By Brian Paglia
Morrow girls basketball coach Yolanda Jenkins had not smiled so much all game as she did during the final minute. The outcome had long been decided, but when Jasmine Storey pressured a Westlake guard in the backcourt and drew a foul, Jenkins rose from the bench, turned to her assistants and subtly pumped her fist.
Those are moments that have been too infrequent for the Lady Mustangs this season. Jenkins said she saw more of those moments against Westlake than she had all season, but not enough in Morrow's 74-35 loss to the Lady Lions in a Region 2-AAAAA game Friday at Morrow.
"My honest opinion of the game is not based on what the score looked like," Jenkins said. "My honest opinion of what I was looking for is what my kids did that they didn't do in the last game. I mean, we've turned over the ball in games 20, 30, 40 times. We just throw it out of bounds under any type of pressure. And I felt like they did a good job of a lot of things tonight."
The normal cycle of high school basketball attrition and the transfer of several key players left Morrow (1-3, 1-1) with just one senior and an abundance of youth. Few on Jenkins' roster had encountered a true athletic forward like Westlake's 6-foot-2 Tamika Willis, who has committed to play at Georgia next season.
Willis led three Lady Lions scorers in double-figures with 18 points. She had two blocks, altered countless other shots and grabbed four offensive rebounds. Sharnea Boykin scored 14 points, and Dalila Robinson added 10 for Westlake (2-0, 2-0).
Willis scored with an array of moves during Westlake's first big run in the first quarter. A 12-0 Lady Lions run began and ended with a short jumpshot in the paint by Willis. In between there was a baseline drive that led to two free throws and a tough putback after leaping for an offensive rebound. Just like that Morrow was down 21-3.
Chatil Bradford scored a game-high 19 points for Morrow, but no other player had more than four.
"They're not aggressive enough offensively as they should be," Jenkins said. "That's something we need to work on, because to be honest, we need to work on that part of our game. We have kids that just don't know what to do with the ball when they get it. I think our frustration came from not being able to match their offensive game."
· Westlake 74, Morrow 61 (Boys): Morrow coach Jay Livingston knew coming into this season the one glaring weakness of his team was its lack of size inside, but they had not been tested by a team with a formidable backcourt until Friday. Westlake's starting lineup had no one shorter than 6-foot-4 and included one of the state's most electric swing-forwards in Javoris Bryant.
No. 5 Westlake (2-1, 2-0 in Region 2-AAAAA) used its size and speed to hand the Mustangs (6-1, 1-1) its first loss of the season, and Bryant led the way with a game-high 23 points for the Lions. Marc Brown added 14 points.
Morrow struggled offensively in the second half. Senior captains Tony Dukes and Sean Stringfellow led the Mustangs with 14 points each, and De'Andre Smith scored 10. Josh Davis, Morrow's tallest interior player at 6-foot-5, grabbed 12 rebounds, but he and Dukes fouled out.