There was cheering in Dawson on Friday night -- and heartbreak in Albany.
That's because the Terrell Academy girls made it back to yet another GISA Class A Final Four after a 56-20 rout of Georgia Christian in the state quarterfinals on Friday, while the Lady Eagles' neighbors down the road at Deerfield couldn't beat Tattnall Square in the two teams' third meeting of the season -- all of which were won by the Lady Vikings, including Friday's showdown, 48-43.
"We really got after (Georgia Christian's) fannies (Friday night)," Terrell Academy coach Keith Jones said. "We just played great defense -- maybe the best all year."
The win propels the Lady Eagles back into the state semis, where Friday at 2:30 p.m. in Milledgeville they'll face David Emanuel -- a team that beat TAE twice this year.
"They were both close ball games," said Jones, whose team was led by Alex Barfield (13 points) and Millie Foster (12) in Friday's win. "They have size and we don't. But if we keep playing like we have ... let's put it this way -- don't count us out."
Jones added he wasn't surprised that his girls got themselves back in a position to defend their Class A state championship -- even if others were.
"I think early in the season, a lot of people lost faith," said Jones, whose team sat at 5-6 at the Christmas break. "We were struggling, yes, but what some didn't understand was that after last season, I wanted to make our schedule this year as tough as it could possibly be to prepare us (for another run). So early on, were playing the best there was in Class AA and AAA -- and it was brutal."
Instead, Jones' team -- that and returned three from last season's state title squad (Marlee Locke, Foster and Barfield), but doesn't have a senior starter on its roster -- persevered and went on a tear.
A tear that now has them in firm position to repeat.
"They say there's such a thing as good losses and I think those losses early made us into the team we are now," the coach said. "Now let's just hope we can finish the job."
Interestingly enough, last year's GISA Class A Final Four featured three teams from Terrell's Region 3-A, including the Lady Eagles.
And this year's no different.
On the other side of the bracket is Fullington Academy and Crisp Academy. Terrell beat Fullington twice and split with Crisp during the regular season before beating Crisp a second time in the region championship last week.
"I think it says a lot about our region," Jones said. "Now let's just hope one of us wins it."
DWS ENDS SEASON WITH 21 WINS -- BUT JUST SHORT OF FINAL FOUR:
DWS coach Ty Kinslow said it best after Friday's loss that ended the Lady Knights' season one win short of the Final Four at 21-8.
"We have a lot to be proud of," Kinslow said. "This is a young team who did some things I don't think many thought we could. The girls are disappointed right now, but in the long run they can look back and know what a great year this was."
And it almost became better if not for those pesky Lady Trojans.
With the score tied at 42-42 with less than a minute to go, the Lady Trojans took the lead on an inside score by forward Shanice Stanley, who scored 13 points despite battling foul trouble.
But Tattnall still needed a defensive stand to lock up its trip to the Final Four.
Trailing by two points, Deerfield went downcourt looking to either tie the game or take the lead. But when Courtney Kelson's shot bounced off the rim and the defensive rebound was tipped to Tattnall's Faren Harris, the Lady Trojans managed the game for the final 40 seconds thanks to clutch free throws.
Both the Lady Knights and Lady Trojans engaged in a back-and-forth contest throughout the night with neither team leading by more than seven points.
However, scoring was an issue for DWS, which had no players in double figures. Sabrina Curry led the way with 9, and Morgan Phillips added 7.
Kinslow said his girls would now become cheerleaders for the boys team during the remainder of their run.
DWS plays Mount de Sales today at 2:30 p.m. with a trip to the Final Four on the line.