Class 6A Boys: Westlake 62, Glynn Academy 60

The Lions survived, advanced to the second round for the eighth time in the last 10 seasons

Unlike in years past, Westlake doesn’t have a big-time scorer like Chuma Okeke, Mr. Georgia Basketball in 2017 who is now with the Orlando Magic. So, this year’s version of the Lions relies on its defense.

And while the Lions (20-5) – the No. 2 seed from Region 4-6A – weren’t their best defensively at times Wednesday night, they made big-time plays when they had to in the game’s final minute, including a game-winning three by senior Gaddis Heath, to hold off a gutsy squad from Glynn Academy (19-9), 62-60 in the first round of the Georgia High School Association state playoffs.

Trailing 60-59 with just under a minute to play in regulation, Westlake junior Jordan Chaney came up with a steal to keep the Terrors from taking more time off the clock. But Glynn Academy stole the ball back and guard Shane Payne and forward Maurice Waldon headed the other way for a two-on-one break against Heath. But Heath held his ground and blocked Waldon’s layup attempt, giving his team the ball back.

The Lions worked for a good shot and Heath drilled a three from the corner with :08 seconds left to give his team the lead. Glynn Academy lost the ball out of bounds working for a game-tying or game-winning shot, and Westlake successfully ran out the clock.

Lion head coach Daron Rogers said he and his staff warned his team that the Terrors, the No. 3 seed from Region 2, were formidable, having won the same number of games as Westlake.

“We told them they were a good team, just as good as we are,” said Rogers, who has led the Lions to three state titles and eight Final Fours in 25 seasons. “When you look at their region down in south Georgia, they battled (No. 1) Statesboro and (No. 2) Effingham County all season. They have really good shooters and that tends to give us trouble.”

Westlake jumped out to a 20-11 lead after one quarter, but Glynn Academy battled back, and Payne’s deep three cut the Lion lead to 24-21 with three minutes left before halftime. The teams went back and forth from there and the Lions led 31-27 at the break.

Westlake went on a 20-11 run to start the third quarter, keyed by Chaney’s six points and five from Heath, and the Lions went up 51-38 with a little more than two minutes left in the third quarter. But the Terrors got it going from the outside and went on a 15-3 spurt to narrow the gap to 54-53 with just over five minutes to play. Junior Tyie Ivy knocked down two threes and Quay Dickens hit one during the spurt.

“We probably stayed in the zone a little too long, and they got their confidence going,” Rogers said of the Terrors, who eventually took a 60-59 lead with two minutes to go on Waldon’s layup, after a slick pass from Ivy.

But those were the last points of the night for Glynn Academy, and Heath’s three sent the Lions into the second round for the eighth time in the last 10 seasons. Westlake will take on Wheeler, a game that could just as easily be a semi-final match up, Friday in Marietta.

“Our guys were probably looking ahead to this game,” Rogers said. “It’s hard not to, especially with social media and when you consider the fact that we’ve been battling for number one (in the state) the whole season. They’re a great team, so we’re going to have to play great to win.”