Okeke, Lions Begin Playoff Road To Repeat As State Champs with 50-37 Win Over Roswell
On Friday night, last year’s Georgia High School Association 6A Champions, the Westlake Lions hosted the Roswell Hornets in their quest to repeat as champs and win the inaugural 7A title. The Lions would get on the board when #1 Sr. Chuma Okeke scored on a 2-point basket in the post. The Lions would go on to take a 4-1 lead after Okeke (32 pts) scored but Roswell would answer back to make it a 4-3 game with under 5 minutes to go in the opening quarter. As the quarter continued the Lions would go on a 6-0 run to take a 10-3 lead and force the Hornets to use a timeout with 3:08 to go in the opening quarter.
Out of the timeout, the Lions would go on a 6-2 run to close out the opening period with 16-5 lead. As the second quarter of play began the Hornets would get a couple of baskets to cut the Lion’s lead to 8 as Westlake led 18-10 with 4:37 to go in the first half. The Hornets would to continue to cut into the Lion’s lead and make it a 22-17 game with 1:34 to go after #35 Jr. Cordel Littlejohn would hit a 3-point basket. With 1:17 remaining in the first half, a Westlake turnover would give the Hornets another opportunity to close the gap and they would do just that after #20 So. Miles Herron would draw a shooting foul followed by a Westlake technical.
Herron would miss the technical but would make good on the foul shots and the Hornets would be down 19-22 with 1:00 to go in the half. After Roswell failed to score after taking possession following the foul shots, Westlake would get another 2-point basket by Okeke before the half ended to late a 24-19 lead into the locker room. As the second half began Westlake’s Okeke would come up with a steal and basket to lift the Lions 26-19 but Roswell’s #2 Sr. Jordan Merriman (9 pts) would come up with a steal of his own and make a 3-point basket followed by another 3-point basket to make it a 26-25 Westlake lead but another Westlake turnover would lead to the Hornets taking a 27-26 lead after #5 Sr. Jordan Comma hit a 2-point basket and the Lions would use a timeout with 5:09 to go in the third quarter.
As the quarter continued, the Hornets would find themselves with a 29-26 lead and as Westlake struggled to come up with points offensively, the Lions would use another timeout with 2:28 to go in the third quarter. The Lions would then score 4 unanswered points to regain the lead and go up 30-29 and with :10 remaining in the quarter, and then a steal and basket by #10 Sr. Joseph Markham and followed by another steal and dunk by Okeke would give the Lions a 34-29 lead as the quarter came to an end. As the fourth and final period began, the Lions Okeke would draw a shooting foul and connect on both foul shots to give Westlake a 36-29 lead.
After the Lions took a 38-32 lead, Roswell’s Merriman would drain a 3-point basket to make it a 38-32 Westlake lead and the Lions would use another timeout with 5:56 to go in the fourth quarter. Out of the timeout, Westlake would score off a Okeke dunk and then come up with a steal by #24 who would draw a foul and make the front end of a one and one as the Lions would take a 43-32 lead. After going up 48-35, the Lions’ size would prove to be the advantage they needed as they would go on to win their first round match up by a final score of 50-37. Next up for the Lions, Georgia's No. 1 ranked team Newton, who defeated Peachtree Ridge 100-72 in their opening round match up.