Dominique Wilson took the inbounds pass in the backcourt with nine-tenths of a second remaining in the first half of McEachern’s second-round girls basketball playoff game against Westlake on Tuesday.
She took one step and let the shot fly from about 50 feet away, hitting nothing but net as the buzzer sounded to give the Indians a 61-29 lead. It was that kind of night for top-ranked McEachern, which played an almost flawless first half in a 93-50 victory.
Wilson finished with 24 points, Te’a Cooper had 28 and Pachiyaanna Roberts scored 21 as McEachern advanced to Saturday’s 4 p.m. Class AAAAA quarterfinal at Fort Valley State. The Indians, ranked No. 2 nationally by ESPN, will play the winner of tonight’s Valdosta-Harrison game. Tenth-ranked Westlake’s season ends at 23-7.
“She was hot the entire first half,” McEachern coach Phyllis Arthur said of Wilson, who has signed with Arkansas. “But we reminded them at halftime that we had another half to play and you can’t lose your momentum. The kids just kept it going.”
McEachern did have to work through some foul trouble in the first half. Cooper, a freshman who has made a verbal commitment to North Carolina, picked up her second foul less than two minutes into the game and sat out the rest of the quarter. She returned at the start of the second and scored 22 points, mostly on fast-break layups, in the next quarter and a half. By the time she went back to the bench with 4:21 remaining in the third quarter, the lead was up to 72-32.
Westlake managed to keep it close for half the first quarter, trailing just 14-11 before Wilson ignited a McEachern scoring burst that put the game away. She scored seven of the Indians’ points in a 15-2 run that made it 29-13 at the end of the first quarter, and the Indians scored 11 unanswered points to start the second.
“We have faith in ourselves,” Arthur said. “We talked about having positive energy all week long. We came in here and worked hard.”
Westlake’s Aisha Turner-Johnson finally broke the drought with a layup with 5:21 to play in the half. She finished with 26 points, including 16 of her team’s 21 second-half points, and made six 3-pointers.
“We’ve played some good basketball, and we’ve just got to remember that anything can happen at any given time,” Arthur said. “They’ve got to keep coming with their A game.”