MACON, Ga. — It’s hard to play catch-up in a state playoff game.
The Washington County girls basketball team found that out the hard way Tuesday night at Southwest.
The Patriots scored the game’s first 10 points and led by as many as 22 before holding off a fourth-quarter Washington County rally for a 58-47 win.
The victory moves Southwest (22-5) into the GHSA Class AAA semifinals, and the Patriots will play Dawson County at 4 p.m. on Saturday in Savannah. It marks Southwest’s first trip to the semifinals since 1995.
“Any time you play in a big game like this, you have to get off to a good start, and we were able to do that,” Southwest coach Willie Goolsby said. “We needed to play well offensively, and we did that and executed, and the girls played good defense.”
The start was indeed the key for the Patriots. Southwest used its 10-0 start to hold an 18-4 lead at the end of the first quarter. That lead grew to 21 points midway through the second quarter and stood at 16, 35-19, at halftime. The Patriots scored the first six points of the third quarter for their biggest lead at 41-19, and they led 47-28 entering the fourth quarter.
That’s when Washington County finally found its offense.
After hitting just 8 of 32 shots in the first half and losing ground on the scoreboard in the third quarter, the Golden Hawks came alive in the fourth quarter.
Led by the shooting of Daknequa White, who hit three 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, Washington County pulled to within 51-45, but Southwest was able to hold on at the end.
“I knew they were going to make a run; that’s what championship teams do,” Goolsby said. “We were able to hold them off just enough. Thank God we were able to hold them off.”
SheKenya Peters led a balanced Southwest attack with 15 points.
Shon Kitchens led Washington County (27-2) with 22 points, but she hit only 8 of 30 shots from the floor.
“We just couldn’t get anything going offensively,” Washington County coach Sug Parker said. “And when we got going a little bit there in the fourth quarter, it was too late. And we didn’t answer then defensively.”
Those problems all started early, as Washington County missed its first 11 shots from the floor and didn’t score for the first five minutes. The Hawks finished the first quarter hitting 2-of-17 shots.
“You can’t play from behind, not in a state playoff game because you don’t have another game to catch up,” Parker said.