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POWDER SPRINGS (GA) – With some talented opponents on the early portion of their 2018-19 schedule, the Westlake Lions proved they were ready for the first challenge with a 78-75 season-opening victory against St. Francis at the Georgia Elite 8 Tip-Off Classic, which was held at McEachern High on November 10.
Behind 18 points and 12 rebounds from D’Antaye Page, and 17 and 16 points, respectively, by fellow seniors Quincy Olivari and Chase Hunter, the Lions were able to overcome an early deficit and highlight-filled performance from junior Dwon Odom (29 points).
“They had a couple of real good Division-I players,” Westlake coach Darron Rogers said. “Odom is going to Xavier and he was a problem all night but we just decided we are going to play him as well as we can and nobody else is going to get us. But No. 24 [Chase Ellis] stepped up for them. But I’m just glad for this first game just for momentum sake that we were able to get this win against a good team and good coach too.”
“I just want to win so bad so I know my role on the team is to give everything I have so every time that ball goes up I try to make a play for my team,” Page said.
After Westlake trailed by as many as 11 points in the first quarter and led by as many as eight in the ensuing period, the separation between the Lions and Knights in the final two quarters didn’t go beyond six points.
Therefore in the final minutes, Westlake, which held a slight edge on the scoreboard during the final four minutes, found itself on the right side of a basket-for-basket scenario.
Despite many spectators screaming for a traveling violation, Olivari appeared to hold his pivot foot and sink a jumper in the lane for a 73-68 score with less than a minute remaining. Then after Odom grabbed a rebound and converted a layup with 31 seconds left, Page was awarded continuation after being fouled which led to a three-point play that essentially sealed the outcome for the Lions.
“I thought it was a very big play especially down the stretch,” Page said. “I knew that last play would give us momentum and I’ve always been told to play through the contact.”
“I was so proud of him because he is really a combo guard but since we lost 6-10 center Frankie Anselem to that new prep school Lincoln Academy we had to convert him from the wing to the post,” Rogers said. “It’s hard for players to go from the wing to the post but he accepted that role. If we had a game ball, we would have given it to him.”
Freshman Dillon Hunter scored 11 points for Westlake in his high school debut and senior Kaleb Wallace added nine.
Like Odom, junior Chase Ellis also made a living in the paint for St. Francis, netting 21 points while grabbing 12 rebounds. Senior CJ Riley also finished in double figures with 11 points but just one 3-pointer.