The Westside boys basketball team understands the volatility involved with holding the spot atop the GHSA Region 2-AAA standings.
In a region with more parity than any other in Class AAA, the Seminoles, who lead the region with Central, know a stay at the top of the region standings can be rather brief if you get too comfortable. One has to look no further than last year to see how this region truly embodies the “on any given night” cliché. Central entered last year’s region tournament as the regular-season champion only to get bounced in the first round by Peach County. The Chargers missed the state playoffs, while the Trojans came within a final-second layup of winning the region tournament despite having a losing record.
“We try to stay humble,” Westside senior Duran Porter said. “Because this region is tough. You have to be ready every night.”
The Seminoles (15-4, 10-3) stayed in the pole position for another night following a 53-45 home win over Peach County (8-8, 6-6) on Tuesday. They are tied with Central, but they would lose the region tiebreaker because of a head-to-head loss in overtime to the Chargers on Dec. 13. The teams meet again Feb. 4. Howard is one game back in the loss column.
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“I think our guys like the challenge of staying on top,” Westside head coach Josh Grube said. “They haven’t really been in this position before, but I think they are excited. Crazy things can happen in this region, though.”
The Seminoles’ win was one of their most comfortable outings this season. Of their 18 games heading into Tuesday, 14 were decided by six points or fewer. Three of the Seminoles’ losses come by a combined eight points.
Grube didn’t have to worry about another nail-biter Tuesday after his team pulled away with a nice run in the third quarter.
Porter scored six straight in the third quarter to give the Seminoles a double-digit lead, and they eventually parlayed that into a 16-point advantage on a 3-pointer by Ronnie Mays that capped an up-tempo run for the Seminoles offense.
Peach County got back to within single digits in the fourth quarter, but the Seminoles answered on a pair of baskets by Calvin Harris to stretch the lead back out to 15. The Trojans made one final run, but they ran out of time before they could get closer than eight.
“That’s been our problem, putting teams away,” Porter said. “We just need to stay focused and keep playing the whole game.”
Five of Westside’s final six games are on the road. The Seminoles still must travel to co-leader Central and to Mary Persons and Veterans -- teams all hovering around the middle of the region standings.
The Westside girls also remained on the top of the region standings following a 46-26 win over Peach County. The Seminoles (16-4, 12-1) dominated from the opening tip and led by 20 at the half and 27 after three quarters.
Braxtyn Talton led the Seminoles with 14 points, while Peach County’s Maya Gadson led all scorers with 16.
Westside travels to Mary Persons on Tuesday with the top spot in the region on the line.