ALBANY -- Those screams you heard from Northwest Albany Thursday night belonged to the Dougherty girls, who left the Westover court shouting and screaming, dancing their way to the locker room.
Go ahead and shout a bit -- let them hear you all the way back across the river, because Dougherty's girls came over the river and pulled off the biggest upset in the Region 1-AAA tournament so far, knocking off No. 2 seed Americus-Sumter, 66-60, to advance to tonight's finals against Westover.
"It's been a while since we played in a region final,'' said Dougherty coach Charlene Jackson, who gave her kids a perfect game plan to pull off the upset.
And then they followed it to the letter.
Sure, Herald No. 4 Dougherty had lost twice to the No. 3 Lady Panthers, who had been ranked as high as No. 1 in The Herald this season, but this round was different. It was all Dougherty, which took a 7-5 lead on Jasmine Lavant's put-back and then never looked back.
Lavant had an incredible night, scoring 10 fourth-quarter points to put this one away. Lavant, who sat out almost the entire second quarter in foul trouble, finished with 19 points, seven rebounds and two blocked shots. She all but served notice early and often that if you were going to beat the Lady Trojans, you would have to step inside to do it.
"Being a senior, she was determined to step up and have the kind of game we thought she should have,'' Jackson said.
Americus-Sumter just couldn't stop the points in the paint.
Lavant had 19, and Terrianna Martin and Jayla Hooper each scored 12 as Dougherty poured in 43 points inside to paint a pretty picture that means Dougherty will finish no worse than second in the region and is guaranteed a home game in the first round of the state playoffs next week.
"Like anyone, you always want more,'' said Jackson, knowing what a region title would mean.
The Lady Trojans, who face Herald No. 1 top-seed Westover tonight in the final back at Westover, have played the Lady Patriots tough twice, losing both.
Then again, they had lost twice to Americus-Sumter, which once again was led by Herald Super 6er Jayme Gilbert, who scored 19 points. Adasjah Mercer had a monster night on the boards with 15 for the Lady Panthers, who will meet Crisp County tonight in the consolation round.
"We have to go on the road (next week),'' Americus-Sumter coach Evelyn Wright said. "We might upset someone on the road. This game might be an eye-opener for us.''
Dougherty opened a lot of eyes, running the court and making big passes inside all night.
"We gave up too many easy baskets,'' Wright said. "We weren't getting on defense. That was the difference.''
And Dougherty just kept coming.
"They did all the things we asked them to do,'' Jackson said. "They stayed with the game plan. It feels great to be in the region final.''
Go ahead a shout a bit.