Maurice Dixon

@WriturRece |

ATLANTA – Westlake became East Coweta’s latest comeback victim.

Despite owning a 14-point advantage in the latter half of the third quarter, the Westlake Lions were unable to maintain control in an 81-76 home loss in Region 2-AAAAAAA on January 18.

“Against East Coweta you got to be able to play almost errorless or not play to their advantage by taking ill-advised jump shots, not playing team ball, reaching and unexcused fouls,” Westlake coach Darron Rogers said.

In the rematch of a game in November that the Indians (20-1, 6-1) won by double digits, Quincy Olivari led the Lions with 26 points (17 in the first half) but Christopher Youngblood countered with 26 of his own and 10 rebounds.

“[Quincy] shot the least amount of threes he’s ever shot in a game,” Rogers said. “He drove most of the game and was effective.”

With  less than three minutes remaining in the third quarter, D’Antaye Page (13 points) converted a layup for a 63-49 score in favor of Westlake, which appeared on its way to handing East Coweta its second loss of the season but the Indians closed the quarter with seven straight points.

Limited during stretches due to foul trouble, Chase Hunter (13 points) and Olivari did what they could at the beginning of the fourth to keep the Lions (11-9, 2-4) ahead but Brandon Stroud’s (11 points, 11 rebounds) layup ignited the game-changing 9-0 run. With more than three minutes to play, Youngblood dunked home an alley-oop pass from Stroud for a 70-69 lead and Derrick Emory (six assists) found Demetrius Freeman (nine points) for a layup to cap the surge.

“We played too tentative,” Rogers said. “They played smarter at the end and played a little more together and ended up pulling it out.”

Hunter knocked down another jumper but Youngblood tipped in a miss, Freeman made a layin and Youngblood converted a three-point play for a 79-72 margin to essentially secure the comeback victory.

“It’s been like that all season,” East Coweta coach Royal Maxwell said. “We were down 13 to Therrell. We were down 10 to Pebblebrook and eight against Wheeler. I live 30 seconds from Westlake but what I love about being out there in the country is that the kids are still old school. Whatever you ask them to do they do. They are not too cute to do what the game takes. I give credit to my team and coaches because at no time even when it was 49 to 61 did anyone think about losing. We just knew we had to turn it up to another notch and that is what 20-1 looks like.”

Kaleb Wallace played a huge role in helping Westlake stretch its lead in the third quarter from a point to double digits by notching 11 of his 17 points in the frame. He also finished with nine boards, four assists, four steals and two blocks.

“[He] probably played one of his better games,” Rogers said. “He got to the hole a lot, rebounded well and helped break the press.”

The first quarter was a back-and-forth battle, resulting in both teams combining for seven 3-pointers. Olivari, Fermandez Jones (15 points) and Isaiah Richardson all made two apiece during the high-paced action.