Latson, Johnson lead Westlake girls to 64-54 victory in GEICO semifinals

March 12, 2021 Macon - Westlake's Brianna Turnage (4) grabs a rebound during the 2021 GHSA State Basketball Class AAAAAA Girls Championship game at the Macon Centreplex in Macon on Friday, March 12, 2021 Westlake won 64-46 over Carrollton. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)
March 12, 2021 Macon - Westlake's Brianna Turnage (4) grabs a rebound during the 2021 GHSA State Basketball Class AAAAAA Girls Championship game at the Macon Centreplex in Macon on Friday, March 12, 2021 Westlake won 64-46 over Carrollton. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Ta’Niya Latson and Raven Johnson combined for 51 of Westlake’s 64 points and led the Lions to a 64-54 victory over Fremont of Plain City, Utah, in the semifinals of the GEICO High School Nationals tournament Friday in Fort Myers, Fla.

Westlake (21-0) will meet Paul VI of Chantilly, Va., in the championship game Saturday at 10 a.m. in a game to be televised by ESPN2.

Westlake won Georgia’s Class 6A championship this year for its fourth consecutive state championship. The Lions are 21-0 this season and 111-4 during their four-year run. Fremont was the state champion in Utah’s Class 6A and ended its season 26-1.

Johnson, who was named the AJC’s all-classification player of the year for the second consecutive season, flirted with a quadruple-double, finishing with 25 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists and seven steals. Johnson is the No. 2-ranked senior in the country, according to espnW, and has signed with South Carolina.

Latson, a first-team all-state selection in Class 6A, scored 11 points in the first quarter and finished with a game-high 26 to go along with five rebounds, four assists and four steals. Latson, an uncommitted junior, is the No. 39-ranked player in her class nationally.

“They are really good friends and good leaders on and off the court,” Westlake coach Hilda Hankerson said. “That’s what makes them be able to play together like that. When that’s your friend, you learn how to play on and off the court. That’s something that you can’t even coach. Those kinds of things are just a part of their chemistry.”

Westlake took its biggest lead on a jumper by Misia McKinney that made it 45-31 midway through the third quarter. Fremont answered with a 17-4 run, closing the gap to 49-48 on a putback by Emma Calvert with 4:31 remaining in the game.

However, Westlake outscored the Silverwolves 13-2 over the next three and a half minutes, pushing the lead back to 62-50 and putting the game away.

Fremont gave Westlake some trouble inside with its height advantage. Calvert, a 6-foot-4 senior who is committed to Brigham Young, scored 13 points and had 11 rebounds. Maggie Mendelson, a 6-5 sophomore ranked No. 21 nationally in her class, had 23 points and six rebounds.

Fremont scored the game’s first points on a 3-pointer by Mia Austin, but Westlake answered with a 13-2 run and never trailed again.

Westlake - 22-15-12-15 - 64

Fremont - 16-12-13-13 - 54

Westlake (64)

Brianna Turnage 5, Ta’Niya Latson 26, Raven Johnson 25, Camerah Langston 2, Misia McKinney 6, Cynthia Walton, Kennedy Jackson, Rhyann Wilson, Kelsey Willingham.

Fremont (54)

Mia Austin 7, Averee Porter, 8, Emma Calvert 13, Maggie Mendelson 23, Ashley Oliver 3, Halle Duft, Callee Hill, Kallin Freestone, Aly Coombs, Kenna James.

About the Author

In Other News