The Westwood girls put the heat on Pickens from the tip-off Tuesday night.
Staying with a full-court press in the first half, and using a diamond-and-one defense under the net, the Redhawks got easy points off steals and rolled to a 58-28 victory in the first round of the 4A playoffs.
“We like that diamond press,” Westwood coach Gregory Bauldrick said. “For the most part, it’s been difficult for people to deal with and it’s been very successful for us. We like the way our folks are communicating on defense, playing focused, playing hard.”
Westwood (19-5), a No. 2 seed in the playoffs, will travel to No. 1 North Augusta, which defeated Union 95-25.
While not allowing any Pickens player to get into double digits, Maliyah Lockett led the way for Westwood with 20 points. Essence Marshall had 11 and Unique Drake put up 10.
Nyah Leveretter pulled down 13 rebounds, while she and her teammates outboarded the Blue Flame 41-20.
“Nyah is big, long, tall, she’s got a big wingspan,” Bauldrick said. “She can disrupt a lot of things for us.”
And when Leveretter can get it out to Lockett, Bauldrick added, “our big combo guard/forward can score outside-inside, take you off the dribble, finish you off the rack, she can do it all.”
Drake had six steals, while the Redhawks had 16 thefts overall.
Westwood got off to a 15-2 start in the first four minutes of the game, thanks in part to Drake’s four thefts and three baskets apiece from Marshall and Lockett.
The Redhawks closed out the first quarter with a 21-6 lead and had a 37-10 advantage at the half.
Pickens’ only break in the game was a 9-2 run to start the fourth quarter, against a Westwood lineup filled with bench players. The Redhawks, which held a 31-point lead midway through the third quarter, watched the Blue Flame get to within 20 points with three minutes to go.
“We had our moments, kind of got lackadaisical,” Bauldrick said. “It’s very difficult to try to do what you want to do when you get that kind of team. They’re well coached and very disciplined, but we wanted to get them on their heels, keep them playing downhill a little bit.”
Leading 46-26 by that time, Westwood finished off the game with a 12-2 scoring run to put the game in the books.
“We played really hard and brought a lot of good energy into the game and finished it really well,” Lockett said. “We’re playing really good. Everybody’s kind of tired, but we’re pushing through it.”
P: Robinson 9, Turner 6, Welborn 4, Farmer 3, Morris 2, Noblitt 2, Hyder 2. W: Maliyah Lockett 20, Essence Marshall 11, Unique Drake 10, Frederick 9, Leveretter 4, Mines 2, Belton 2.