By Shannon Fagan/Cherokee County Herald
It should have come as no surprise the Class 2A, Area 13 girls basketball championship game between Sand Rock and Westbrook Christian would come down to the wire.
Sand Rock swept the Lady Warriors in area play this season, winning both regular-season games by a total of three points, including a 60-58 win in double overtime at Sand Rock on Jan. 17.
On Saturday, however, Westbrook Christian won when it mattered most.
The Lady Warriors rallied from a nine-point deficit in the fourth quarter to take a 43-39 victory over the host Lady Wildcats.
“It seems like both teams may get ahead a little bit, then the other one does what they have to do to make it a game,” Westbrook Christian coach Barry Ryan said. “Fortunately for us, we did it tonight.”
Eighth-grade guard Abby Lockridge drained a 3-pointer with 55.3 seconds to go to give Westbrook Christian (13-11) a 39-38 lead. Senior guard Peighton Streip finished the game off by connecting on 4-of-6 free throws down the stretch.
“We knew she could shoot, and that’s what disappoints me,” Sand Rock coach Lisa Bates said of Lockridge’s clutch 3-pointer. “Our girls have known for two weeks who could shoot. We were in man (defense) at the time, and we just let her have it without contesting it.”
Lockridge led the Lady Warriors with 11 points, including three treys, but none of her shots were bigger than her last one.
“She shot with a lot of confidence,” Ryan said. “There wasn’t any doubt it was going in.”
Streip, along with Courtney Bolton, finished with 10 points. Streip was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. Bolton, Mary Katherine Catanzaro and Kennedy Vice also represented Westbrook Christian on the all-tournament team.
Westbrook Christian held a 13-10 lead at the end of the first quarter and went to the locker room up 17-15.
Sand Rock (12-16) outscored the Lady Warriors 15-6 in the third to take a 30-23 advantage. The Lady Wildcats went up by nine at 32-23 with 7:25 left in the fourth on a bucket by Courtney Rowe.
Westbrook Christian made its surge after Rowe’s score, and Sand Rock began to fall apart.
Emily Langley led Sand Rock with 16 points, including 10 in the second half. Madison McCullough added 11 points.
Both teams await the result of Monday’s Area 14 championship game between North Sand Mountain (25-5) and Section (18-6). Westbrook Christian will host the loser, while Sand Rock will travel to the winner next Thursday in the sub-regional round.