Redhawks take down South Pointe

BLYTHEWOOD – If Tuesday night’s regular-season basketball game between the Westwood girls and South Pointe had the intense feel of a playoff game, it’s because both teams were slugging it out with the Region 3-4A championship at stake.

Essence Marshall splits the pair of York defenders in last week’s game. | Leroy Howard

The Stallions came into the Westwood gym unbeaten in region play and atop the standings. The Redhawks’ only region defeat came at South Pointe two weeks ago, and were itching to even the score.

With Nyah Leveretter’s backcourt play and Unique Drake’s ball handling, the Redhawks dominated the turnover-prone Stallions and secured the driver’s seat in a region title with a 73-55 victory.

“We like where we are. We control our own destiny,” Westwood head coach Gregory Bauldrick said. “Defensively I felt we played very, very well and I enjoyed the effort. As long as we play with that kind of intensity and that kind of communication, I’ll take my chances against anybody.”

The win places both South Pointe (22-4, 8-1) and Westwood (20-5, 8-1) even in the region standings with one game to go. If Westwood wins against Ridge View Friday, and if South Pointe defeats Lancaster, the Redhawks would win a share of the region championship and get a top seeding when the 4A playoffs open next week.

Leveretter and Drake had 19 points apiece, with Leveretter coming down with 11 rebounds and two blocks. Drake had six steals and two assists.

South Pointe committed 30 turnovers, which Westwood took full advantage of. After a close first half of play, the Redhawks reeled off thefts, rebounds, and blocks to close out a 44-27 second half run.

“We wanted to play fast and force them to make turnovers,” said Leveretter, who recently committed to play for the University of Kentucky. “We knew it was going to be a big game, and we didn’t want to come out slow. We wanted to come out there fast and force turnovers and play our game.”

A large part of the Redhawks offensive productivity came when South Pointe chose to isolate Drake using a box-and-one defensive scheme. Drake was limited to one basket in the first 10 minutes of the game, but the Stallions’ containment of the Drake enabled Leveretter, Maliyah Lockett, and Malaziah Etheridge to find open looks.

“So many of our kids can score,” Bauldrick said. “Even with a box-and-one, that allows them (Redhawks) to attack. We like seeing box-and-one, because that tells us that this is their last defensive option. We were able to play their box-and-one almost like they were playing man, and we were able get some other options away from Drake.”

Westwood clung to a 29-28 lead going into the second half, but soon poured on the attack to minutes into the third quarter. With the Redhawks trailing 34-33, Drake took a dish from Malayziah Etheridge and put it in the net for the fourth and final lead change of the game.

Drake’s score sparked a 10-0 scoring run over the next three minutes.

Kendall Wormack goes straight for the basket and ignores the pressure. | Leroy Howard

South Pointe wasn’t going to go out without a fight. The Stallions rallied from 43-34 to 43-41 with 41 seconds left in the third.

Westwood quickly got back into dominating form. In the final 41 ticks, Leveretter took to the free-throw line for a pair of foul shots, Drake sank a free throw, Leveretter made a putback, and Trashauna McCant raced in for a basket before the buzzer to give Westwood a 50-41 lead going into the final quarter.

“We talk always about the first four minutes of the third quarter being defining in terms of where we’re at and where other teams are,” Bauldrick said. “We got what we wanted coming out of halftime, then we had a couple of miscues that gave them a little confidence, but we weathered that storm and got back to what we were trying to do in terms of our game plan.”

In the boys game, Westwood outpaced and outmatched the Stallions from the opening tip and closed out a 63-45 victory.

Ta’Jay Dunlap led the way with 15 points and Russell Jones Jr. had 14.

Westwood (23-1, 8-1) held scorers for South Pointe (9-16, 5-4) to single figures. Thomas Petilla led the Blazers with 9 points on the night.

The win propels the Redhawks into a showdown with region leader and defending 4A state champion Ridge View Friday at Westwood. The Blazers, 18-6 and 8-0 going into Tuesday’s game against York, beat Westwood 79-64 Jan. 18.

Westwood 73, South Pointe 55

SPHS – 9-19-13-14 – 55

WHS – 11-18-21-23 – 73

SPHS: Trinity Adams 14, Jama Blake 12, McCullough 9, Neal 8, Gaiton 5, Gilmore 3, Lane 2, Jamerson 2

WHS: Nyah Leveretter 19, Unique Drake 19, Malayziah Etheridge 16, Maliyah Lockett 13, McCant 4, Frederick 2.

Westwood 63, South Pointe 45

SPHS – 9-9-16-11 – 45

WHS – 15-14-15-19 – 63

SPHS: Petilla 9, Ross 8, Peterson 8, Pendergrass 4, Joseph 4, Frazier 4, Hardin 2, Harris 4, Williams 2, Hicklin 2.

WHS: Ta’Jay Dunlap 15, Russell Jones Jr. 14, Huff 9, Wormack 9, Green 4, Turner 4, Lewis 2, Watson 2, Horn 2, Savage 2.

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