Wildcats dominate Southern Prep in area tournament

Published 9:28 pm Wednesday, February 1, 2023

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After being forced to play a play-in game, the Springwood varsity boys showed out with a dominant 59-43 win over Southern Prep on Wednesday to stay alive in the region tournament.

Springwood’s Daniel Westbrook was the leading scorer for the Wildcats with 21 points in three quarters.

Springwood head coach Lisa Sampson was pleased to get back to winning.

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“It’s tough to beat a team three times in a row,” Sampson said.

“It was really important that we kept our focus and started fast. Defensively, they made things happen. That’s how we have to play the game. They got some easy shots on turnovers. I was proud of them. They were ready to play, and we needed this game.”

The first quarter was a microchasm of how the game was going to go as the Wildcats opened to a quick 11-5 lead partially in thanks to Eli Westbrook’s seven first quarter points.

The Wildcats capped off the first quarter with a 10-0 run, which ended with a Chase Carithers basket and one to give Springwood a 21-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.

The Wildcats continued to shut down Southern Prep, and Springwood opened the second quarter on an 8-0 run with baskets from Fuller, Canthers, Eli and Daniel Westbrook.

Daniel Westbrook scored 10 in the second quarter to help the Wildcats take a 43-15 lead at halftime.

The Wildcats were able to put some of their bench players in the third quarter, but Daniel Westbrook scored seven in the quarter to help the Wildcats take a 53-27 lead at the end of the third quarter.

The entire second half was played with a running clock, and the Wildcats got their bench players some valuable playing  time while the starters rested for the game on Thursday.

Chase Carithers, Jacob Burton, Akshar Patel, Aidan Carey and Ken Vu all came off the bench and combined for six points to close out the win.

Sampson was pleased with how Daniel Westbrook stepped up.

“Daniel is a great player,” Sampson said.

“He gets down the floor in transition. He just takes the ball the basket. He had a good night, and I expect that to continue.”

With the win, the Wildcats clinched a spot in the AISA state tournament, but they still have to fight through the region first.

Springwood will play top seeded Lee-Scott on Thursday night, but Sampson feels like the win over Southern Prep will give her guys some confidence.

“You tell them this is the playoffs,” Sampson said.

“You have to focus on one game at a time. We’ll enjoy this one for a little bit and then focus on Lee-Scott. They’re a quality team. We have to try and slow them down. That’s a challenge.”

Although the Wildcats didn’t get the one seed, they will be the hosts for the area tournament.

Sampson feels like the home crowd will play a huge part.

“Our crowds are great,” Sampson said.

“Our student section is great. They get crazy, so I’m looking forward to some great crowds. Lee-Scott has good shooters and they’re fast, so we have to guard them. I think these guys are ready.”