The fate of the Westside boys basketball team ultimately rested on Durrell Porter’s ankle.
He -- make that the ankle -- was capable of bearing the weight.
Porter scored 10 points and bounced back from an ankle injury in the second quarter as the Seminoles won their sixth straight, a 46-33 road win Friday at Howard in front of a standing room only crowd. The win gives Westside (12-3, 8-2) the GHSA Region 2-AAA lead over the Huskies (11-4, 8-3).
For Porter, it was not about points. Rather, it was about poise -- like the kind the Seminoles possessed when he was on the court.
Westside raced to an 8-3 first-quarter lead, then the Seminoles took a 12-point advantage in the second quarter thanks to a stingy defense directed by Porter and the Huskies’ lone big man landing in foul trouble before he could break a sweat.
“We pride ourselves on being a dominant defensive team,” Westside head coach Josh Grube said. “Our guys have finally bought in.”
Howard’s center Josh Salette, who was held scoreless, picked up his second foul less than four minutes into the game. That allowed Westside free reign in the lane. Combine that with a cold-shooting Huskies squad that endured field-goal droughts of seven and four minutes to begin the game, and the Seminoles led 18-6 with a little more than three minutes to play in the first half.
That’s when Porter rolled his left ankle under the basket and lay writhing on the floor in pain. He was helped to the bench by teammates but did not return for the rest of the quarter.
With Westside’s spark plug on the sidelines, Howard mounted an 11-2 run that drew the Huskies to within three points.
“It was hard watching (from the bench),” Porter said. “I wanted to be out there helping my team. Seeing them struggle without me hurt me.”
Porter jogged to the locker room at the break and returned to the lineup in the third quarter and picked up where he left off.
First, he drew charges on consecutive Howard possessions. Seconds later, he blocked a shot. Moments later, he grabbed a clutch defensive rebound.
“Durrell’s an energy guy,” Grube said. “We’re a better team when he’s on the court. He’s become a leader for us, and I’m just glad he’s on my side.”
Westside, which never trailed, pulled away in the fourth quarter. Ronnie Mays led the Seminoles with 11 points. Duran Porter chipped in 10.
“We didn’t come ready to play,” Howard head coach Jay Lunce said. “As I’ve said before, if you don’t come mentally prepared these region games, you’re going to get in trouble real quick.
“When the other team only scores 46 points and you lose by 13 ... something’s wrong with that.”
Howard couldn’t match the intensity of their opponent, but stakes were high for their region rival.
“We’ve had this one circled on our calendar ever since they beat us at our place earlier this season,” Grube said.
The Lady Seminoles made it a clean sweep, erupting for a 24-point forth quarter en route to a 49-43 win in the girls game.
Braxtyn Talton scored 17 for Westside, while Tommitrise Collins added 15.
Taylor Thorpe (12), Chelsea Stuckey (11) and VaQueshia Hall (10) led the scoring for the Lady Huskies.