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Lions girls roll over Westwood 48-34

If the Halifax County Middle School girls basketball team was in need of a test to prepare for tonight’s Southside Middle School Conference Tournament quarterfinal game here against Lunenburg it didn’t get it.

Instead, what the Lions got in Monday night’s regular-season finale here against Westwood was little more than a modified practice.

With its defense in control and its offense clicking, the Lions produced a 12-0 lead at the end of the first quarter and cruised to a 48-34 win that was much easier than the score may indicate.

“We’re playing really well going into the tournament,” Smith said in the wake of the win that improved his team’s regular-season record to 10-4 overall.

“We passed the ball well, shot well and played good defense. We’re clicking a little bit now.”

The team’s recent good play has Smith confident about his team heading into tonight’s opening round of the Southside Middle School Conference Tournament.

Smith said he and assistant coach David Graham scouted Lunenburg and tournament semi-finals and finals host Nottoway last week and have a good grasp on the strength of those two teams.

“I feel pretty confident we can play with both teams,” Smith said.

“We’re happy with the way our team is progressing right now. I will be disappointed if we don’t make it to the championship game.”

The Lions opened the game with a strong first quarter that saw the team score half of its points on easy layups off of steals. Ghanija Gooden, who led the Lions in scoring with 14 points in the contest, scored five of the team’s 12 first-quarter points.

Halifax County Middle School outscored Westwood 8-3 in the first three minutes of the second quarter to produce a 20-3 lead and went on to stake itself to a 26-5 lead at halftime.

“That was probably the best half of basketball we’ve played this year,” Smith noted.

With the Lions leading 39-11, Smith sat his starters and key reserves with two minutes left in the third quarter. That move resulted in some anxiety among the Lions’ fans.

Using a pressure defense to prevent the Lions from getting the ball across half-court, Westwood ran off 16 unanswered points in a spree that continued through the first two minutes of the fourth quarter and cut its deficit to 12 points at 39-27.

With four minutes left in the game, Smith put his starters back into the game. While the Lions continued to struggle at times, they did enough down the stretch to seal the 14-point win.

“I took the starters out and wasn’t planning to play them anymore,” Smith pointed out.

“We put the second string in and they couldn’t get the ball up the floor. When the starters went back into the game, they were off a little bit. I guess that came from sitting.”

While Gooden led the Lions in scoring, she got good support from Shadajah Davis, who scored 13 points, eight of them coming in the second half. Alasha Edmondson and Malasia Boyd each chipped in seven points. Timonee McCargo scored four points and Fanliyah Ballou scored two points.