The Wolfpack are peaking at the right time going into tonight's Class A state semifinals, and they showed it in Saturday's state quarterfinal against a talented North Cobb Christian. Whitefield used a late second-quarter run to set the stage for an 86-59 win.
Now the Wolfpack are having to face off against Terrell County again at the Macon Centreplex, and the Greenwaves may be looking for payback.
Last year, Whitefield defeated Terrell County 72-68 in overtime by dominating the boards on both sides of the floor and getting players to foul out.
Now, with a majority of the key players from both teams squaring off again, the Wolfpack plan to stick with the same defensive game plan.
"Number 1, we need to be sound defensively, and that's both full-court and half-court sets," Whitefield coach Tyrone Johnson said. "Number 2, we have to dominate the glass. Both of those can only be achieved by execution and staying out of foul trouble."
The Wolfpack (28-3) have all three of their top scorers back on the floor this season in guards Tekele Cotton and Kenneth Gaines and forward Kennard Backman, and that will be key to their success. And Gaines and Cotton both being an inch taller than last year can also work toward their advantage.
Point guard Terel Hall has emerged as Terrell County's leading scorer after scoring 10 against Whitefield a year ago. Hall will also be boosted by a core of familiar faces that can also produce in forwards Charles Brown, Brian Browner and Dekoven Ware and guard Corderious Grier.
"(Hall) is the heart and soul of that team and, as he goes, they go," Johnson said. "We need to contain him and the pieces that are around him. He's definitely their best player, but they have good complimentary talent around him."
Both teams will also be missing key players from last year's game. Whitefield no longer having Chris Lovelace may hurt the Wolfpack from a defensive standpoint, but Terrell County has to account for not having 6-foot-6 post player Alre'k Brown, who scored 25 points against the Wolfpack last season.
With Brown gone, the Wolfpack will be focused on limiting Hall's production. Johnson said Hall's strength is attacking the basket but he can also hit the 3 if he gets open looks.
Whitefield will still rely on Cotton, Gaines and Backman to score the bulk of its points against Terrell County (26-3), but it is also expecting big things from 6-4 freshman forward Eric Lockett, who has been getting significant minutes off the bench this season.