The Westlake-Newton boys playoff game lived up to all expectations Thursday night in Covington as third-ranked Newton defeated the reigning state champions of the highest classification 89-83 in triple overtime.
Newton (28-1) moved on to face Tift County in next week’s Class AAAAAAA quarterfinals.
In avenging a close semifinal defeat in the state playoffs last year, Newton led by as much as 42-23 in the first half and 57-48 in the fourth quarter, according to the report of Covington News sports editor Gabriel Stovall, but fourth-ranked Westlake roared back behind 6-foot-8 forward Chuma Okeke, a candidate for state player of the year.
Okeke, who has signed with Auburn, scored 35 points in his final high school game, but his Westlake team was held scoreless in the final four minutes of the last overtime. Newton sophomore Colby Rogers made 4 of 4 free throws in the final OT, stretching Newton’s lead from 85-83 to the final six-point margin.
J.D. Notae, the Region 8 player of the year, scored 24 points for Newton.
Westlake’s Danny Lewis (Central Florida signee) had 22 points, but brother Jamie Lewis (also a Division I prospect) was injured and did not play. Westlake finished 18-11 with almost all of its losses to out-of-state or Top 10 Georgia teams.
Here’s more on the boys and girls rounds of 16 in the highest classification …
-Newton advanced to the quarters to face seventh-ranked Tift County, a 72-55 winner over No. 8 Berkmar. Tift County’s Rashod Bateman hit four 3-pointers in the third quarter to break that game open, according to the Tifton Gazette’s Becky Taylor.
-Second-ranked Pebblebrook (21-7) and fifth-ranked Norcross (24-5) each advanced to set up their long-anticipated quarterfinal. Pebblebrook beat Duluth 89-76, as Collin Sexton put up 40 points, while Norcross defeated Colquitt County 66-59 as Georgia signee Rayshaun Hammonds had 27 points and 12 rebounds. Pebblebrook defeated Norcross 77-69 in December, when Alabama-signee Collin Sexton scored 32 points. Norcross has won five state titles while Pebblebrook has been a state finalist the past two seaosns.
-The Pebblebrook-Norcross winner will get an unranked opponent in the semifinals – Grayson or Brookwood. Grayson beat Etowah 69-53 on Thursday and made the quarterfinals for the second straight season, but the rams have never made a basketball semifinal. Brookwood – a 62-59 winner at Hillgrove on Thursday on Bubba Parham’s last-season 3-pointer – is in its first quarterfinal since 1999 and seeking its first semifinal since 1989. Eddie Martin, of Norcross, GAC and now Buford fame, was the coach of those Brookwood teams.
-In the bottom quarter of the draw, No. 1 McEachern (28-0) and No. 6 Wheeler (20-8) won easily as expected, setting up a quarterfinal between Cobb County rivals. McEachern dispatched Lambert 69-50, as Isaac Okoro scored 20 points, while Wheeler defeated ninth-ranked and Region 6 champion Mountain View 73-44. McEachern has never advanced to a state final. Wheeler has won six state titles.
Boys second round:
Grayson 69, Etowah 53
Brookwood 62, Hillgrove 59
#2 Pebblebrook 89, Duluth 76
#5 Norcross 66, Colquitt County 59
#3 Newton 89, #4 Westlake 83 (3 OT)
#7 Tift County 72, #8 Berkmar 55
#6 Wheeler 73, #9 Mountain View 44
#1 McEachern 69, Lambert 50
– Seven of the eight quarterfinalists are region champions, and seven finished in the top eight of the final regular-season rankings. The unranked team, Westlake, was the Region 2 champion and no stranger to the quarters. The only non-region champion still going is fourth-ranked Collins Hill, which handled unranked Region 4 champion Cherokee 72-48 in the second round Wednesday. (All eight quarterfinal teams were forecast correctly prior to the first round.)
-Collins Hill is in the quarterfinals for the first time since 2007, when Maya Moore was the nation’s best player. Collins Hill will play at third-ranked Lambert, which is in the quarters for the first time. Lambert beat Hillgrove 55-50 behind region player-of-the-year M.E. Craven’s 19 points.
-Westlake, which beat Duluth 63-60 on Wednesday, is in the quarters for the third straight season and will face No. 1-ranked Norcross. Norcross beat Marietta 76-46 on Thursday night.
-Eighth-ranked Colquitt County is in the quarters for the first time since 2006 and third time in history. Colquitt beat Brookwood 41-34 and will face sixth-ranked Archer, a 72-43 winner over Pebblebrook. Archer is back in the semis after losing to McEachern in the second round last season. The Tigers were a state runner-up in 2014 and semifinalist in 2015.
-The last quarterfinal will pit three-time defending champion McEachern against No. 5 Mill Creek. McEachern routed North Forsyth 63-33 on Thursday night, while Mill Creek edged Wheeler 47-45. Mill Creek is in the quarters for the first time since 2012 after three straight first-round defeats.
Girls second round:
#4 Collins Hill 72, Cherokee 48
#3 Lambert 55, Hillgrove 50
Westlake 63, Duluth 60
#1 Norcross 76, #10 Marietta 46
#6 Archer 72, Pebblebrook 43
#8 Colquitt County 41, #9 Brookwood 34
#5 Mill Creek 47, Wheeler 45
#2 McEachern 63, North Forsyth 33