Westlake 48, Patuxent 37
Westlake senior Kaleigha Gray didn't perceive her two tough three-pointers last night in the fourth quarter of the No. 8 Wolverines' 48-37 come-from-behind win last night over Patuxent as anything particularly strange or special.
Instead, the two big baskets -- the second of which gave the Wolverines the lead for good with under four minutes left -- simply embodied a Westlake tradition of rising to any challenge that presents itself.
"I've been with this team four years," Gray said. "We're not going down without a fight. Someone is going to step up."
After trailing by as many as 13 points in the first quarter and struggling to get into a flow against a tough Patuxent squad, host Westlake (20-1, 15-0 Southern Maryland Athletic Conference) made a gritty comeback to take the win in Waldorf and clinch the championship.
Gray is the Wolverines' leading scorer at 16 points per game, but she was stymied for much of last night's game by tenacious defense led by Patuxent's 6-foot-2 centers Charese Baldwin and Amanda Robinson.
But Gray, who finished with 14 points, made her clutch three-pointers with a hand near her face, the second giving the Wolverines a 38-37 lead with 3 minutes 43 seconds remaining.
Junior Nicole Hester (game-high 16 points) made five free throws in the last minute to seal the win.
"It's not just the size of [Patuxent's] big players, it's that they're smart, well-coached players, and it seems like they never make a mistake," Westlake Coach Sean Anderson said. "But I have to give it up to my girls. We were undersized, but there's no way you can compete with the heart and determination these girls have."
In the teams' second meeting this season, the Panthers (17-5, 14-2) once again led heading into the final four minutes, but once again Westlake surged back for the win, as it did in a 51-47 win on Feb. 3.
With a pestering defense and good rebounding, Patuxent took a 17-4 lead after the first quarter. Baldwin had six of her 15 points, six of her 18 rebounds and two of her four blocks in the period.