The final horn sounded, and Candice Roberson jumped into the arms of Westside athletics director Sheddrick Ripser.
It has been a long season for Roberson and her Seminoles girls basketball team. All of the down moments, however, washed away seconds after her team upset West Laurens 40-38 on Tuesday afternoon at Rutland in the quarterfinals of the GHSA Region 2-AAAA tournament.
Westside (9-18) is headed to the state tournament after finishing the regular season as the seventh-seeded team from the region.
The Seminoles beat sixth-seeded Baldwin in overtime Monday, and they eliminated third-seeded West Laurens less than 24 hours later. Westside will play Rutland on Thursday in the semifinals.
“At one point (this season), the girls got very discouraged at our record,” Roberson said. “But we were in most of the games. I had to keep them motivated, and us as a staff said, ‘Look, we can lose every game as long as we come and we’re prepared for the region tournament, anything can happen.’ So they just bought into it, and here we are.”
Daviana Harvey led the Seminoles with 21 points, while Terry scored 15. Tyeshia Smith led West Laurens with 13, while Diana Herring scored 11 and Dinah Jackson added 10.
West Laurens (15-10) scored the first 10 points of the game, but Westside took control from that point. The Raiders didn’t score a point in the second quarter while Westside scored 15 unanswered points.
The Seminoles kept the lead for most of the third quarter, but West Laurens used a 13-3 run to take a five-point lead midway through the fourth quarter. West Laurens managed just one field goal in the final four minutes and got outscored 10-3 during that run.
Terry hit a step-back 3-pointer with 1:39 left to pull the Seminoles to within a point, and she gave them a lead with a pair of free throws 15 seconds later. Terry scored nine of her 20 points in the fourth quarter in the overtime win over Baldwin.
The Raiders never led after that, but DiAsia Herring missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer that would have won the game.
The postseason may be just what Veterans needed after the Warhawks limped through the final week of the regular season.
Veterans rolled to a 63-41 win over Howard in the quarterfinals on Tuesday night. The win clinched a second straight state playoff appearance for the Warhawks, who had lost three straight and four of five entering the playoffs.
“We kinda ended the season on a little flop,” Veterans head coach Nicole Miranda said. “We had a big win over Northside at home (on Feb. 1) and then just kind of fizzled. I told them, ‘If we’re going to fizzle, let’s fizzle now.’ It’s almost a blessing in disguise.”
The Warhawks will play top seed Mary Persons at 7 p.m. Thursday in the semifinals.
Tiana Hughes led the Warhawks with 13 points, while Ambria Cornelius scored 12. Chasma Hart led Howard (7-17) with 13, and Erica Moore scored 10.
Hughes returned to the lineup after missing more than a month with a broken wrist. Veterans (17-9) led by just four after the first quarter, but it poured it on in the second, outscoring the Huskies 21-6. The Warhawks stayed ahead by double digits throughout the second half.
The Warhawks could receive a boost for the playoffs later this week. Jayln Slaughter, a Mercer signee, will visit the doctor to get a check-up following leg surgery a month ago. Slaughter hasn’t played since hurting herself before Christmas as the Bear Brawl.
Howard upset fifth-seeded Baldwin on Monday in the opening round of the tournament to get within a win of the state playoffs. The Huskies were seeking a third straight playoff appearance.