Redhawks head to semifinals

BLYTHEWOOD – For the past week at The Castle, the Westwood girls basketball has held the postseason court.

The results? Three straight postseason victories and a ticket punched to the lower state finals in Florence Friday night.

Westwood vaulted into its first semifinal game since 2020 and fourth since 2018 with a 62-34 victory over James Island Tuesday night.

“We’ve been here before. This is the fourth trip in six years,” Westwood head coach Gregory Bauldrick said. “We’ve got a lot of data that we can reference about competition and competing, but we’ve just got to focus on playing that game as best we can in the style that we play.”

The lower state championship game at the Florence Center at 5:30 p.m. features a Region 5-4A rivalry. Westwood (25-4) will take on A.C. Flora (20-9). The Falcons knocked out region rival Ridge View 57-24 in the third round Tuesday night.

“We’re back in region play, and it’s going to be tough,” Bauldrick said. “Everybody who’s playing is going to be tough, region or not. It should be interesting. We’ve never played there before but that may be a good thing for us. We tend to play better in places where we’re not as familiar.”

In Thursday’s playoff opener, Westwood held West Florence (8-15) to two points in the first quarter and led 38-10 at the half, en route to a 59-28 win. Miracle Branch led the way for the Redhawks with 15 points, and Makiah Thompson added 11.

Saturday’s game pitted a stronger opponent, Hartsville (19-8). The Red Foxes’ leading scorer Jazzy Frierson picked up a game-high 20 points, but Westwood blew the oxygen out of the gym from the tip-off in a 68-38 drubbing.

The Redhawks had five scorers in double figures. Woods had 16 points, Raven Johnson had 12, Thompson 11, Destiny Omeire 10, and Korletta Daniels 10. 

“We knew we wanted to push the tempo early, and in boxing terms, check their chin,” Bauldrick said after the game. “We wanted to throw the right hand followed by the jab and see what happens. We were lucky enough that they got a little wobbly early and we kept the pressure on.”

After building a 24-9 lead in the first quarter, Westwood opened the second quarter with a 10-0 scoring run to take a 34-9 lead. The Redhawks held a comfortable 39-16 lead at intermission.

Westwood stayed in form in the third and fourth quarters, and after a 12-0 scoring run that straddled the third and fourth quarters the Redhawks led 63-29. The Westwood bench took the court for the final four minutes.

The same was true in Tuesday’s action. Westwood and the James Island battled through the first quarter with the Redhawks having just an 11-10 advantage by the buzzer.

“They weren’t going to be uncomfortable unless we made them uncomfortable,” Bauldrick said. “It wasn’t so much about what they did as much as it was what we didn’t do. We started out a little tight, but once we got our anxiety down, we got back to doing what we wanted to do from the beginning.”

Omeire opened the second quarter scoring with a 3-pointer at the 6:36 mark, and nine seconds later Thompson followed up with a steal and basket to make it 16-10.

The rest of the scoring played out in typical Westwood fashion. The Redhawks went into the locker room with a 29-18 advantage on the Trojans, and came out blasting in the third quarter.

Four straight James Island turnovers after Westwood scores gave the ball back to the Redhawks, and they cashed in every time. That 12-0 scoring run featuring 3s from Woods and Thompson, a putback from Courtney Pope, and Jessica Bumpers’ two free throws gave the Redhawks a 39-18 lead.

“We got back into doing what we do, not so much worrying about what they were doing, and they did that,” Bauldrick said.

Andrea Duncan’s basket was a blip in a Westwood dominated third quarter—The Redhawks outscored the Trojans 21-2 and came into the final quarter holding a 50-20 lead.

Duncan, James Island’s leading scorer with 22 points, scored 14 of her points in the fourth quarter, when it hardly mattered. Westwood held a 58-20 lead before Duncan’s first score of the period.

Thompson led Westwood with 18 points, including three 3-pointers. Woods had 15 points and Johnson added 13.


West Florence – 2-8-4-14 — 28  

Westwood – 19-19-13-8 — 59

West Florence

Rodgers 9, Perry 4, James 4, Williams 4, Mitchell 3, Gunter 2, Harrison 2.


Miracle Branch 15, Makiah Thompson 11, Daniels 7, Brown 7, Etzminger 6, Woods 4, Davis 3, Omeire 2, Johnson 2, Pope 2.


Hartsville – 9-7-13-9 — 38          

Westwood – 24-15-18-11 — 68


Jazzy Frierson 20, Scott 6, Mitchell 5, Fisher 3, Reyes 2, Segars 2


Jessica Woods 16, Raven Johnson 12, Makiah Thompson 11, Destiny Omeire 10, Korletta Daniels 10, Branch 5, Graham-Brown 4.


James Island – 10-8-2-14 — 34   

Westwood – 11-18-21-12 — 62

James Island

Andrea Duncan 22, A. Graf 5, T. Graf 5, Wheatley 2.


Makiah Thompson 18, Jessica Woods 15, Raven Johnson 13, Omeire 7, Branch 3, Pope 3, Davis 3.

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