Darton, Albany Tech women renew rivalry tonight at ASU

Darton leading scorer Michelle Mitchell (21) helped the Lady Cavs rip off eight straight wins before losing over the weekend.

Darton leading scorer Michelle Mitchell (21) helped the Lady Cavs rip off eight straight wins before losing over the weekend.

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WHO: Darton women at Albany Tech.

WHAT: First meeting of the season of region rivals.

WHEN: 5:30 p.m.

WHERE: Albany State.

ALBANY — Darton sophomore Michelle Mitchell was held to a season-low four points in Saturday’s loss to Georgia Perimeter, snapping a streak of eight wins in a row and 10 straight games the reigning Region XVII Player of the Year has scored in double figures.

Albany Tech coach Kenneth Williams isn’t expecting a repeat performance tonight when the two local rivals square off for the first this year.

“I would love to see her score four points (tonight), but I don’t expect her to have two bad games in a row,” Williams said. “She is definitely going to be one of our focal points on defense.”

Mitchell and the No. 23 Lady Cavs play Albany Tech at 5:30 p.m. today at Albany State. Both teams are coming off Region XVII losses.

Darton (10-2, 6-1), which is ranked No. 24 in the latest NJCAA Top 25 poll, fell into second place in the region behind undefeated Georgia Highlands with Saturday’s 61-54 loss to Georgia Perimeter, while Albany Tech (8-5, 2-3) has lost two of its last three games and is in sixth place in the 11-team region.

Both teams, however, have the star power to shake off the losses in a hurry. Mitchell (17.4 points per game) and Albany Tech’s Lashay Lettingham (16.9 points per game) are second and third in the region in scoring and both are in the Top 30 in the nation.

Mitchell was 2-for-10 from the field and 0-for-2 from the free throw line Saturday, but the sophomore from Eastman isn’t likely to stay in any slump too long.

“She got into a little bit of foul trouble in that loss (to Georgia Perimeter), and the fact we weren’t playing well as a team just compounded Michelle’s struggles,” Darton second-year coach Lea Henry said. “I think we learned from it, and hopefully we’ll play better (today).”

Williams expects nothing less.

“Darton gets up the floor in a hurry, and if you don’t stop Mitchell early then you can just about count two points right there,” Williams said. “We will have to work hard to contain her.”

Lettingham, a sophomore from Palm Beach Garden, Fla., struggled in her last game as well, scoring just nine points Saturday against Middle Georgia College while battling a nagging back injury. In her previous four games, Lettingham average 25.3 points.

“Hopefully we can get her healthy, because we definitely need her,” Williams said. “She has had some big games for us as of late.”

Henry said he knows Williams will have his kids ready.

“We’ve only seen them play once, but I know this about them: Coach Williams does a great job with his kids, and (Lashay) is putting up some numbers,” she said. “This is always a fun, competitive game.”

The Lady Cavs swept Albany Tech last season in a pair of games during which Mitchell averaged 20 points and 10.5 rebounds, and win No. 3 in a row against the Lady Titans would give Darton its first road victory in nearly a month.

Of course, Albany Tech needs a win just as bad.

“We are 2-3 in the region, and we play in a tough region so you don’t want to fall too far behind,” Williams said. “It’s tough to climb out of the bottom of the region. This is really a game we need to win.”