From three seed to Final Four: Northwest keeps playoff march going with OT win over LaGrange

Apr. 30—TUNNEL HILL — Northwest Whitfield High School entered the Class 4A playoffs as the third-seeded team out of its own Region 7-4A.

The third-seeded Bruins are headed to the Class 4A Final Four.

Northwest Whitfield (9-7-4) defeated LaGrange (11-9) 2-1 in extra time Tuesday night to keep a magical playoff run rolling into the Final Four. The Bruins will travel to Gainesville to play defending 4A champion Johnson Friday.

After a first-half goal gave Northwest the lead for most of the game, LaGrange — also a three seed making a deep playoff run — scored a late goal to force extra time with the game tied at a goal apiece.

Northwest scored the go-ahead goal with just 1:38 remaining in the second 10-minute overtime period. The ball bounced to Fredy Lara after a corner kick, and Lara found the back of the net and set off a Northwest celebration.

Matthew Molina scored the first-half Bruin goal, heading in the ball with 14:11 left in the first half after another corner set piece. LaGrange scored the tying goal with 3:35 left in regulation.

After entering the playoffs with a losing record thanks to a tough region and non-region slate, Northwest went on the road to defeat Clarkston in the first round, then got the good fortune of getting to host the second and third rounds thanks to some other upsets in the bracket. The Bruins took advantage and reach the state semifinals. Both teams from Region 7-4A that finished ahead of Northwest, Southeast Whitfield and Cedartown, lost in the first round.

Johnson, the semifinal opponent, is 16-1-1 on the season. The one loss came against Dalton High, which interrupted a 30-game streak without a loss for Johnson.