LILBURN - One of Wesley Witherspoon's greatest strengths can at times be his biggest weakness.
"He's too unselfish," Berkmar boys basketball coach Tommy McWhorther said.
McWhorter made it plain at halftime Tuesday night who he wanted to take charge against Meadowcreek and his senior standout responded.
Witherspoon had 13 third-quarter points - highlighted by three resounding dunks - as Berkmar took control and downed the visiting Mustangs 66-58 in a Region 8-AAAAA boys showdown.
"Coach told me I wasn't playing like a big-time player," Witherspoon said. "He told me I had to step up and show what kind of a player I was."
Witherspoon - one of the top unsigned seniors in the Southeast - certainly did.
He had consecutive steals capped by thunderous dunks in an 8-0 Berkmar run to start the third quarter, then rebounded his own free-throw miss and dunked again to end the period.
Down 25-23 at halftime, Berkmar had the lead at 46-45 and quickly blew things open in the fourth quarter as the 6-foot-8 Witherspoon opened the decisive 13-2 spurt with a basket and 3-pointer.
"I don't know how many points he had at halftime, but I knew it wasn't enough," McWhorter said. "We were going one-on-one too much. Your best player has to get the ball. We need him to get his points."
Witherspoon, who had five points at halftime, finished with 23 points to go with 11 rebounds and six steals.
"Coach is always on me to shoot more," Witherspoon said. "But we have a lot of good players on this team. It wasn't just me, we all stepped up in the second half."
Senior guard Demarion Gordon had 10 points in the third quarter and finished with a game-high 25.
While Witherspoon responded loudly when called on, Oregon signee Teondre Williams had a quiet game for Meadowcreek.
Coming off a 41-point game against Central Gwinnett, the 6-5 Williams had just 12 points and didn't score in the fourth quarter.
If it hadn't been for Dwayne Robinson, the Mustangs might not have been in the game as long as they were. The 6-3 senior scored 14 of his 15 points in the first three periods and grabbed 11 rebounds.
With its second victory over rival Meadowcreek, Berkmar improved to 10-2 in Region 8-AAAAA and 16-5 overall. Meadowcreek slipped to 9-4 and 16-8.
Berkmar finishes the regular season with two games against South Gwinnett, visiting the Comets tonight in a postponed game and hosting them on Friday.
The Patriots could still catch first-place Parkview, but the Panthers own the tiebreaker for the No. 1 seed in the region tournament next week.
"I'm not thinking about first place," McWhorter said. "That's probably out of our control anyway. What I'm concerned about his finishing a good season strong and getting ready for the postseason."
When Witherspoon kicks it into high gear like he did against Meadowcreek, the Patriots are a formidable team for anyone to face.
"But I couldn't do it without my teammates," Witherspoon said.
And his teammates can't do it without him.
Berkmar girls 69, Meadowcreek 38
The Berkmar girls improved to 17-4 overall and 9-3 in Region 8-AAAAA with a 69-38 victory over visiting Meadowcreek on Tuesday.
Gabby Harvey scored 17, Tyra Smith 16 and Ikeida Douglas 15 for the Patriots.
Aaryn Sells had 13 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals for Meadowcreek, 5-15 overall and 2-11 in the region. Genea Williams added 12 points, four rebounds and three steals while freshman Christian Cisneros had six points and four boards.
Berkmar led just 15-13 after a quarter, but took a 30-19 lead at halftime and blew the game open with a 24-9 edge in the third quarter.