The young Lady Wolverines played to win.
Woodstock came out hitting big shots in Tuesday’s Region 5AAAAAA championship game, scoring the first seven points against Roswell and never looked back.
The Lady Hornets never got into much of an offensive rhythm, and a pair of Erin Braxton free throws in the final minute helped seal Woodstock’s 44-37 victory at Etowah High School.
The Lady Wolverines (17-12) won their title despite losing the better part of 95 percent of its scoring from last season, including the graduation of standouts Clara Young, Makensie Block and Bri Lakes.
“It’s not about the youth. It’s about the passion and the intensity that they play with night in and night out,” said Woodstock coach Julie Crowe, who led her team to its second region title in three years. “They know they’re young, but they don’t play young.”
Kennedy Montgomery led the Lady Wolverines with 17 points, and her two 3-pointers helped Woodstock take a 16-9 lead at the end of the opening quarter.
Jessica Alexander finished with 12, and Ashton Sutton added eight.
Woodstock made a statement early in the third quarter after Roswell (20-8) opened the second half on a 4-0 spurt, capped by an end-to-end layup by Andreona Keys, who led the Lady Hornets with 22 points.
The Lady Wolverines responded with a 9-2 run that started with a putback and layup by Alexander.
After Nikki Cwalina scored to bring Roswell within three, Montgomery hit a layup, followed by a 3-pointer from the left wing that prompted a timeout with 2:49 left in the quarter.
Alexander followed with a layup to give the Lady Wolverines their first double digit lead of the game.
“They played with a lot of composure,” Crowe said. “We tried to stress that every possession counts, but we didn’t need to get the girls motivated. They were ready to play.”
Woodstock’s momentum carried over into the fourth quarter. With an eight-point lead going into the final 8 minutes, Sutton nailed a 3 from the right wing to give the Lady Wolverines a 36-25 lead, and Alexander followed with a jump shot to stretch the lead to 13.
But Woodstock knew Roswell wouldn’t go down without a fight. The Lady Hornets won the teams’ two regular-season meetings by a combined 31 points.
Trailing by 13, Roswell was forced to play with urgency. The Lady Hornets applied more pressure on their man-to-man defense and began creating both turnovers and points. A layup by Megan Toner, followed by a three-point play by Keys, cut the Woodstock lead to six, and another layup by Toner put Roswell within four points at 38-34 with less than 3 minutes to play.
Roswell’s run ended at the 2:20 mark, when Woodstock’s Kendole Pettway hit a short jumper — her only one of the game — and that shot turned out to be pivotal.
Woodstock tightened up defensively and began making its free throws to preserve its lead.
Roswell saw a nine-game winning streak snapped. Its only blemish against a region team came in early December, when it lost by one to Wheeler.