Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

ALBANY -- It's hard to tell who started it. Maybe it was Kendal Hicks, or Marcus Brunson or Darrell Anthony or Ted Washington.

But before anyone realized it just about every player on the Dougherty boys basketball team was shouting: "Bounce back! Bounce back! Bounce back!''

A big bounce, at that -- one that sent a ricochet effect all over Region 1-AAA.

The Trojans not only bounced back from two tough region losses last week and an earlier loss to Westover, but they bounced Monroe right into first place in the Region 1-AAA race.

They did all that and more by beating Herald No. 4 Westover, 66-61, on Tuesday night in a Dougherty gym that felt like a sauna.

No sweat for the Trojans, who once again were led by Herald Super 6er McArthur Gaines. Gaines poured in 25 points and ran the floor like a rabbit all night, bringing down a standing-room-only crowd with some highlight drives to the basket -- to go along with six steals, four assists and a weaving act in and out of most of the Westover defense in the fourth quarter when Dougherty was trying to run time off the clock.

"This was an important win for us,'' said Gaines, who scored 28 in a three-point loss at Westover earlier this season. "We lost two big region games and had to come back. We needed this one.''

The win kept Dougherty (8-4 overall) in the hunt of the region race, despite dropping a 52-51 game to Worth County and falling, 78-76, to Cairo last week, which left the Trojans at 3-4 in the region.

They're now 4-4, and gaining ground on Westover, which fell to 5-2.

The loss opened the way for Monroe, which beat Crisp County, 53-42, on Tuesday, to move into a first place tie with Westover at 5-2, but Monroe owns the head-to-head edge and at the moment is the top seed in Region 1-AAA. Monroe also beat Dougherty earlier.

Imagine, Dougherty shoving Monroe into first place?

"I don't care,'' Gaines said. "It doesn't bother us. We know we will play Monroe later.''

Dougherty got its biggest push of the night to start the second half. After ripping off a 21-10 lead early, Dougherty watched Westover storm back to take a 26-25 edge when Dequan Green busted a 3-pointer to highlight a 16-4 run in which Green scored 11 points and handed out an assist.

Then the Trojans ended the half with a 15-7 run and led, 40-33, thanks to Gaines, who had 15 first-half points. Green had 20 for Westover before the half, but was shutout in the second, finishing with 21 points. Dougherty ripped off a 9-1 run to start the second half, and took the biggest lead of the night, 49-34.

"We played hard in those two losses, and we played hard (Tuesday night),'' Dougherty coach Donald Poole said. "But then we let them get back in the game. We still have to learn to take care of the ball at the end of the game. We just have to keep playing hard. You have to every night in this region.''

Poole had his team wind down the clock with every possession in the fourth quarter and Westover, inspired by sophomore Josh Black, who scored eight of his 11 points in the fourth, came back to make it 59-55 when Joseph Harrell, who sat out the first half because of disciplinary reasons, hit a put-back with 2:41 left.

Gaines answered Harrell's put-back with a drive through traffic to make it 61-56 with 2:10 left, and then added three free throws down the stretch to build the lead to 64-56 with 49 seconds left.

"They just got out in front (and we couldn't catch them),'' said Westover's Herald Super 6er Malcolm Sapp, who finished with 10 points.

Dougherty also got a big game from Chris Holmes, who scored 14.

"Dougherty played hard, but we just didn't play Westover ball,'' said Westover coach Dallis Smith, who had to watch his team get hit with two technicals and an intentional foul in the first half that aided Dougherty's early runs. "You have to be mentally ready (for a game like this), and sometimes this year we haven't been.

"That's not Westover. We don't do that. Dougherty played hard, but we just didn't step up.''

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WESTOVER GIRLS 51, DOUGHERTY 43:

DyTiesha Dunson was smiling -- one of those big smiles that was more about Westover's inspiring win against Dougherty than her return to the court. Dunson, a Herald Super 6er and Westover's leader in scoring, rebounding and assists, has missed three games with a knee injury.

Dunson will be back this weekend, but the Lady Patriots, who had lost two of three without her coming into Tuesday's game, proved they didn't need her in a huge Region 1-AAA victory against city rival Dougherty.

"I knew they could win without me,'' said Dunson, who knew the victory kept Westover in first place in the Region 1-AAA race.

A Dougherty win would've forged a four-way tie for first with Herald No. 2 Westover, No. 3 Dougherty, Monroe and No. 1 Americus-Sumter.

But Westover is still on top, thanks in great part to sophomore Shantaria Williams, who scored 12 points, grabbed nine rebounds and made four steals. Williams, who is the daughter of Cincinnati great, NBA player and Westover legend Dontonio Wingfield, has been playing hoops since she was 8 years old.

"I'm playing her because she can rebound,'' said Westover coach Lewis Smith, who had to shuffle his lineup when Dunson went out.

"She is going to have a lot of double-rebound nights.''

Williams knew how big the game was.

"I was nervous at first, but then I overcame my fear because my team needed me,'' Williams said. "They needed me and I just stepped up.''

Westover is now 16-3 overall, and the top team in the Region 1-AAA race with a 5-1 mark. And Dunson will be back this weekend. Westover hosts Cairo on Friday, then plays Terrell County on Saturday at the Civic Center.

"We're going to ease her into it,'' Smith said. "It was (hard without her in there), but a week makes a big difference. Once we had a chance to practice together and redefine the roles, we started playing better.''

The two rivals swapped the lead six times in the first half before Westover, which had big nights from Super 6er Ieshia Young (11 points) and Cessily Colwell (9 points) went on a 9-0 run that was capped by a 3-pointer by Colwell to take a 34-24 lead.

Dougherty (12-4 and 5-3 in the region) came back to close to seven points as Kiandra Guilford scored nine of her 13 points in the fourth quarter.

"We came back, but we made only 4 of 15 free throws and we turned the ball over 32 times, and we lost the game by (eight) points,'' Dougherty coach Charlene Jackson said. "We just didn't make the big plays. Sometimes the kids don't realize the importance of setting their own destiny. This was a big opportunity for us to do that.''