44 victory to move to 6-3 in region play.
Ambria Cornelius and Kya Cochran led three Warhawks players in double figures with 12 points apiece. Daviana Harvey and Daisha Terry each scored 14 to lead Westside.