Deerfield girls basketball coach Ty Kinslow's Lady Knights romped past Tattnall on Wednesday night in the opener of the GISA Class AAA State Tournament.
TIFTON — What can a team take out of a 60-14 romp in its state tournament opener?
“Well ....” Westwood girls coach Jenni Smith began, “we got to play everyone on the team by the end of the first quarter, I think. So that was a positive.”
Other than that, the Region 3, No. 2-seeded Lady Wildcats’ opener was a laugher as Westwood raced out to a double-digit lead Wednesday in the first round of the Class A State Tournament and never looked back against Heritage Christian, which only brought a roster of eight players to state.
“Their kids were really nice and I felt bad, but what can you do? This is the state tournament, and I have to get my kids (who will be playing in the next rounds) some playing time,” said Smith, whose team will now face Oak Mountain in the next round Friday at ABAC at 5:30 p.m. “But by the end of the first quarter, I think everyone on our team had seen the floor, and that’s nice to get those kids who don’t normally get a chance to play that much some playing time in an atmosphere like the state tournament.”
Smith was also happy to just be playing. Last year, the Lady Wildcats — who went on to finish as state runner-up to Crisp Academy — had a bye, so her girls weren’t able to play a first-round game in an unfamiliar gym.
“We were glad to be playing,” she said. “It gives my girls a chance to get out there and get some confidence on a goal they don’t normally play on.”
Ivy Foister was the only Westwood player in double figures with 10 points, followed by nine each from Miller Singleton. Haley Marshall added eight, and Virginia Vereen scored seven in the win.
MACON — Ty Kinslow was the first to admit he had some anxiety about Wednesday’s GISA Class AAA State Tournament opener against Tattnall Square.
After all, the Region 3, No. 1-seeded Lady Knights had only lost four games all season — and one of those was to the Lady Trojans.
“We were a little nervous, especially missing our two post players Gaby (Burt) and Heather (Lash),” Kinslow said. “But you’re always a little nervous this time of year. It’s win or go home.”
Rest easy, coach — your Lady Knights won’t be going home.
Deerfield rolled to a 41-29 victory Wednesday night in its state opener at Stratford Academy and will advance on to the quarterfinals Friday at 8:30 p.m. against Westminster.
Courtney Kelson led the way with 16 points, followed by 12 from Sabrina Curry. Miranda Phillips, meanwhile, filled a huge void for DWS’ missing post players, coming up with a team-high eight rebounds.
Burt has a torn ACL and is done for the year, while Lash suffered a concussion during Deerfield’s region title win last weekend against Westfield. Kinslow said he doesn’t think Lash will return this week, but could by next week if the Lady Knights take care of business Friday against Westminster, the No. 2 seed out of Region 4.
“This time of year, all you want to do is win and move on. I think (Wednesday) we played a great ball game and I’m looking forward to the next round,” the coach said.
Kinslow said he was asked a question after the game by a reporter from Macon regarding his team’s seemingly inability to “put Tattnall away?”
Kinslow said he just laughed at the question.
“I told him, ‘We were up by 10 at halftime and basically maintained that lead the entire game thanks to — what I thought was — great defense on our part,’ ” Kinslow said. “We’ve now allowed 25 and 29 points in our last two games, so I’d consider that playing pretty well. I think we put them away early with our defense and never relented. I was proud of that.”
TIFTON — Wednesday’s 60-13 victory made it two straight years that Crisp Academy has demolished Twiggs in the opening round of the GISA Class A State Tournament.
A repeat of last year’s tournament run would be just fine for the defending state champion Lady Wildcats, who began to clear the bench midway through Wednesday’s first quarter.
“Everybody got a lot of playing time, and that’s what we were wanting going into the next game and hopefully the Final Four game,” Crisp coach Gina Mitchell said. “That was our plan, to get a lot of playing time for everybody.”
Sophomore Madi Mitchell, who scored 29 points and grabbed nine rebounds for Crisp in the region championship game against Westwood, led the Lady Wildcats all season, but they needed just nine points and 15 rebounds from her against fourth-seeded Twiggs.
Kendall Wilson led the top-seeded Lady Wildcats (25-3) with 20 points, while Kayla Childers scored 11 points and Kristen Greene added seven points.
Crisp led, 23-5, at the end of the first quarter and took a 35-11 lead into halftime. The Lady Wildcats outscored Twiggs, 25-2, in the second half by holding Twiggs scoreless in the third quarter.
“We shot the ball well from outside, so it didn’t matter if they triple-teamed us inside,” Gina Mitchell said. “We could still shoot form outside.”
The Lady Wildcats, winners of 22 games in a row, will next play No. 3 seed Nathanael Greene Academy at 8:30 p.m. on Friday at ABAC with a trip to the Final Four on the line.