Redhawks have hot hand, cruise to first round win

BLYTHEWOOD – In a 77-56 first-round victory over Lakewood in the Class 4A playoffs, the Westwood boys had a first quarter like no other: 7 3-pointers, 12 Lakewood turnovers, and a cruise to a 32-7 lead.

“Anytime when you make shots whether they’re 3s or not, that’s a plus,” Westwood head coach Ty Baumgardner said. “But that first quarter, wow. That’s how we looked early in the season in the Bahamas. We shot it really well tonight.”

Bre’on Lewis

Noting the rest of the game, where the Lakewood offense mounted a significant comeback, Baumgardner was not so amazed. The Gators rallied to within 16 points of tying the game midway through the third quarter.

“You can’t have those kinds of lapses in the state tournament,” Baumgardner said. “It’s a one-and-done situation. We weathered that little spurt there, and we pushed it back up to 20, but still you just can’t have those energy lapses at this point in the season.”

Westwood (25-1), the No.2 seed coming out of Region 3-4A, will travel to Greenville Saturday. The Red Raiders beat Daniel 52-38 Wednesday night to advance.

For the Redhawks, Russell Jones Jr. led the way with 21 points. Bre’On Lewis had 20 points and Tyrell Huff had 11.

Nazir Andino finished the night with 23 points to lead the Gators. Juwan Perdue contributed 13.

Lakewood finishes the season 10-13.

“My hat’s off to Westwood, they did a really good job,” Lakewood head coach Bryan Brown said. “They were prepared to play. It’s hard to beat a team when they’re hitting shots like that at a high percentage. That kind of got us in a funk early.”

Just as Westwood unleashed its up-tempo attack on the tipoff, Lakewood’s offense stalled. The Gators couldn’t find any routes inside and repeatedly took aim from the 3-point line. Lakewood was just 1-for-6 from behind that line, and made two other baskets.

Meanwhile, the Redhawks could do no wrong. They took advantage of 12 Gators turnovers, and four out of five starters drained a 3-pointer by the four-minute mark of the game.

The Redhawks continued the assault into the second quarter, eventually building a 35-point, 43-8 lead on the Gators.

Nazir Andino’s basket in the paint at the 4:29 mark of the second was the point at which the Lakewood offense woke up. From there, the Gators finished the half on an 11-2 run.

When the second half opened and with Westwood holding a 45-19 lead, Lakewood mounted a 14-4 scoring run to get within 16 points of the Redhawks four minutes into the period.

When Perdue completed a 3-point play that got the Gators to within 49-33, that was as close as Lakewood could come to accomplishing a monumental upset.

“Third quarter they came out with a completely different attitude,” Baumgardner said. “Perdue looked possessed. They had a different energy, and we didn’t, and it showed. Their crowd got into it and they fed off of that.”

Westwood hunkered down on defense and finished out the third quarter with an 11-4 run to make it 60-37 Redhawks.

With the home team’s starters staying on the bench throughout the fourth, Lakewood outscored Westwood 19-17.

Baumgardner said he was pleased to see his team cool down the rally and keep the lead into double digits, but he’s concerned about the energy loss in the middle of games. Especially so, since Westwood has to hit the road to play Greenville, which improved to 25-3 with the win over the Lions, and was 10-0 in Region 2.

“We’re going to be going into a tough environment and we need to be ready to play for four quarters,” said Baumgardner, whose team under former coach Jeff DiBattisto beat the Red Raiders 61-57 in overtime on the road in the second round.

“They’re very good,” he added. “They’ve got a good point guard in Dorian Williams, they’ve got a couple of big kids inside that are bruisers. They like to play a little bit like we do in terms of pace. It’s gonna be a good game and like I said, we’ve got to be ready to play.”

Westwood 77, Lakewood 56

Lakewood – 7-12-18-19 – 56

Westwood – 32-13-15-17 – 77

LHS: Nazir Andino 23, Juwan Perdue 13, Rodriguez 9, Melton 3, Jones 3, Hodge 3, Stevens 2.

WHS: Russell Jones Jr. 21, Ta’Jay Dunlap 20, Tyrell Huff 11, Turner 9, Watson 4, Wormack 4, Lewis 4, Horn 2, Green 2.

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