Despite losing some talented seniors in the offseason, Westside continues its dominance en route to another state title.
Westside High School Basketball Head Coach Jerry Hunter said it was important going into the new season for his players to focus on improving and not comparing themselves to last year’s team when the Patriots won its second consecutive 2A State Championship.
“So far what I didn’t want them to do is try to compare themselves to last year’s team,” he said. “I said ‘Let’s improve from last year’s team — the success they had. Let us improve from there.’ And what they are showing is they are willing to do the small things. We lost a primary rebounder in the state, but now we are rebounding as a team. We are emphasizing the whole offense and whole defense.”
Through the first three games, the Patriots have outscored their opponents by an average of 37 points and that continued Friday night as they defeated Cross Creek 95-62.
The Patriots fell behind early, losing the first quarter 16-11. Two momentum-changing 3-pointers late in the first half by Westside guard Dontrell Jackson gave the Patriots the lead and that continued as they outscored Cross Creek 29-13 in the second quarter.
“We came out with big crowd, big game, and we respect those guys, and they respect us, so adrenaline was flowing,” said Hunter. “We didn’t do anything we were supposed to do the first five or six minutes, but once the guys settled in and executed our game plan, that is when we started to have some success.”
Westside continued with dominance in the second half by crashing the glass and out scoring cross creek 55-33. Guard DeMarco Middleton led the Patriots with 20 points in the win.
“They know if a shot goes up, we train them to understand that if you rebound the ball, you have an opportunity to score it,” Hunter said. “Of course, everybody wants to shoot the ball, but I say rebound is passion. No matter who has what technique, it all boils down to who wants the ball.”
Westside began last season 0-2 but went on to finish with a 25-7 record and won the state title. This year, the Patriots are currently 4-0 and are aiming to win their third straight state championship.
“We got a lot of growing to do,” Hunter said. “They are still high school kids; we have to increase their emotional intelligence. We had a few techs last game from a few choice words, so we have to become better at that and once their EQ gets together, I think we will be fine.”
The Patriots host Midland Valley (1-3) at 6 p.m. Dec. 2.
Christopher Rickerson, an Augusta University graduate, has covered area sports for Augusta University, The Augusta Press and Augusta Good News. Subscribe to the Augusta Good News newsletter here.
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