Northwest Whitfield girls basketball team hopes Saturday’s hard-earned Region 7-4A win at Chattahoochee helps prepare it for the region tournament and beyond.
At the very least, it was a strong ending to a winning regular season.
The Lady Bruins outlasted the Lady Cougars 60-48 in a game that was neck and neck for 32 minutes, then needed an overtime period to decide a winner.
Northwest (15-10, 8-6) and Chattahoochee were tied at 25 at halftime, which is when the Lady Bruins returned to a full-court press.
Lady Bruins coach Greg Brown said the team used it early in the game but “kind of went away from it.”
“We pressed the whole second half, and it was good to us,” Brown said. “We increased the tempo a little bit, which is the way we want to play.”
The Lady Bruins took a five-point lead into the final quarter, but Chattahoochee tied the game at 45 to end regulation. In overtime, the Lady Bruins once again used an up-tempo pace and pressure to go on a 15-3 run and secure the victory in their regular-season finale.
“We were able to score pretty quick and cause some turnovers and we made our free throws down the stretch,” Brown said. “It was pretty close the whole game.”
Taylor Baker had 18 points and eight steals to lead Northwest, while Halle Ford chipped in 13 points and Kaitlin Wade had six rebounds.
Next on the Lady Bruins’ agenda is the region tournament, which begins this Saturday.
Northwest will be seeded either fifth or sixth depending on the results from other region games.
“That’s a big difference,” Brown said, “because fifth gets a bye and sixth has to play the first day.”
• Chattahoochee boys 64, Northwest 54: The Bruins were also in a battle, but fell to end their regular season.
After trailing by 13 points at halftime, the Bruins (15-9, 8-6) went on a third quarter run and cut the lead to six entering the fourth quarter.
“We had it cut to four points and then (Chattahoochee) went on a run,” Northwest coach Ryan Richards said.
The Bruins trailed 15-7 at the end of the first quarter and 32-19 at halftime, but settled down in the second half.
“I think we were a little bit shocked,” Richards said. “They were extremely athletic and long. ... By the time the third quarter rolled around, we had settled down and made it a game. I was really proud of our kids. They stepped up and said, ‘Hey, we can win this game.’”
O’Shea Hill led Northwest with 16 points and eight rebounds. Tallon Trew added 15 points and Tyler Baker scored all of his points on five 3-pointers.
The loss puts Northwest back in a crowded part of the region standings with the league tournament looming. The Bruins could be anywhere from fourth to seventh, Richards said.
“We’ve been sitting at fourth place for most of the season,” Richards said, “but through tiebreakers and what happens tonight, I’m not really sure (where we’ll be at).”
• Northwest JV girls 63, Chattahoochee 20: The Lady Bruins closed a dominant season with their 18th win.
They never had to keep track of losses.
Lady Bruins coach Carrie Brown said the undefeated team was made up of “fighters and competitors, whether in practice against the varsity or whatever team they’re playing.”
“It’s just how hard they work,” she said. “That’s why they’re so successful.”
In Saturday’s finale, Kerrigan King led with 11 points, Sara Richards added 10, Mallory Souther and Erin Wright each had nine and Colbie Thomas chipped in eight. But each player on the team scored, with Karli Williams, Macy Weeks, Ashlee Huynh, Jaycey Hull and Katelynn Kubin helping secure the strong finish.
Brown, the wife of Lady Bruins varsity coach Greg Brown, appears to be sending her husband a strong group for next season.
“I told them after the game that if that’s what they want to do, they need to start working now,” she said. “But they’ve got a good start.”
• Northwest JV boys 62, Chattahoochee 53: Tanner Bailey had a game-high 16 points, Cameron Locke added 14 and Andy Whisenant chipped in 12 as the Bruins (14-3) closed their season with the road win.
Northwest also beat Cass 48-46 on Friday, overcoming a four-point deficit in the final minute via Colonels turnovers and success at the free-throw line, where Caleb Branson scored the decisive points.
Locke had 12 points against Cass, while Bailey added 11.
• Northwest freshman boys 45, North Paulding 38: Aaron Ball had 11 points, and Jamon Horne finished with nine as the Bruins (6-12) ended their season with the win.