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GHSA REGION 1-AAA GIRLS CHAMPIONSHIP: Dougherty stuns Westover, 23-19, for title

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

ALBANY -- Dougherty's girls beat Herald No. 1 Westover, 23-19, to win the Region 1-AAA title on Friday in front of a standing-room-only crowd at Westover.

That's right, 23-19. That's no misprint, that's the final score -- honest.

But Dougherty didn't care, not even a little. The Lady Trojans, who had lost to Westover (23-4) by double digits twice already this season, celebrated like crazy right there on Westover's court.

"It just feels special, real special,'' said Jasmine Lavant, who led Dougherty with eight points on a night when two points felt like 20. "Everybody kept saying we couldn't beat Westover. We never got down (when we were missing shots), we just concentrated on playing hard on defense.''

Dougherty's girls didn't even care that they didn't score in the first quarter. It looked like no one would score, and Westover took a 2-0 lead into the second when Super 6er DyTiesha Dunson hit a drive with 2:02 left in the first. The two teams combined to go 1 for 21 from the field, and were a combined 3 for 44 at halftime.

Dougherty (16-7), ranked No. 4 in The Herald, took control on Kiandra Guilford's 3-pointer. Guilford also hit a pair of free throws to give the Lady Trojans a 5-4 halftime lead. She finished with five points.

Quanneshia Gatlin finished with four -- all crucial free throws in the final 35 seconds of the game. She made 4 of 6, including a pair with 31 seconds left that gave Dougherty a 22-18 lead.

Dunson hit a free throw with 25 seconds left to close to 22-19 -- and that was Westover's first free-throw attempt of the night. Gatlin's final free throw put it away with 5.5 seconds left.

Dougherty took a 13-10 lead into the fourth, thanks to Lavant, who hit back-to-back inside shots to erase a 10-9 deficit. She opened the fourth with a pair of free throws to make it a 15-10 game, and Jayla Hooper hit a shot to lift Dougherty to a 17-10 edge with 5:10 left. But Dunson and Super 6er Ieshia Young hit back-to-back 3s and Cessily Colwell hit an outside shot to lift Westover to its final lead of the night, 18-17. But Lavant answered with a turn-around shot with 2:16 left for 1 19-18 lead, and Westover didn't score again until Dunson's free throw with 25 seconds left.

"I've seen games like this,'' Westover coach Lewis Smith said. "We just didn't make shots. We had some easy shots, some open shots, but we just didn't make them. We took quality shots."

Smith added that it wasn't just an overwhelming defense by Dougherty, but also poor shooting.

"Dougherty's defense was good, but it was no different than it has been all year,'' he said. "We just didn't knock our shots down. And as the game wore on, their confidence got better and better.''

Dougherty coach Charlene Jackson, who once coached at Westover, was elated.

"This is something we've been working on since last summer,'' she said. "It's been a while since Dougherty has won a region title, and it feels great to win it here, where I won titles for Westover. "The game had so much hype that I think both teams were missing all those shots because of the adrenaline. But we just told them to relax and to concentrate on playing defense the way we play defense. People may say it's an upset -- but I don't think it was an upset.''