But when Whitefield coach Tyrone Johnson decided he had had enough 3 minutes into the game, and with score knotted at 8-all, he called timeout to make defensive adjustments.
From there, the Wolfpack controlled the game from both ends of the court and sealed an 82-61 victory to set up a state-championship meeting against Region 6A rival St. Francis — which Whitefield swept during the regular season — on Saturday at the Macon Centreplex.
Whitefield (23-6) will be competing for its third state championship in six years after last getting crowned in 2009 and ’12.
“It’s strange. We were there two years ago, and it feels like 15,” Johnson said. “It gets difficult each time. North Cobb Christian could be where we are right now.”
Whitefield was four days removed from a double-overtime quarterfinal win over North Cobb Christian, its archrival.
Ten of the 12 players who saw the court scored for Whitefield, led by Brendan Myles’ 14 points. Norman Harris and Courtney Alexander each scored 13, with Alexander also finishing with 15 rebounds. Isaiah Hart had 12 points and Eric Lockett finished with 10.
Before Whitefield could turn up its intensity, it was allowing too many open lanes while defending Calvary Day (20-7).
“We had to call timeout because we were not defending the ball and we were fouling like crazy,” Johnson said. “We had to clean some things up and be responsible. Good defense takes good behavior.”
A 3-pointer by Berto Dryden set the tone for Whitefield after Johnson called the timeout. It was the start of a seven-point run that ended with Myles’ layup off a Calvary Day turnover at 2:22, forcing the Cavaliers to call a timeout of their own.
The stoppage didn’t help.
Calvary Day couldn’t stop Whitefield from beyond the arc in the first half, as the Wolfpack hit five of their eight attempts from long range. Whenever Calvary Day attempted a scoring run, Whitefield hit a 3-pointer to keep its distance.
Jesse Byrd hit a timely 3 late in the first to give the Wolfpack an 18-10 lead. Harris nailed one early in the second for a 10-point lead.
Lawrence Waters hit a 3 at the end of the second quarter after Calvary Day cut the lead to nine, and Myles sank one during the waning seconds to open up a 14-point lead.
“We can shoot the ball well when we take good shots,” Johnson said. “That was really big for us because we struggled (early) defensively.”
The first half ended when Lockett finished a missed shot from under the basket at the buzzer. That put the Wolfpack ahead 40-24, and Calvary Day couldn’t make a second-half run, allowing Whitefield to swell its lead to more than 20.
“We just came out flat (in the first half), and we can’t have that,” Myles said. “The second half, we came out and played. We have to finish the game.”
Derek Kirkland came to life for Calvary Day in the second half, scoring 14 of his 16 points, but it wasn’t enough to spark a rally for the team from Savannah. Robert Hayward was also in double figures with 12 points, and A.J. Keene finished with nine.