The eighth-seeded Wolverines’ season came to a close, while the top-seeded Wildcats (21-5) advanced to Monday’s semifinals, where they will take on either Cherokee or Etowah. With the win, Wheeler automatically moves on to the Class AAAAAA state playoffs.
Despite a week-long layoff from practice due to the winter storm, Woodstock (4-22) came out with the hot hand and built a 15-6 lead with 2:22 left in the first quarter following a layup from Jalen Hannah.
Wheeler took some time to get things going offensively. Back-to-back field goals from Elijah Staley and Avery Patterson ignited a 25-6 run for the Wildcats, who trailed 17-13 at the end of the first period, but took a 31-21 halftime lead.
Daniel Giddens’ putback with 6:35 in the second quarter tied the contest at 17-all, and the Wildcats took their first lead at 20-19 after Patterson’s 3-pointer with 5:10 on the clock.
Wheeler never looked back from that point on and outscored Woodstock 19-12 in the third quarter for a 50-38 margin heading into the final period.
“I thought we surprised (Wheeler) early,” Woodstock coach Brady Richeson said. “We made shots, but they made some adjustments and we couldn’t answer. Wheeler was great in transition, and their size and athleticism gave us problems. They really turned it up in the second half.”
The Wildcats’ pressure defense in the second half led to some quick baskets off easy turnovers, leading to the 30-point win.
Preston Hurter finished with 10 points, including three 3-pointers, and three rebounds for the Wolverines.
Staley totaled 19 points, four rebounds, three assists and five steals for Wheeler. Patterson had 12 points and six assists, while Giddens finished with 16 points and nine rebounds. Jaylen Brown totaled 12 points and six boards.