MILLEDGEVILLE, Ga. — Westminster came into the semifinals of the GISA AAA state tournament with thoughts of knocking off the defending state champions.
And for a half, the Lady Wildcats probably looked like the better team.
But Arlington Christian isn’t 26-1 this season for nothing.
The Lady Eagles outscored Westminster 17-4 in the decisive third quarter and held on for a 45-33 win, advancing to the championship game, while Westminster ends the season at 19-9
Westminster came out hot and aggressive, taking a 10-5 lead at the end of one quarter. Both Anna Hearon and Samantha Trobaugh hit 3-pointers early and it looked as if the Lady Wildcats had done a great job in handling their jitters, while Arlington struggled.
They stretched the lead to 13-5 on another Hearon 3, but then went cold. The Lady Eagles, behind Kalin Williams and Larisa Bishop battled back in the last four minutes of the half, to tie the score at 17 at the intermission. Williams had 10 of Arlington’s 17 points in the half.
“I felt good about the way we played in the first half,” said Westminster coach Greg Wilson. “We knew we were not going to come out here and let them dictate how the game was going to be played and we did a great job early. The keys to the game were the last four minutes of the first half and the first minutes out of the second half. We let them get started and once they did, they are hard to stop. I had a feeling at the half that we didn’t quite have the fire that we needed and I even talked about it. It turned out to be accurate.”
Arlington scored six points in the first minute of the third quarter on two Bishop 3-pointers to give the Lady Eagles a six-point lead, and Westminster was never the same.
Arlington scored the first 15 points of the quarter, with Bishop scoring 10 of those. Westminster didn’t score until a minute was left in the quarter when Alena Romahn scored on a layup.
Westminster battled in the fourth quarter, cutting the lead to 40-31 with 2:22 left on a Javona Douglas basket, but the Lady Eagles were able to hold on for the hard-fought victory.
Hearon led the Lady Wildcats with 10 points.
“I know we weren’t intimidated by them, Hearon said. “We all felt like we could play with them and we proved that in the first half. I think the key to the game was their quickness as a team . By the end of the game we were very tired, and I think we used a lot of energy early to stay up with them. If we are going to lose, I would rather lose to the best team in the state, and Arlington is one of the best.
Williams ended the night with a game-high 23 points, with Bishop chipping in with 17. Douglas added seven for Westminster, while Trobaugh grabbed 12 rebounds.