Thursday, February 18, 2016

Westminster's girls and boys win and advance to region championship games

Bobbi Wardwell started the fun in Milledgeville Thursday with a 10 point game closing spurt to finish a Lady Wildcat comeback win; and Michael Dukes and company kept the good times rolling by topping Gatewood 82-69 to give Westminster representatives in both championship games Friday night.

Dukes and Watson-Gayle lead 4 Wildcats in double figures

Dukes, a sophomore, opened Thursday's region tournament semifinal game against Gatewood with back-to-back threes. Senior Nygl Eaddy immediately added a third and Westminster went on to earn a spot in the finals with the win over last season's class 3A, GISA state playoff runner up.

Dukes, who finished with 32 points, played a nearly flawless game. The bouncy 6'3" sophomore buried 6 first half threes, silencing the rowdy Gatewood student section for most of the evening. Dukes has played well every time I've seen him during the past 6 months. And one of my viewing partners, Baldwin County coach Buck Harris, may have been even more impressed than I. Three times Buck snapped me out of a momentary lapse (while sending updates), saying "he just blocked another one."

The truth is the entire team played nearly flawless. Four Wildcats scored in double figures. Jelani Watson-Gayle, a junior, scored 20 points and controlled the game during the second half after Dukes and Eaddy combined for 8 first half bombs and shot Gatewood out of its zone. Watson-Gayle repeatedly beat his defender off the dribble, made the right decisions, and scored at the rim.

Eaddy and Steven Lambert scored 11 and 12 points, respectively. The seniors bring leadership, competitiveness, defensive toughness, and plenty of skill to the table.

In Friday's championship game, Westminster faces the winner between host John Milledge and Westfield. At stake is the right to host the first round of state tournament play next week.

Wardwell makes three huge plays to cap a huge comeback

Westminster's Bobbi Wardwell led a furious Lady Wildcat comeback against Westfield, capping it first with a late three to force overtime (sorry, I didn't capture that in the video above); next with a three point play to tie the game again at 39 in overtime; and finally with the go ahead three that gave Westminster its first lead of the game at 42-40. 

Westminster trailed Westfield 17-6 in the second quarter and 29-21 with 5:30 remaining in the fourth before Wardwell made the three at the top of the key with 9 seconds remaining, knotting the game at 32 and forcing overtime.

The Lady Wildcats prevailed 46-42 and earned a chance to play in Friday's championship game against the winner between top seeded Gatewood and Augusta Prep.

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