Frank Booker dropped 30 points and Westside survived a second-half slugfest as the Patriots defeated Eastside in the first round of the Class AAA state playoffs, 66-61.
The junior forward scored almost twice as many points as the next highest scorer on the team and hit three 3-pointers. He also picked up four key foul shots late as the Patriots pulled away from the Eagles late.
“He was able to get to the basket, and he knocked down some foul shots,” Westside coach Marvin Fields said of Booker. “He hit some big free throws, which was very important.”
Eastside (15-14) jumped to an early lead by going on a 10-3 run to start the game and led by nine at the end of the first.
However, Westside (20-7) quickly responded by going on a 7-1 run to begin the second quarter as the Patriots took their first lead with 1:50 left in the half, 28-27. Westside led at halftime 33-30 behind a 21-point second quarter.
“We hit a few more shots in the second that helped close the gap some,” Fields said. “We knew coming into the third quarter all reports on them were that they were a good, scrappy group, and so we knew we had a fight ahead of us, which it turned out we had.”
The scrappiness Fields attributed to Eastside proved true as the Eagles fought to remain within striking distance of the Patriots. The third quarter saw Westside tack on 16 more points, but Eastside remained close, trailing by only three at the end of the third quarter.
The back-and-forth battle continued into the fourth quarter, with Eastside remaining just one point behind with two minutes to play. However, key foul shots from Booker gave the Patriots enough breathing room to prevent a last-second comeback attempt from the Eagles.
“It got a little tight at the end, but my teammates, we got to the basket, got to the line and shot free throws,” Booker said.
Ronald Campbell added 16 points for Westside, and Rashon Taylor recorded seven, including two 3-pointers.
Quindarius Russell had 24 points for Eastside. Treyvon Francis added 12, and Anthony Henderson had nine on three 3-pointers.
Westside advances to the second round to play host to Crisp County on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.