ALBANY -- She's back.
Maybe not all the way back, but DyTiesha Dunson is on her way, just in time for the stretch run to the postseason. Those baby steps she took Saturday afternoon at the Albany Civic Center in a 40-24 win against Terrell County could signal a new start for a Westover team that learned to win without The Herald Super 6er, and may be -- in the long run -- a better team in the playoffs.
Dunson missed two weeks with a knee injury, and Westover, which has lost three times all year, dropped the first two games she missed, before rebounding with four wins in a row, including a huge 51-43 win against region and city rival Dougherty on Tuesday.
"It felt great to be back,'' Dunson said. "It felt like I had been gone for a year. We have to get back in the flow of things. It will probably take one good practice.''
She played in spurts Saturday, spending half the time on the bench, but still led Westover with 10 points. Super 6er Ieshia Young and Kahler Fletcher each scored eight in the low-scoring game.
The Lady Patriots, ranked No. 2 in The Herald, played without Cessily Colwell, who had a collision with a Cairo player on Friday night, but Colwell said she hoped to be back on Tuesday.
Take notice of Terrell County's Lady Greenwave, who could be the sleepers in next month's Region 1-A tournament. There's a toughness to them, especially on defense, and coach Tammye Jenkins' kids are starting to learn how to win. They had won two of their last three, including a victory against Randolph-Clay, before Saturday, and they played tough against Westover (18-3) all afternoon.
Terrell County (4-14) trailed only 9-6 after the first quarter and was down 30-20 as the two teams headed into the fourth quarter. But Dunson hit back-to-back drives to lift Westover to a 36-22 lead with 6:00 left and Terrell County had trouble scoring the rest of the way as several drives bounced in and out.
Terrell County was led by freshman Takarian Jordan (7 points) and Cortisha Schley (7 points).
"I see some improvement,'' Jenkins said. "We just missed too many free throws and too many layups. We just couldn't get it going offensively.''
DOUGHRTY GIRLS 43 Albany 20:
Maybe Dougherty's girls basketball team should play all its games at the Civic Center. The Lady Trojans are unbeaten in two games there. They beat city and region rival Monroe, 51-50, on Jan. 7, and were impressive Saturday night against Albany, jumping out to an 8-0 lead and never looking back.
Dougherty (13-5) bounced back from two tough region losses to Westover and Crisp this week, and had an easy time with a short-handed Albany High (4-10) team, before facing Monroe at home on Tuesday in a big Region 1-AAA game.
"It was good to get back on track after those two losses,'' Dougherty coach Charlene Jackson said. "I told them to just come out and give the fans something to enjoy.''
Dougherty's starters played less than a half in the rout. Jasmine Lavant led the way with 10 points. Terrianna Martin had seven points and Kiandra Guilford scored seven points, all in the first half, for Dougherty, which led 38-12 after three quarters. Freshman Ra'keta Shelton came off the bench and had an impressive game, scoring four points and grabbing 10 rebounds.
The Squaws were led by Elisa Hollinger, who scored six points. It has been a hard-luck season for Albany High, where the Squaws have been decimated with injuries. Chastity Mullins and Kizzy Coleman, the team's two leading scorers and rebounders, have both been sidelined with knee injuries, and Erica Hollinger, who also started, suffered a knee injury earlier this week.
"This is definitely the worst year I've ever had with players being out,'' said Albany coach Telly Turner, who started five sophomores on Saturday. "I've never had three starters out. But my sophomores were undefeated as freshmen and they were having a good year on the JV team when we called them up. We're concentrating on the region, and we're doing well.''
Albany is 5-3 in the Region 1-AA race, and Turner is hoping her young kids grow up even more in the next two weeks before the region tournament. Starting five sophomores in the Civic Center will ignite some growing pains.
"It's hard enough to play here,'' Turner said. "I think they were a little shell-shocked at the beginning of the game.''
Dougherty substituted freely.
"I'm sorry Albany didn't have all its players,'' Jackson said. "I know how tough it is playing in front of a big crowd without all your players. I know they will be back.''
Now Dougherty faces Monroe.
"It's major. It's a major game,'' Jackson said. "We're all trying to get in the top four in the region, so it will be a big game.''
Dougherty's girls are now 5-4 in the region race, behind Westover (6-1) and Americus-Sumter (6-2) and Monroe (6-3), and needed some momentum going into Tuesday's game against Monroe, which has won five in a row and seven of the last eight.