ALBANY -- Dougherty High's girls are in the dance, but Lady Trojans head coach Charlene Jackson was already conversing with the enemy before the night was over.
Dougherty stamped its ticket to the state tournament with a 56-47 win against Cairo High in the first round of the Region 1-AAA tournament Tuesday at Dougherty. There in the corner of the gym, Jackson and Americus-Sumter head coach Evelyn Wright, who will face the Lady Trojans on Thursday at 4p.m., were talking as Jackson held tight to a bag of popcorn.
"She came over to get some popcorn," Jackson said of Wright's motives. "She thought she was going to put her hand in my bag, but I wouldn't let her do that. I told her, 'Don't try to butter me up.' "
All puns aside, Jackson and her Lady Trojans still have work to do. Dougherty (16-6) will need to upset Americus on Thursday inside Westover's gym to earn the right to host a first-round game in the Class AAA playoffs. Americus, the No. 2 seed in Region 1-AAA, had a bye in the first round and has already beaten Dougherty twice this season.
"Considering the fact that last year we lost in the first round (of region), it's an accomplishment that we made it (to state)," Jackson said. "We still have a lot of things to work on to get us where we want to be."
On Tuesday, Dougherty crushed Cairo (7-17) on the boards and led by as many as 21 in the second half, thanks to 16 points from Jasmine Lavant.
The Lady Trojans also got 12 points and 12 boards from Terrianna Martin. Ra'Keta Shelton added 12 points, 11 in the second half, to send the Lady Trojans to the next round in the region playoffs.
Cairo got as close as six in the third quarter, but was outscored, 12-1, the first five minutes of the fourth. Alex Tise led the Syrupmaids with 19 points. LaNeyshia Barber scored 16.
CRISP COUNTY GIRLS 62, MONROE 61:
Monroe's season came to a disappointing end in the first round of the region playoffs after a furious fourth-quarter rally came up short.
Ashley Johnson scored a game-high 27 points after seeing the Lady Tornadoes trail by 10 at halftime, but her shot with less than two seconds left rimmed out and ended Monroe's season much earlier than coach Cheryl Cheeks had planned it.
"I just told them to keep their head up," said Cheeks, whose final record ends at 15-11. "We didn't want it to end this way -- or this early -- but we have to move on."
Crisp County led, 46-38, after three before Monroe scored 23 points in the fourth quarter only to run out of time.
Super 6er Sheniqua Young was held to 11 points, while the Lady Cougars got 18 from Kiedra Green.
DOUGHERY BOYS 75, AMERICUS-SUMTER 49:
ALBANY -- Dougherty High will get a third crack at Monroe thanks to Tuesday's 75-49 win against Americus-Sumter in the first round of the Region 1-AAA tournament.
The Trojans (12-6) scored 24 points in the first quarter, capped off by Tim Washington's alley-oop slam, and then ran away from Americus, one night after the Panthers escaped against Worth County in overtime to get into the region tourney.
"We played a little bit better ball," Trojans head coach Donald Poole said. "We played a little more together."
Dougherty will face Monroe on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at Westover with a top playoff seeding on the line. Of course, the Trojans made a run to the Elite Eight last year as a No. 3 seed by winning on the road, but Poole doesn't want to have to do that again if he can avoid it.
"We can't live off last year," Poole said. "It's nice to be a 1 or 2 (seed), but you've still got to play basketball."
Herald Super 6er McArthur Gaines led Dougherty Tuesday with 17 points, while Washington and Chris Holmes scored 13. Joshua Christian scored nine in the win.
Lakista McCuller scored 18 for the Panthers, who end their season at 8-18.
Herald No. 4 Dougherty led, 24-16, after one quarter and then outscored Americus 22-9 in the second quarter to put the game away.
In the early first round boys game, Crisp County beat Cairo, 60-56, and will face Westover on Thursday at 8:30 p.m. in the Boston Garden.