There were moments when things appeared somewhat even. Each time, however, White Oak turned on the jets in typical fashion.
In other words, the Roughnecks cruised right along.
White Oak raced to a big first-quarter lead and coasted the rest of the way, eliminating Palestine Westwood from the postseason with a 69-57 victory in the Class 2A Region III boys basketball quarterfinals Tuesday night at UT Tyler’s Herrington Patriot Center.
The second-ranked Roughnecks, the defending state champions, outscored No. 20 Westwood 22-7 in the opening quarter to take command. That gave them enough cushion to fend off the upset-minded Panthers, who never gave up despite falling behind big against an intimidating power.
White Oak (33-1) advanced to meet Salado, 60-54 winners over Trinity, in the regional semifinals, scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches. Westwood, which claimed its first playoff win in about two decades last week, completed the season 22-11.
White Oak’s Levi Yancy and Hayden Nichols gave the Roughnecks a huge size advantage inside the paint, which helped them finish the night with 16 points each. Senior guard Skylar Sutton added 14 points for White Oak, which led by as many as 22 points in the fourth quarter.
“I thought offensively that we executed pretty well, particularly since we hadn’t seen zone in quite a while,” Roughnecks coach Ron Boyett said. “They really extended and I thought we did a job of getting the ball to the interior and passing the ball in the interior, and then when we had to take some perimeter shots we did.”
Westwood, which eliminated Troup in a dramatic area-round matchup last Friday, was paced by L.J. Hutchinson’s 13-point effort and Chris Thompson’s 12-point game. Hutchinson, a senior guard, provided the game’s top highlight with no time remaining, a 3-pointer from well beyond halfcourt to make the final difference 12 points.
Westwood used a 9-0 run in the third quarter — which Yancy on the bench in foul trouble — to claw into a 20-point deficit. But the Panthers were simply outmatched by the Roughnecks, who gained their first 20-point lead of the night on a two-handed dunk by Yancy with 6:17 left in the third and returned the advantage to 20 points with 3:12 left in the fourth.
White Oak went on 16-0 run in the opening quarter to take total command, carrying a 22-7 lead into the second period. The Roughnecks were their typical selves during the run, moving the ball around in lightning-quick fashion and setting up high-percentage shots whether inside or outside.
“We knew if we could get the ball in the middle of the zone some good things could happen,” Boyett said. “We really worked on that yesterday and then they executed it really well. That’s the strength of our team; we can take something in practice and our kids listen, they pay attention and they go out and do it in the game. And it helped us tonight quite a bit.
That put White Oak in position to run away with things, even though the Roughnecks played almost evenly with the Panthers in the second quarter, outscoring them 13-12 to take a 35-19 lead into the break. Nichols, a 6-4 junior, finished the half with 10 points and three rebounds, while Yancy, a 6-7 senior, put up eight points and seven boards.
Newton led Westwood with eight first-half points.
Class 2A Region III Quarterfinal
At Herrington Patriot Center, UT Tyler
No. 2 White Oak 69, No. 20 Palestine Westwood 57
Westwood7121523 — 57
White Oak22131519 — 69
WESTWOOD — L.J. Hutchinson, 13; Jerry Turner, 9; Josh Denby, 5; Chris Thompson, 12; Damontrey House, 2; Dra Ross, 8; Jacobee Newton, 8.
WHITE OAK — Josh Benson, 2 Levi Yancy, 16; Skylar Sutton, 14; Hayden Nichols, 16; Kris Anderson, 6; Slade Sutton, 10; Dax Davis, 5.
THREE-POINT GOALS — W: Turner, Hutchinson. WO: Sutton (2), Sutton (2).
RECORDS — Westwood 22-11; White Oak 33-1.
NEXT UP — White Oak vs. Salado, 6 p.m. Friday, Stephen F. Austin State University, Nacogdoches.