By RICK HAYES
Woodlawn scored the final eight points of the first half and held South Central scoreless in the final period to rack up a 54-25 regional semi-final victory at Sides Gym on Wednesday night.
Woodlawn (25-3) found itself down by as many as four points in the early going with the Cougars holding an 11-7 edge and then 13-9 to start the second quarter. Scoring the final eight points of the half though propelled the Cardinals to its first lead of the game at 18-17 with 2:12 remaining. Logan Isaac scored off a rebound and Ty Coleman drive the baseline for an uncontested layup with 37 seconds left to give the Cardinals a 22-17 advantage at the break.
“Offensively, we got a lot of good open shots at the start, but once you’re not hitting from the perimeter you have to change things up. If you make a few of the shots it makes them come out and extend a little bit more, and that’s what you saw in the second half. We finally a few shots to fall,” said Woodlawn coach Shane Witzel.
Woodlawn shot 8-of-26 in the first half, and warmed up to 10-of-21 in the second half for an overall shooting night of 38 percent. South Central (11-18), after hitting about half of its shots in the first half, made only four field goals in the second half — three of them from Fischer Tharp in the third quarter before picking up his fourth foul midway through the quarter. Obviously, the Cougars were not the same team when he wasn’t on the floor.
“We had ourselves in the game. When he comes out, it changes the flow of the game,” said South Central coach Rick Simmons. “We only have two players with experience, and when we don’t have that secondary guy, we were at a standstill.”
“It was more about us at that point than it was them, although he’s very important to what they do,” Witzel said.
When Tharp exited the contest, Woodlawn held a 27-23 lead. By the end of the quarter, the Cardinals extended their advantage to 14. South Central’s Bret Harmeier made the team’s final field goal with 30 seconds left in the third quarter, slicing the deficit to nine. Harmeier was the only Cougar in double figures with 10 points.
Woodlawn closed the game on a 18-0 run, with Tharp lasting just shy of two minutes in the final stanza.
Gabe Owens led Woodlawn with 22 points, including four 3-point baskets. Logan Isaac chipped in nine points as the Cardinals shot 13-of-17 from the charity stripe.
The third-ranked Cardinals will go for their sixth straight regional crown Friday night at home.