Woodstock’s Kennedy Montgomery, who totaled six steals and two assists, scored 11 of her 14 points in the third period. She netted three of her four 3-pointers in the first three and half minutes of the frame and collected 11 of the Lady Wolverines first 13 points of the quarter as second-seeded Woodstock opened the stanza on a 13-0 run.
Woodstock returns to the region championship for the second straight year where it will take on No. 1 seed Roswell at 7 p.m. Lassiter, the No. 6 seed, will battle fifth-seeded seed Walton at 4 p.m. in the consolation game.
“It’s great to be back in the final,” Woodstock coach Julie Crowe said. “This is a fantastic young group of girls. They’re figuring out what it takes to get here and gaining experience, which is so important for a young group like this.”
Lassiter took an early 4-0 margin, but was outscored 11-2 in the final 5:45 of the first period. Montgomery’s 3-pointer ignited the spurt and the Lady Wolverines never trailed again.
Emilee Olsen’s layup with one second remaining in the first half left the Lady Trojans trailing 16-12 at the intermission as neither team generated much offense in the second quarter.
That changed for Woodstock after the break. The Lady Wolverines’ created turnovers off their pressure defense and the team’s rebounding also contributed to extra possessions and more scoring opportunities.
“They’re pressure in the third quarter gave us problems,” Lassiter coach Stephen Cosgrove said. “They beat us because we turned the ball over, and they hit those three’s early. They also got us on the offensive boards.
“We missed a lot of layups, and that may have been due to their pressure, but they also made a lot of 3’s that helped them get on a big run.”
A 3-pointer from Taylor Reed and a layup from Erin Braxton, who finished with six points and seven rebounds, gave the Lady Wolverines a 36-16 advantage entering the fourth quarter.
Woodstock, which had a 15-6 edge in steals and was 13-of-21 from the free throw line compared to 2-of-4 for Lassiter, built its biggest lead — 21 points — on two occasions in the final frame.
Jessica Alexander had six points and six rebounds for Woodstock, while Kindole Pettway added six points, seven boards, two assists and three steals.
Gabby Garza led Lassiter with six points and four boards. Olsen finished with four points, six rebounds and two steals. Grace Keheley also had four points and four boards.
— By Carlton D. White
Roswell 57, Walton 46: After seven days away from the court due to last week’s ice storm, Roswell rode its imposing, experienced frontcourt to a 57-46 win over Walton on Monday afternoon in the Region 5AAAAAA tournament semifinals at Etowah High School.
Senior wing Andreona Keys scored 24 points to lead all scorers, and center Nikki Cwalina posted a double-double as the Hornets kept the Raiders at arm’s length after taking a 12-4 lead through one quarter.
“They’ve made plays for us all year,” Roswell head coach Lisa Kennedy said of Keys and Cwalina. “They’re go-to kids, they’re both first team all-Region, and when the going gets tough, that’s who we want the ball to be in the hands of.”
Keys, a Purdue signee, got going with an early three-point play and took the game over down the stretch with 19 second-half points. Cwalina used her height to frustrate the Walton guards’ attempts to get the basket and came away with a handful of loose balls in crowded areas as the Raiders quickly fell into foul trouble trying to hang tough inside.
After both offenses endured cold streaks in the first half, Keys jump-started the Roswell attack with eight of her team’s first 10 points in the third quarter, making a straightaway 3 before streaking to the basket for easy lay-ins on consecutive possessions.
Roswell led by as much as 18 early in the second half, but senior guard Katie Dozier scored seven of her team-leading 16 points in the third quarter and drew the unenviable defensive assignment of marking Keys as the Raiders turned up their pressure defense to get back into the game.
Walton brought the game back within single digits with a 6-0 run early in the fourth, highlighted by Hannah Patterson’s jumper from just inside the arc that drew a foul after the basket, which gave Walton another possession. Center Meredith Singer hit two free throws to cut the deficit to seven, but shortly afterwards she became the first of two Walton forwards to foul out in the final minutes, leaving the Raiders shorthanded underneath.
Keys helped Roswell turn on the afterburners with a late layup-steal-layup sequence that took the air out of the Raiders’ comeback.
“I think we did probably one of the best jobs on (Keys),” Walton coach Karen Duncan said. “When we got small, it’s hard to defend because she can play inside and outside.”
— By Eric Single
MDJ Sports Correspondent