SANDERSVILLE, Ga.— The Washington County girls basketball team faced one of its toughest challenges of this season on Tuesday night.
The way the Golden Hawks are playing, however, a tough challenge can sometimes be nothing more than double-digit victory.
Junior Allisha Gray scored 29 points and went 7 of 8 from the field in the second half to push Washington County to a 57-46 win over Westover in the second round of the GHSA Class AAA state tournament.
The Golden Hawks (29-0) won their 61st consecutive game and will play either Sandy Creek or Monroe at 4 p.m. Saturday at Georgia College’s Centennial Center in Milledgeville.
The Golden Hawks led by as many as 18 in the fourth quarter before some poor free-throw shooting and feisty play from the Patriots tightened the final margin.
“We’ve had some games this year where we’ve been tight in the second half, and I think our conditioning won out,” Washington County head coach Sug Parker said. “I thought we really got to them with the press in the third quarter. …We’re playing good basketball, and we don’t really talk about the (winning) streak. If we’re not playing on Saturday night in Macon (for the state championship), then it doesn’t matter.”
Most teams tend to drown against Washington County’s full-court pressure defense, and it looked like the Patriots (25-3) might be the next victim early after falling behind by 10 in the second quarter.
But Westover bounced back with its own run and eventually cut the Golden Hawks’ lead to two points at the start of the third quarter.
Gray hit the Patriots with a flash of three consecutive baskets off turnovers late in the third quarter. Westover had already fallen off the pace at the start of that run, and Gray and her teammates amped up the pressure.
Another basket by Gray at the start of the fourth quarter extended the lead to 18 points.