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Knights rule the region again

Photo by Scott Chancey

Photo by Scott Chancey

AMERICUS -- Reggie Brown just couldn't contain that big 'ole grin holding the GISA Region 3-AAA championship trophy.

The Deerfield-Windsor senior who plays for coach Gordy Gruhl wasn't going to turn it loose without a tug-of-war, either.

"It feels real nice," said Brown, who really never played for a championship contender at Albany High before moving over to Deerfield. "It's real exciting. We're keeping a countdown (of games left to win a state championship)."

That countdown now stands at four games after the Knights (24-1) captured their sixth region championship in a row Saturday with a 61-44 win over Westfield School, playing on the home floor of rival Southland Academy. The game was moved to Southland after Friday's game at Georgia Southwestern, which played at home Saturday, had to be cancelled due to inclement weather.

Deerfield moves on to play The Weber School, a No. 4 seed from Region 1-AAA, Thursday at 8:30 p.m. in the first round of the GISA Class AAA state playoffs at First Presbyterian Christian in Macon. Second round games will be played at Tattnall Square in Macon.

"It's fun to win this (region title) every year, but this isn't the one we want," said Knights' senior Michael Matthews, who scored a game-high 19 points in the region title game Saturday. "We want the one in two weeks. Hopefully we can get it done this year."

Deerfield bullied Westfield (13-11) most of the night, jumping out to a 33-14 halftime lead. The Hornets, the No. 2 seed from Region 3-AAA, cut that lead to 52-37 on a layup by Wesley Murph, but that was as close as they would get. Murph led Westfield with 15 points, but was the only Hornet to score in double figures.

"It's nice to win that sixth one in a row," Gruhl said. "These seniors have never lost one and that's special. They're hungry for that state championship. I fully expect somebody's going to have to beat them. We're not going to give it away."

Brown, the 6-foot-6 Herald Super 6er, controlled the inside early against Westfield, scoring 10 points in the first half before finishing with 17. Brown, along with senior starters Matthews, Jordan Alexander and Shaun Jones, will be key if another state title run is in the cards.

"He's a great pickup, a great part of the team and a great guy," Matthews said of Brown. "We love him to death."

WESTFIELD GIRLS 40, DWS 38: Westfield likes the feel of the underdog label.

After the Lady Hornets lost to fourth-seeded Deerfield-Windsor last year in the region championship, this time around the Lady Knights were the top seed and Westfield pulled the upset, although both teams split during the season and were considered near equals.

"The underdog role is a little bit better," Westfield head coach Jeff Eubanks said after his team rebounded from a horrid first quarter to win the region championship after two previous years of frustration.

The score at the end of the first quarter looked like this: Deerfield 9, Westfield 0. Of course, 0-for-10 shooting starts like Saturday's first quarter are nothing new for the Lady Hornets (15-11).

"We've had a half when we didn't score but four (points)," Eubanks said. "We're learned not to panic."

Deerfield's pressure defense led the Lady Knights to a 17-8 halftime lead, but Westfield won the third quarter by an 18-10 margin and held on down the stretch.

We played good defense the whole game," said Deerfield coach Ty Kinslow, whose 20-7 team will the No. 2 seed headed into state playoffs. "We gave them a little life and they knocked their free throws down at the end and we didn't. They all look big at the end."

Westfield's free throw shooting Saturday, and all year for that matter, has been "sporadic," as Eubanks put it. They hit on just 2-of-10 from the charity stripe in the first half, but made 18-of-23 in the second half. Deerfield made just 7-of-20 free throws.

"This is not the end of the year," Kinslow said. "Looking at the brackets, it'll be a little bit tougher coming out as a two seed. You get beat now, you're finished."

Deerfield had no one score in double figures, but got seven points each from Lauren Fulford and Miranda Phillips. Westfield was led by Haley Way's 12 points and also got nine from Sheldon Hiley, both of whom combined to hit 13-of-16 free throws.

The Lady Knights will play Wednesday in the first round of the state playoffs at FPD against an undetermined opponent. Weather pushed the Region 1-AAA tournament finals off until Monday. The No. 3 seed from that region will face the Lady Knights in the first round.

SOUTHLAND BOYS 48, CALVARY CHRISTIAN 41: Southland wrapped up the No. 3 seed from Region 3-AAA and will play Thursday in Macon against the No. 2 seed from Region 1-AAA in the first round of the state playoffs.

Andres Chaparo scored 12 to lead the Raiders, while Jose Hernandez led with 17.

SOUTHLAND GIRLS 59, BROOKWOOD 43: The Lady Raiders are also the No. 3 seed from Region 3-AAA headed into the state tournament and were led Saturday by 18 points each from Sarah Schuster and Tobi West. They will play Wednesday in Macon in the first round of the state playoffs.

GISA Region 3-A

TERRELL ACADEMY GIRLS 56, CRISP ACADEMY 51: In a game that was knotted at 39 going into the final quarter, Terrell Academy connected on 10-of-13 free-throws in the end to edge out Crisp Academy to win the GISA 3-A region tournament.

"We hit our free throws," Terrell Academy head coach Keith Jones said. "That was the difference."

Marlee Locke (13 points), Alex Barfield (12) and Millie Foster (11) came to play for Terrell Academy.

"Marlee played a smart game," Jones said.

With Terrell Academy trailing 12-7 after the end of the first quarter, Locke scored 10 second-quarter points to give her team a 32-35 lead going into halftime.

On the other side, Madi Foster had a sensational performance with a game-high 18 points for Crisp Academy. Kristin Green also had a big game for Crisp Academy with 16 points.

Late in the fourth quarter with Crisp threatening, Terrell Academy made some key shots that gave it a comfortable lead which allowed the Lady Eagles to hold the ball and force Crisp Academy to foul, which led to Terrell sealing the win.

RANDOLPH SOUTHERN 39, WESTWOOD 37: The Patriots (12-11) clinched the third seed from GISA Region 3-A and advance to the state tourney Thursday at Andrew College to play at a time to be determined.

Kevin Melton made three 3-pointers in the second half to spark the Patriots, who trailed by five at halftime.

"We just did a really good job of keeping our composure," Patriots coach Robert Bryant said. "Those three 3-pointers by Kevin really sparked us; and on defense, everyone worked hard."

Westwood was led by Andrew Adams' 14 points.