The marquee matchup between Ndu Egekeze and Dwayne Foots was a standoff, but there was still Hope for Westside.
Guard Marcus Hope drilled five 3-pointers and scored 18 points as Westside defeated reigning Class AA state champion Swainsboro 66-56 on Tuesday night at Westside High School.
Both teams lost some super players from last season and are in a rebuilding mode at this point. Swainsboro lost All-State players Sergio Washington and Randy Hughes from its Class AA state title team. Westside lost William Avery and Michael Cummings from last season's squad that advanced to the Class AAA Final Four for the third consecutive year.
Egekeze for Westside and Foots for Swainsboro are the remaining stars from those teams. Egekeze, a 6-foot-9 sophomore, took the upper hand early as Foots, a 6-6 senior, went to the bench with two fouls less than three minutes into the game.
The sophomore scored eight points in the opening period and 14 in the first half as Westside (6-5) built a 30-24 halftime advantage. Egekeze had 14 points, four rebounds and four blocks in the opening half while Foots had two points, no rebounds and no blocks at intermission.
"It messed up the whole game plan," said Foots of his two early fouls. "I have to be a leader because we're young."
In the second half, Egekeze got into foul trouble and Foots dominated the second half. He finished with 15 points, seven rebounds and two blocks compared to Egekeze's 18 points, five rebounds and four blocks.
But it was Hope who decided the outcome. When Swainsboro cut Westside's lead to 49-44 with 3:58 remaining, he drilled a cut-throat 3-pointer that put an end to Swainsboro's comeback attempts.
"That's the first time he's really shot the ball like that," Patriot coach Marvin Fields said of Hope. "They were big shots and there was no hesitation."
Hope said he felt confident and in rhythm after making his first 3-pointers.
"Hopefully, it will carry over for the rest of the season," said Hope.
In the girls game, Westside outscored Swainsboro 24-10 in the final period to turn a 38-33 deficit into a 57-48 win.
Brandi Robertson (17 points) and Angela Griffin (16 points) led Westside (7-2) to victory. Swainsboro (5-4) was led by junior sensations Shawneki Ricks (19 points) and Angela Thomas (17 points).
"We came back and played like we were suppose to play," Patriot coach Bill Richey said.
SWAINSBORO (48)-Angela Thomas 17, Dot Simmons 4, Shawneki Ricks 19, Tangela Moses 4, Katrina Sanders 2. Totals 22 4-8 48.
WESTSIDE (57)-Leslie Carroll 2, Katie Lawrence 4, Bethany O'Brien 2, Brandi Robertson 17, Vicki Paige 6, Brandi Wright 10, Angela Griffin 16. Totals 21 13-26 57.
Swainsboro13 5 20 10-48
Westside4 16 13 24-57
3-point goals: Robertson 2. Records: Swainsboro 5-4, Westside 7-2. Next: Richmond Academy at Swainsboro, Friday, 7 p.m. Westside at Laney, Friday, 7 p.m.
SWAINSBORO (56)-Shawn Lloyd 8, Dedrick Doyle 4, Ronny Thomas 15, Sherman Williams 4, Lyndon Johnson 4, Andre Buie 6, Dwayne Foots 15. Totals 23 8-16 56.
WESTSIDE (66)-Kyo Kelly 7, Leon Mack 1, Matt Childers 9, Marcus Hope 18, Marlo Winfrey 6, Cedric Strawder 7, Ndu Egekeze 18. Totals 23 13-20 66.
Swainsboro8 16 12 20-56
Westside12 18 12 24-66
3-point goals: Lloyd, Doyle, Kelly, Hope 5, Childers. Records: Swainsboro 4-6, Westside 6-5. Next: Richmond Academy at Swainsboro, Friday, 8:30 p.m. Westside at Laney, Friday, 8:30 p.m.