Woodland trailed 36-22 at the half and tried hard to close the gap after the break. They trimmed a point off the differential in the third period but it was the fourth when the Wildcats got some traction with a 28-23 performance that saw them make several runs at the Cougars, although those did not pan out in a victory.
"We turned it up a notch in the fourth quarter and made an interesting game of it," head coach Mike Tobin said. "We just dug such a hole for ourselves in the first half and we weren't able to overcome it."
Greg Murphy had a monster game for the Wildcats, torching the net for 26 points. Corey Tobin also sank 16 points for the cause. Both were named to the all-tournament team.
"Greg was attacking the basket for us and he did a good job," coach Tobin said.
R.J. Williams opened scoring for Woodland, hitting a deuce in the game's first minute, to knot the game at 2-all. Corey Tobin buried two 3-pointers while the Cougars put a second deuce up on the scoreboard, to trail the Wildcats 8-4. Chattahoochee followed that with an 11-4 run and led 15-12 after a quarter.
The Cougars caught fire in the second period as they compiled a 21-10 run to snag a 14-point lead at the half.
Woodland didn't score until almost four minutes into the second period, when Murphy sank their first of the period and followed it up with three more in the quarter.
Woodland committed 13 turnovers in the first half but kept the ball under control much better the second half. In the third quarter, it reduced its turnovers dramatically but still got just 8 shots off, hitting 4 to reel off 8 points while allowing 7 by the Cougars.
In the final period, Woodland fired 15 shots, sinking eight while going six for six at the foul line. Murphy scored a dozen points in the final period.
"[Chattahoochee] played good defense against us in the first half and we struggled against it," Tobin said. "R.J. [Williams] also got in foul trouble and we struggled a bit. He missed almost a quarter. You have to credit their defense. They pressured us and we didn't handle the pressure well at all."
Woodland now will host Rockdale County on Saturday at the Wildcat gymnasium.
Coach Tobin said although Woodland wanted the championship trophy for the region, he's glad the school will be hosting one game in the state playoffs.
"We won't have to travel four hours and that's huge," he said. "We've scouted Rockdale and we know what to expect on our home court."
He said even with Saturday's loss, the Wildcats have put their stamp on a special season, winning 26 games against 2 losses.
"That's the best record our school has ever had," he said. "We'd like to have hoisted the championship trophy, too, but we have to let that go and get ready for Rockdale County."
He said the Wildcats will take the next couple of days off and resume practice on Wednesday. "We never practice more than three days in a row, and we will try to use the days off to sort of recharge our batteries."
The Wildcats had advanced to the region championship with a 67-24 victory over Rome on Tuesday and a 59-38 victory over Sequoyah on Friday. It had defeated Chattahoochee 66-51 on Jan. 28.