Spring Valley coach Megan Assey can walk away from Wednesday night’s 66-56 victory over Westwood feeling like her team accomplished something it didn’t do less than a week ago.
The Vikings led this one from the outset, which is a drastic contrast to the first meeting between two of the best girls basketball teams in the state. On Friday, Spring Valley had to overcome a first-half deficit to rally for the 79-73 overtime win.
“We didn’t start as intense Friday night,” Assey said. “We dug ourselves into a hole and had to get out of that. Tonight, it was a fast start, which is something we talked about. We also wanted to take the ball to the basket and not settle for jump shots. I thought we did that.”
Spring Valley, the defending Class 5A champions and the current top-ranked team in Class 5A, won for the 34th straight time. It also avenged the two losses to the Redhawks last season, which were the only two blemishes on the Vikings’ record. Westwood (9-2) is ranked No. 2 in Class 4A.
A strong start by the trio of Taylor Britt, Destiny Coleman and Taylor Lewis helped the Vikings (10-0) build a double-digit lead in the first half. Each of the seniors scored 11 first-half points as Spring Valley led by as many as 16 points before settling for a 45-31 advantage at the break.
The Vikings were each able to get out in transition to beat the Redhawks defense down the floor for easy baskets. Spring Valley didn’t make a 3-pointer and had the bulk of its points in the paint.
“It’s something we work on every day,” Assey said. “We talk about pushing the ball and beating teams up the floor to see how many quick baskets we can get off of that without having to run an offensive set.”
Westwood coach Gregory Bauldrick thought the slow start by his team along with the easy transition baskets were a key.
“I thought we were tight coming out and looked very uncomfortable,” he said. “We gave them a head start that we weren’t able to recover from. Once that happened, we weren’t mentally able to recover. They like to leak out and get in transition. We weren’t able to get back and play weakside, transition defense and they capitalized each time.”
Britt, a transfer from Richland Northeast, led four Vikings in double figures with 17 points. Coleman finished with 16, Lewis 14 and Ashley Williamson chipped in with 11 points.
“This is the most total team that I’ve ever coached. They know when someone is off, somebody else can step it up and pick them up,” Assey said.
Unique Drake scored 21 points for Westwood and Nyah Leveretter contributed a double-double with 15 points and 14 rebounds to go along with three steals and three assists.
In the boys game, Russell Jones scored 13 of his 25 points in the first quarter to lead Westwood to a 61-52 victory over Spring Valley. The Redhawks, ranked No. 2 in Class 4A, led 25-11 after the first quarter and never looked back in improving to 12-0.
SV – Taylor Britt 17, Destiny Coleman 16, Taylor Lewis 14, Ashley Williamson 11, Wiley 4, L. Taylor 4. W – Unique Drake 21, Nyah Leveretter 15, Lockett 9, Marshall 7, Etheridge 2, Wade 2.
SV – Antwann Moore 15, Nick Doctor 11, Robinson 7, Felder 5, Neal 4, Wright 4, Thibert 3, Whitfield 2, Porter 1. W – Russell Jones 25, Bre’on Lewis 11, Ta’jay Dunlap 10, Huff 5, McDaniels 4, Wormack 3, Turner 2, Green 1.