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DWS girls nearly down state power Tiftarea; Knights win in rout

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

ALBANY -- Deerfield-Windsor's girls wanted to see how they would fair against one of the state's best GISA teams in a lower classification.

Tiftarea, meanwhile, just wanted to be challenged.

Both teams got their wish Friday, but the Class AA Lady Panthers proved their 20-1 record was legit by pulling out a 48-46 win against Class AAA Deerfield.

Deerfield, which was without forward Miranda Phillips due to sickness, had a chance to go ahead in the final seconds, but Courtney Kelson's three was just off the mark with five seconds to play.

"We had a shot to win it at the end and that's what you ask for," DWS girls head coach Ty Kinslow said. "I thought we did a really good job of battling, playing hard and playing together. They're a very talented team."

The Lady Knights (16-6) trailed, 48-41, with 1:07 to play, but turned the tables with a 3-pointer by Kelson and then a steal on the inbounds and layup by Sabrina Curry to cut the Tiftarea lead to 48-46 with 37 seconds left.

"We just about went from the penthouse to the outhouse," Lady Panthers coach John O'Brien said.

Tiftarea, considered one of the top three teams in GISA Class AA with Arlington and Robert Toombs, had rarely been challenged aside from a loss to Class AAA Trinity Christian.

"I said (Friday's) game will simulate the state tournament," O'Brien told his team.

Deerfield led, 23-22, at the half, but hit just 3-of-9 free throws in the loss, the Lady Knights second in a row. Friday's loss was disappointing, but the effort was there, Curry said.

"We stepped up like we should have (late in the game)," she said. "I think we did a great job defensively."

Tiftarea junior forward Shamonica Fowler dropped in a game-high 19 points, scoring on five consecutive possessions in the second half to put the Lady Panthers ahead for good. Blair Savelli added 10 points in the win.

Deerfield was led by Heather Lash's 14 points, while Sarah Shellhaas chipped in 10.

The Lady Knights close out the regular season next week with GISA Region 3-AAA games at home against Brookwood on Tuesday and Southland on Saturday.

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DEERFIELD BOYS 99, TIFTAREA 39:

The Knights' run for triple digits came up short Friday, but it was more than enough in a non-region tuneup for the final week of the regular season.

"There's not much difference between 99 and 100," DWS boys head coach Gordy Gruhl said.

Deerfield's Michael Matthews, who was honored Friday as the 16th player in school history to reach the 1,000-point mark, hit five 3-pointers and scored 21 points as the Knights shot out to a 52-25 halftime lead.

Reggie Brown led all scorers with 24 points. Banks Kinslow added 12 and Ramello Carter had 10.

"I thought we did a great job of running our half-court offense against the zone," Gruhl said. "It was far and away the best performance against the zone we've had all year."

Tiftarea was led by Colby Czerepinski's 13 points.