Springwood advances to Final Four with win over Morgan Academy

Published 10:14 pm Tuesday, February 7, 2023

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Springwood’s Eli Westbrook was playing like a man possessed as he scored 36 in the Wildcats’ 78-51 win over Morgan Academy in the Elite Eight on Tuesday.

This is the first time under head coach Lisa Sampson the Springwood boys have made the Final Four, but they’ll have to face a familiar foe in Macon-East on Thursday.

As for the win over Morgan, Sampson was thrilled with her team’s overall performance.

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“We just came ready to play,” Sampson said.

“We had some kids knock down threes. Chase [Carithers] and Chevyn [Goode] knocked down some threes. Defensively, we were just great. We played pressure defense. I’m so happy for the seniors.”

The Wildcats had to travel all the way to Selma for the game, and Sampson knew it would be a difficult playoff game on the road.

“It’s tough to play on the road,” Sampson said.

“Their student section was loud. They lined the court. Our guys were locked in. They didn’t let the crowd get to them, and they just played their game. Our guys pounded the ball inside, and we had success. Eli [Westbrook] had success and Anthony Dixon was big in the post for us. We have to have that.”

Springwood’s perimeter shooting is what made the biggest difference.

“We were just patient on offense,” Sampson said.

“We made the extra pass to where the open shot was. It was fun to watch.”

Sampson wants her guys to take the win and carry the momentum into the final four.

“We talked about it in the locker room,” Sampson said.

“Enjoy this win. We have to figure out what we did well. We’re on an uptick as far as how we’re playing. We’re playing together. These kids want it.”

Macon-East beat Springwood twice this season, and Sampson knows her team is up to the challenge.

“They’re very athletic,” Sampson said.

“We have to slow them down and defend. Our record may not show it, but our region is strong. All four teams from our region are in the final four. I have so much respect for Lincoln Glass at Macon-East and what he’s doing. We have to play our best game. We have to play every possession. We just need that intensity. We have to be ready to play on the big stage.”

Sampson doesn’t think there’s any pressure on her team.

“We’re going to be the lower seed,” Sampson said.

“Let’s just go in there and see what we can do.”