MOORE — After missing the past five weeks with an elbow injury, Southmoore’s Serithia Hawkins returned to action Tuesday night against Westmoore.
Hawkins’ return was supposed to set the SaberCats’ ship right, who had only two wins in past 11 games. But the Jaguars didn’t care. All they wanted to do was beat their rival on their home court.
Behind the clutch play of Callie Palmer, Westmoore came away with 57-55 victory over the SaberCats at Southmoore High. It was the second time this year the teams have come down to the wire. But this time the outcome was in the Jags’ favor.
“It was pretty crazy,” Westmoore guard Ashley Gomez said. “We had to think, going down to those final seconds, de ja vu. But I think we were ready for it this time. We were more confident than we were last time. We were just ready to win.”
Trailing by seven points, the SaberCats got back-to-back layups from Kyeria Hannah and Hawkins to cut Westmoore’s lead to three. But the Jags’ Victoria Lay beat Southmoore down the court for an easy layup to push the advantage back to five.
Hawkins was fouled with 53 seconds left and went to the line. She drained both to get the ’Cats to within three.
Southmoore forced a turnover and after a mad scramble, Cydni Campbell drained a 3-pointer with 22 seconds on the clock and tied the contest at 55-55.
The Jaguars weren’t done. They had been in this situation before and had learned from past mistakes.
“I was telling the team we had plenty of time to score,” Westmoore coach Andrea Guziec said. “It was tied. We weren’t going to lose this ball game. We are going to go win it. And that we had nothing to lose, just go crash the boards hard.”
Gomez drove into the lane and put up a shot that was off the mark. Palmer battled Hawkins for the rebound and put the ball back up for the game-winning basket.
“If I remember correctly, Callie and Momo (Hawkins) both had their hands on the ball,” Guziec said. “I just think Callie wanted it a little bit more right then and ripped it from her and put it back up.”
Richardson led the Jaguars with 18 points. Gomez added 14. Lay and Sydney Chastain posted 12 and 10 points, respectively.
Hawkins picked up where she left off five weeks ago. In her first game back she posted 18 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and two steals. Hayley Eaves added 11 points and Campbell chipped in with 9.
“Overall, I thought I saw some hunger from us I hadn’t seen in a while,” Southmoore coach Britney Kannady-Sayes said. “So I am proud of that. Obviously, we lost and that hurt. But we made some key mistakes, especially at the end of the ball game. If we play that hungry and learn from the mistakes, we can shake that off and move forward from here.”
Westmoore boys 64, Southmoore 61: After trailing by double digits almost the entire first half, the SaberCats clawed back into the game in the fourth.
Late in the contest Southmoore had the ball and trailed 63-59. Preston Smith was fouled attempting a 3-pointer from the corner with 5.6 seconds left. He made 2 of 3 from the line.
With the Jags leading 63-61, Westmoore’s Matt Humphries was fouled and connected on 1 of 2 of his foul shots to leave the door open for Southmoore.
With 4.5 seconds left, Southmoore got the ball to Chelvin Webb. He had a clean look at a game-tying 3-pointer, but it came up short as the buzzer sounded.
Tripp Fuller scored a game-high 22 points for Westmoore. Dervon Hill added 18 and Dakota Foster chipped in with 13.
Justin Bean had a team-high 18 points. Smith scored 17 points in the defeat. .
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