Darton women's hoops flattens Faulkner, 76-40

Darton freshman Michelle Mitchell (21) races down the court on a fastbreak during Wednesday's home win against Faulkner State.

Darton freshman Michelle Mitchell (21) races down the court on a fastbreak during Wednesday's home win against Faulkner State.

ALBANY -- In her 17 years as head coach of the Faulkner State women's basketball team, Linda Pitts has faced off against her fair share of Darton squads.

After the Lady Cavs soundly defeated Faulkner State, 76-40, on Wednesday, Pitts was sure of one thing after watching Darton freshman Michelle Mitchell put up 20 points and grab eight rebounds.

"She is one of the best players to ever come through Darton," Pitts said. "She is a pretty phenomenal player."

And she has a pretty phenomenal teammate, too.

Chanteniece Fann also scored 20 points against the visiting Lady Sun Chiefs, who had no answer for either 5-foot-9 former Georgia prep stars. Mitchell, a Dodge County grad, and Fann, a Northside, Warner Robbins grad, have been the cornerstone of the Lady Cavs (4-1) all season.

And Wednesday night was no exception.

Fann did her damage in the first half, when she scored 14 of her points and was a perfect 6-for-6 from the field. Mitchell then turned it on in the second half, netting 12 points and hitting six of her eight field goals. It's a combination that Darton first-year coach Lea Henry has relied on to lead her undersized Lady Cavs.

"They consistently play well for us," Henry said. "That's the best word I can use. They are consistent day in and day out in practice and in games. Both of those players understand that in order for us to play well, they have to play well."

Mitchell and Fann playing well on the same basketball court isn't anything new for the duo, which played against each other in high school and then played on the same AAU team -- the Georgia Blazers out of Montezuma.

"We talk all the time. It's usually the two of us on the same side, so we make it two vs. two," said Fann, who is also roommates with Mitchell. "We work really good together."

While Mitchell and Fann were dominating on the offensive side, the entire Darton team was causing havoc on the defensive end -- something that Henry has made a staple since taking over the Lady Cavs in May. They forced 26 turnovers and had 11 steals against a Faulkner State team that was playing without its top two point guards.

That defense helped Darton get out to an 8-0 lead and never look back. The Lady Cavs led by 15 points at halftime and then pulled away in the second half, outscoring Faulkner State (1-6), 41-20, in the last 20 minutes.

"Our players understand that it starts with our defense, and we are very pleased with their commitment," Henry said. "We really do put pretty good pressure on the ball. I think our pressure on the defensive end, we couldn't ask for any more."

Mitchell had two steals and was able to create points off of turnovers and defensive rebounds that she grabbed and then pushed up the court.

"Coach tells us to work hard and just get every loose ball that we can," Mitchell said. "We want to win, so we have to work hard on defense. Defense will win games for us."

Pitts said that having her top two ball handlers out of the game made it nearly impossible to face a Darton team that applies pressure as soon as the ball is inbounded.

"This was a traditional Darton team," said Pitts, who has no returning starters on her team. "They have always been very aggressive, and they have always been very quick."

Fann and Mitchell weren't the only Lady Cavs finding success on the offensive end. Former Dougherty star LaKandra Beeks and starting point guard Lauren Johnson each scored eight points, while Christina Brown added seven and Jo Jo Smalls had five.

Faulkner State was led by Jamesha Watkins (10 points), Johnquesha Childs (eight points) and Brianca Crenshaw (seven points, eight rebounds).

The Lady Cavs have two days off before playing back-to-back conference games against Middle Georgia College and Andrew College on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.