Westside’s girls have endured their version of an up-and-down season. The Seminoles have toppled Rutland twice and hung close to No. 3-ranked Kendrick, but they entered Tuesday needing two wins to qualify for the GHSA Class AAA playoffs and move deeper into the Region 2-AAA tournament.
The first step was accomplished against Jackson in a 61-45 win with Daisha Terry’s 20 points leading the Seminoles. Westside plays Central at 4 p.m. on Thursday at Peach County with a berth in the tournament semifinals and a Class AAA playoff berth on the line.
“We have to believe that we can win; we’ve had an up-and-down season,” Westside head coach Candice Roberson said. “I believe if we lock down, take care of the ball and just play Westside basketball, I believe we can win.”
Westside (11-14) led by 10 to 15 points most of the way, a margin close enough to make the Seminoles sweat it out. Westside, however, didn’t need any late heroics after a crushing 11-0 run put the game away. And that pivotal run came with key shots from the reserves, including a pair of baskets by Timesha Rouse.
The contributions by the Westside bench were by design, as Roberson already was thinking ahead to the long grind that is region tournament play.
If the Seminoles advance to Friday’s championship round, played at Rutland, they will have played four games in four days.
“If we continue to win, we’ll play all week,” Roberson said. “So I was trying to get some of the ones that didn’t play as much on the floor and keep the other ones fresh.”
The Seminoles’ starters got things rolling early to set an early tone. An 11-4 start with four of Westside’s first five baskets from a different player, coupled with a defensive tenacity to disrupt Jackson, got things going on the right foot. After Jackson trailed by four points late in the first, Westside did what it would do multiple times -- come up with an answer. An 11-2 run to end the first quarter and start the second quarter flexed the Seminoles advantage to 24-11.
“I was pleased for our team effort,” Roberson said. “We had fun and worked hard, so I was pleased with that.”
Jackson cut into the Westside lead multiple times but got no closer than eight points.
One of those occasions closed out the first half. Leading 27-19 with 1:27 to go, two trips to the free-throw line by Ke’Asia Harvey and Terry were followed by a Niara Dawson layup and layup by Terry off a steal with less than 10 seconds to go.
The result was a 34-19 lead at the break, and Westside used the advantage to maintain control the rest of the game.
WESTSIDE (BOYS) 63, JACKSON 41
The Seminoles held an 18-2 lead after one quarter and cruised the rest of the way.
Westside was led by Tyler Wheeler, who scored 14 points, and Brenton Cliette-Jordan, who added 10.
The Seminoles play Southwest at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday at Peach County.