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Crisp beats TAE in battle of defending state champs

Photo by Nate McCullough

Photo by Nate McCullough

DAWSON — In a battle of GISA state champs, Crisp Academy pulled away from Terrell Academy to beat the Lady Eagles, 43-35, Thursday night at TAE.

“They’re the Class AA state champs and we’re the Class A state champs, so this was a big game,’’ Crisp coach Gina Mitchell said. “They used to be big rivals when we were both in Class A, and have always had this tradition of being rivals. It carried over (into this game) and we did what we had to do.’’

Crisp was led by Madi Mitchell, who scored 23 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. It was Mitchell who put the game away in the final minute, hitting three of four free throws down the stretch.

Terrell Academy, which trailed 22-13 at halftime, came back to make it close and closed to within four points when Lauren Barfield hit her third 3-pointer of the night with about three minutes left in the game.

But Crisp, which had a nightmarish night at the free throw line, slowed the ball down, spread the offense and waited for the fouls to come. When they did, Mitchell nailed the crucial free throws.

“Free throws killed us all night,’’ Gina Mitchell said. “We missed nine free throws in the fourth quarter, but she made three of the last four.’’

Gina Mitchell said her guards, Kristen Greene, Kayla Childers and Kara White all played well, and Kendall Wilson was the team’s second leading scorer with six points.

“This was a big game,’’ Gina Mitchell said. “This gives us a lot of confidence.’’

Terrell Academy was led by Alex Barfield (14 points) and Lauren Barfield (11 points), but got off to a slow start.

“We scored 13 points in the first half,’’ TAE coach Keith Jones said. “I can’t remember the last time that happened. We couldn’t drop-kick the ball in the ocean the first half. We just couldn’t get anything going. We played much better in the second half.’’

Terrell Academy (4-2) has lost twice to Crisp County (5-3). Terrell Academy won the GISA Class AA state title last year while Crisp won the Class A state championship against Westwood. TAE and Crisp used to be in the same region two years ago when Terrell Academy won the Class A state title, but TAE moved up to Class AA last year.

“It would have been more exciting if it was the same two teams from last year,’’ Jones said. “We graduated three starters. Crisp was trying to prove a point. We’re trying trying to learn to play with a whole new group.’’