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Westminster boys win Holiday Classic title
by Greg Oshust
January 08, 2013 03:54 PM | 2076 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Westminster boys’ basketball team finished 2012 on a positive note as it won its own Holiday Classic Dec. 27 through 29.

The Wildcats clinched the tournament title with a convincing 50-34 victory over Northview in the finals Dec. 29.

To reach the title game, Westminster defeated Lumpkin County 63-34 in the first round Dec. 27 and Decatur 37-30 in the semifinals Dec. 28.

The three tournament wins improved the Wildcats to 8-3 and gave them a boost going into the main part of their Region 6AA schedule, according to coach Tray Malloy.

“We look at this as an opportunity to get us ready for region play,” Malloy said. “We tried to get a sense of how we can put together three consecutive games — one at a time — and see how that would play out and it worked out well for us.”

Westminster took the lead for good late in the first quarter and gradually built up its advantage the rest of the way.

The Wildcats led 11-9 at the end of the opening period, then held a 22-18 lead at halftime and a 36-27 advantage after three quarters.

Harrison Butker, who scored 12 points in the championship game, was named the tournament’s most outstanding player as well as being chosen to the all-tournament team.

Joe Bridges, who led Westminster with 21 points in the title contest, was the only other Wildcat who claimed all-tournament honors.

The Westminster girls also had a good run in the Holiday Classic with a third-place finish in the girls’ bracket.

The Wildcats, who were 4-10 after the tournament, defeated Lumpkin County 25-24 in the first round Dec. 27 and lost to Grady 36-34 in the semifinals before beating Northview 43-41 in the third-place game Dec. 29.

Grady won the girls’ title, beating Paideia 35-30 in the finals.

Westminster’s Jazmine Lester was named to the girls’ all-tournament team.

It was also a good week for the Holy Innocents’ girls, who hosted the Peach State Holiday Invitational and finished runner-up in the green bracket.

The Lady Bears, who were 10-3 after the tournament, lost to Blackman (Tenn.) — ranked ninth in the national top 25 poll — 66-32 in the finals Dec. 29 after winning by forfeit over St. Edmund Campion (Ontario) in the first round Dec. 27 and Newark (Ohio) 70-62 in the semifinals Dec. 28.

Erika Cassell scored 18 points and grabbed 16 rebounds, while Reshaundra Owens added 14 points and eight rebounds in the semifinal win over Newark, while Cassell had 11 points and Owens 10 points and eight rebounds in the title-game loss to Blackman.

Holy Innocents’ coach Tony Watkins said playing in the tournament, which featured a number of the top teams in the nation, was a good experience for his squad.

“Playing these teams will definitely help us as we enter the second half of the season and going into the playoffs,” Watkins said. “Both teams [Blackman and Newark] exposed some weaknesses that we have to work on. That is why we want to play tough out-of-region opponents. These games will make us better."

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