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T'Ville two-step -- Part 1

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

THOMASVILLE -- Latriesha Moon really didn't know what else to say.

"That wasn't Bainbridge out there (Wednesday night). Nope," the Lady Bearcats basketball coach said. "That team did not come to play. I don't know who was out there -- but it wasn't Bainbridge."

Playing in the finals of the Thomasville Hoopfest -- a tournament the Herald No. 1, and previously unbeaten, 13-0 Lady Bearcats had won three years in a row prior -- the final reading on the scoreboard sure looked like Bainbridge had been there -- Thomasville 64, Bainbridge 54.

Even if Moon was still having trouble digesting it.

When asked what was more crushing -- the loss to a team her girls feel like they should've beaten, or loss of a perfect season -- Moon didn't hesitate.

"The fact we lost in the championship game," she said. "That's what we were playing for -- and I don't think they want to experience that feeling again."

But from the outset, it appeared as if maybe the Lady Bearcats may have mentally gone on holiday early.

The Lady Bulldogs exploded for a 28-11 lead in the first quarter and forced Bainbridge to play from behind the entire time.

"We never led," Moon said. "Not once."

Down by 10 at halftime, Bainbridge had seen bigger deficits before -- only they were usually on the other end.

While Thomasville -- which was led by Kierrica Spencer's game-high 21 points -- was out to prove an early season loss to Bainbridge was still on its mind.

"Awesome, awesome feeling, wonderful feeling for a first-time head coach, and for the kids," Thomasville coach Thomas MacAboy told the Thomasville Times-Enterprise. "Definitely for the kids. They really wanted to play Bainbridge. They proved to me that they had the energy to come out and do what it takes to replace the loss over at their place."

It was the third straight double-digit win for Thomasville in the Hoopfest, beating Baker County on Monday and Pelham on Tuesday.

Defense highlighted Thomasville's first two wins. But on Wednesday, it was shooting -- especially from behind the 3-point line -- that carried the Lady Bulldogs to arguably their biggest win of the 2009-10 season thus far.

Whether it was Kierrica Spencer or Audreka Davis or Carmenonique Dawson, Thomasville caught fire and never cooled off. Five long-range treys sparked Thomasville's first-half run and it finished with seven in the game. Spencer, Davis and Dawson each had two 3-pointers and Alexia Brown added one as well.

"Sometimes you live and die by them, and we were able to live by them (Wednesday night)," MacAboy added.

Bainbridge, which was led by Alexis Burke's 18 points, was able to cut Thomasville's lead to no fewer than eight points in the second half. Thomasville attacked the basket constantly and was able to capitalize at the charity stripe. The Lady Bulldogs converted 13-of-20 from the free throw line after halftime.

"That was the halftime speech. If shots weren't falling, lets attack the bucket and the refs were making calls," MacAboy said. "The best two players from both teams fouled out. That's a testimony to both teams attacking the basket and getting a lot of shots inside in the second half."

Nonetheless, as the fouls kept piling up, Moon watched as time ticked down on her team's first loss of the season.

Although, like most any coach would after a tough defeat, she said she hoped more good than bad would come from her girls' first taste of defeat.

"I'm glad the loss came now instead of later, because now they have two weeks to think about it (before we play again)," said Moon, whose team won't resume play until after the New Year when it hosts Colquitt County on Jan. 8. "I told them when you don't play hard, you can't expect to win. Just because we're Bainbridge, you can't expect teams just to give it to us."

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Thomsville Times-Enterprise sports editor Clint Thompson contributed to this story