- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
On the road in front of a frenzied crowd at Friendly High School, the Westlake High School girls basketball team proved its mettle in Friday's Class 3A South Region championship game.
With players in foul trouble and the season on the line, the Wolverines would not be denied, exploding for 38 points in the second half to advance to the state semifinals with a 58-49 victory in Fort Washington.
Westlake will play River Hill, the 3A East Region champion, in the state semifinals at 7 p.m. Thursday at the University of Maryland Baltimore County's RAC Arena in Baltimore.
The Wolverines (18-7) were led by senior forward Tejahne Malone and senior guard Kim Brown, who combined for 42 points.
Brown left the game with a right knee injury with four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, and it appeared Friendly had seized all of the momentum. A 14-0 run gave the Patriots a 49-48 lead with 1 minute 31 seconds remaining in the game.
But Malone knew her team wasn't done.
“We just kept playing through everything with the tough calls and the bad fouls we were committing,” said Malone, who finished with a game-high 23 points. “We just kept playing because we wanted to win. I knew my team had this in them from the beginning of the season and the coaches told us, too. We just had to get it together and come together as a team and in the end, we came out with the win.”
Malone scored eight points after Brown (19 points) suffered her injury and fellow senior Alyssa Fort scored her only four points of the game as the Wolverines outlasted the Patriots, who did not score again after they completed their 14-0 run.
First-year Westlake coach Ardell Jackson was impressed with his team's fortitude.
“We have a good team with good solid players,” Jackson said. “They're relentless. They don't ever stop fighting and they don't ever give up. Even the girls who didn't get in the game ... what they do in practice to help us every day, these girls are just unbelievable.”
After the final buzzer, the team gathered around Brown to show its support. Jackson said he expects Brown to be available for the state semifinals. She walked off of the court under her own power.
Brown said the way her team responded in her absence indicates many virtues.
“Everybody came out hard and even when the tough times began, we still came out hard,” she said. “The way they came out shows that we can go a long way. I'm glad I have these types of teammates around me.”
For Friendly (19-5), a return to the 3A South Region final after reaching the same round of the playoffs in 2011, ended with the same bitter result.
Patriots forward Nakita Gray scored a team-high 14 points, while forward Chelisha Overby had nine points and Breanna Brown added six.