The Lady Wolverines defeated Wheeler 68-40 in the Region 5AAAAAA semifinals Friday night and will face Cherokee for the title tonight at Roswell.
Woodstock (21-6) wasted little time getting its offense together. The Lady Wolverines jumped to an 11-0 lead behind the shooting of Clara Young, Sarah Aguirre and Makensie Block.
Wheeler (9-12) didn’t even score until Alaysia Mitchell laid the ball in with just 2:55 left in the first quarter. She drew a foul on the play and was sent to the line, missed the free throw, and then grabbed her own rebound to put it back up for two.
The sequence sparked a rally for the Lady Wildcats, who benefited from a 3-pointer by Lyric Hancock that made it 16-9.
Cassidy Allen’s old-fashioned three-point play, and a jumper by Muneerah Drummond, brought Wheeler within 16-14 at the close of the first quarter.
Woodstock coach Julie Crowe said her team didn’t stay on top of the little things, which allowed Wheeler to get back in the game.
“We were doing things like hanging around the rebound and letting them get down the court,” Crowe said. “They got a couple offensive boards for put-backs and a couple three-point plays in a row. Just stuff like that hurt us.”
Freshman Ashton Sutton hit back-to-back-to-back 3-pointers for Woodstock in the second quarter to push the lead to 29-20 with 2:45 left in the first half.
Young gave her team a double-digit lead before Hancock answered with the 3 for the Lady Wildcats as the clock expired with Woodstock up 32-25.
A minute into the second half, Hancock made her third and final 3 of the night and closed the gap to 33-30, but that was as close as Wheeler would get.
Young then seemingly caught fire. The senior made three 3-pointers and a layup before the close of the quarter. On one play, she cut across the top of the key, lost her defender on a pick and drove to the basket for an easily layup.
On the Lady Wolverines following possession, Young again had the ball. She drove across the top of the key, and when her defender dropped back in anticipation of Young’s drive to the basket, she pulled up for a 3.
Young finished with a game-high 25 points, going 4-for-4 at the free-throw line and making five 3-pointers.
Woodstock led 51-36 after the third quarter and essentially shut the door on Wheeler.
The Lady Wildcats managed just four points in the final quarter — all from Mitchell at the free-throw line.
Meanwhile, Woodstock got bench contributions from Jessica Alexander and Carolyn Edwards, who scored four points each.
“That (win) was huge,” Crowe said. “Any time you have a play a team that you have already beaten twice, especially a team as aggressive as Wheeler is, it keeps you on the ropes the whole game. But, yeah, this is big.”
Block finished the game with 10 points and four steals, while Brianna Lakes had seven points, 11 rebounds and six assists. Whitnie Carter had nine rebounds.
Wheeler was led by Mitchell, Allen and Hancock, who each finished with nine points.
Looking ahead to today’s championship game with Cherokee, Crowe said it’s a reverse situation. The teams have met twice before, but Woodstock was on the losing end both times.
“Any time you play not only a region rival, but a county rival and a team that is as solid as Cherokee, the girls have to come and play 32 minutes,” Crowe said. “Basketball is a game of runs and momentum, and we want to keep it going. We have to do the little things right. It’s the little things that will get the region championship back-to-back, we hope.”