By Michael Kinney
The Moore American
MOORE — When Westmoore and Southmoore faced off more than a month ago, the SaberCats rolled over the Jaguars by 17 points. And in truth, the game wasn’t that close.
The Jags had their final shot of the regular season to take down their rival when they traveled across town to SMH on Friday. For a half, they looked like they might have a chance to knock off the state’s No. 4 team. But once again the ’Cats cruised to a 70-41 victory.
The SaberCats improved to 16-3 on the season and with four games left, they are still undefeated in non-tournament games and have yet to lose a game at home.
“Coming off last year at 12-13, I would have never had imagined we would be undefeated in conference,” Southmoore senior Kyra Gilbert said. “Coach has really pushed us and brought out all that we can give.”
But that was not the case in the first quarter when the two teams were battling each other and exchanging leads. Westmoore held a one-point lead when the period ended.
With the Jags trailing 19-16 in the second quarter, freshman sensation Ashley Gomez ran into the wall going for a loose ball. She had to be led off the court with 5:36 left in the first half. She returned to the bench a few minutes later applying ice to her head but didn’t re-enter the game.
Westmoore’s offense had been built around the talents of their young backcourt comprised of Gomez and Sydney Chastain. With Gomez out of the game, the Jags had to find other scoring options.
Westmoore (7-11) turned to its post trio of Victoria Lay, Kaci Richardson and Callie Palmer to try and keep the game close. Westmoore ran its offense through them and it led to open shots for Megan Roberts and Shayla Lucas.
The Jaguars trailed 31-23 at halftime.
“I feel like we came in a little sluggish, a little tired in the first half and Westmoore came out to play hard,” Southmoore coach Britney Kannady-Sayes said.
However, the SaberCats defense intensified in the third period. The pressure led to Westmoore turnovers and difficult shots. It took only 1:30 for the ’Cats’ lead to balloon to 16 points as they took advantage of the turnovers with their transition game.
The ’Cats pounded the rock into Serithia Hawkins and Kyeria Hannah and allowed Kayla Tucker, Gilbert and Jamia Shepard to rain jumpers from everywhere in the second half.
Chastain paced the Jaguars with 14 points. Lay added 8.
Hawkins had a game-high 23 points, and Tucker finished with 14. In her final game against rival Westmoore, Gilbert posted nine points.
“It’s real special,” Gilbert said. “Two wins against Westmoore in my senior year. It’s great. We are real excited. We are really happy to see where the rest of the season takes us, and hopefully, we will end in state.”
Michael Kinney Follow me @eyeamtruth firstname.lastname@example.org