In a possible preview of the Region 7-AAAAA boys tournament play-in game, Woodland couldn’t hang with Hiram during the middle two quarters in dropping a 60-44 decision Friday at home.
The Hornets outscored the Wildcats in every quarter, but it was their combined 29-17 scoring advantage during the second and third periods that allowed for a fairly straight-forward win.
It spoiled senior night for Woodland’s eight 12th-graders, six of whom scored in the contest. But the possibility remains of a rematch in less than two weeks for a chance to face the No. 1 seed in the region tournament quarterfinals. The Wildcats (4-18, 1-13) are locked into the No. 9 seed, although the Hornets (8-15, 3-11) could finish higher than their current eighth-place ranking in the standings.
Behind five quick points from senior Justice Carter, Woodland hung around in the first quarter, trailing just 15-12 after one, despite giving significant minutes to some seniors who don’t generally see a ton of playing time.
Things were nip and tuck early in the second period. The Wildcats pulled within 17-16 on a free throw by senior D.J. Robinson. Hiram responded with a game-changing 13-0 run before a Hunter Johnson 3-pointer got Woodland back within 30-19 at halftime.
Johnson, playing in his final home game, knocked down two more triples in the third quarter, but the Wildcats only managed 10 total points to fall behind 44-29 after three. Johnson had seven of his team-high 16 points and fellow senior Jaylen Ballard, who knocked down a trio of 3s, added four of his 14 points in the fourth quarter.
However, Woodland could never get the defensive stop it needed to be able to trim the deficit to 10 or less. Wildcats junior Dawson Wilkins, who often scores 15-plus points, came off the bench for possibly the first time all season and never got into the flow of the game, finishing with just a pair of fourth-quarter free throws.
JaVyen Brown led the Hornets with 21 points, while Arshard Crepsac and Nate Presnell finished with a dozen points each. Hiram will host Cass and Rome to complete the regular season.
Woodland, meanwhile, will close with road trips to Carrollton (Tuesday) and Villa Rica (Friday) ahead of the aforementioned play-in game.