REGION 3-AA TOURNAMENT: TAE girls win crown, state title defense on track

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

DAWSON -- The third time is the charm.

That's the case of the Terrell Academy girls team basketball who, after losing to Brookwood twice in the regular season, flipped the script in dominating fashion as the Lady Eagles took home the Region 3-AA title on their home floor with a 68-54 win on Friday night.

"We are who we are," TAE coach Keith Jones said. "We press and we play man-to-man (defense)."

Maybe that's why this meeting had a different outcome than the regular-season games. TAE tried a number of exotic defensive schemes to try and cool down Brookwood's lefty scoring machine Lauren Johnson, which resulted in a number of easy looks for her teammates. But in the region championship, Jones had his girls play strictly straight up defense with the idea of letting Johnson try to beat them by herself.

It worked.

The strategy forced a number of bad Brookwood shots, leaving Johnson and her teammates standing out of position for a offensive rebound. This allowed TAE to get easy transition points and build a double-digit lead with (26-16) with 2:28 left in the second quarter.

After that, it was a matter of holding on from then.

"We were going to play our style whether we win or we lose." Jones said.

TAE had big-time games from senior's Millie Foster and Carley Law.

Foster lit it up from downtown with four 3-pointers on her way to a team-high 22 points, while Law did much of her damage in the second half, scoring 17 of her 21 points. Alex Barfield had a productive first half for TAE on the defensive end and finished with 15 points.

"I thought we finally played as a team and we had not done that all year," Foster said. "It's very important that we are together as a team at this time of the year."

Johnson led all scorers with 30 hard-earned points but she could have used some more help on the offensive end.

TAE, which won the last two GISA Class A state titles before moving up to Class AA this year, will enter the state tournament as a No. 1 seed and host the first round.

"These starters have been in the state championship game two years in a row," Jones said. "And our goal is to get back. "But everybody knows you are not going to win a state championship without a little luck," Jones added.