Crisp County’s Jontavious Carter, left, shoots around the defense of Westover’s Greg Hall during Thursday’s Region 1-AAA tournament semifinal game at Westover. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
ALBANY — Too much Kayla Green and too much Nasheema Oliver.
It was that simple Thursday afternoon in the Region 1-AAA semifinal game between Crisp County and Monroe.
Green and Oliver combined for 37 points and 13 rebounds to lead the No. 3 seeded Lady Cougars past No. 2 Monroe, 49-46.
“When one of them steps up, we can usually come out on top,” Crisp coach Molly Speir said. “If I can get (either Kayla or Keidra Green) scoring — and Oliver is such a dominant player, if we can keep her in the game we are usually happy with the results.”
The Lady Cougars (16-10) have won five in a row and had to hold off a feisty Monroe team to advance to the region title game tonight at Westover against the host Lady Patriots, who dispatched of city rival Dougherty in Thursday’s late semifinal to advance back to the championship game.
Monroe jumped out to an early lead with Oliver in early foul trouble, but when the 6-foot-3 sophomore returned to the court in the second half, she simply took over. Kayla Green led the Lady Cougars with 20 points, but Oliver, who scored 17 and grabbed seven rebounds, took control of the game in the second half. In a four-minute span during the third and fourth quarters, she scored 11 points to give the Lady Cougars a six-point lead — their biggest of the day and one they wouldn’t give back.
With 27 seconds left, Monroe’s Kizzie Coleman hit a spinning fade away in the lane over Oliver to pull the Lady Tornadoes (17-8) to within one point at 47-46. Kayla Green then missed the back end of a 1-and-1 for Crisp, but Coleman followed by missing a layup with 15 seconds that would have tied the game. Crisp’s Qwenisha Waters hit 1-of-2 from the free throw line with 10 seconds left, giving Monroe one more shot to tie the game. However, Monroe Super 6er Sheniqua Young missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer, vaulting Crisp into the championship game and Monroe to the third-place game today against Dougherty, which will determine each team’s state tournament seeding heading into next week’s Class AAA tourney.
Chelsea Cox scored 19 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead Monroe.
Crisp boys knock off Westover — again
ALBANY --- Crisp County coach Terry Smith remembers knocking off top-seeded Westover in last year’s Region 1-AAA tournament.
He also remembers the aftermath.
Smith watched his Cougars beat the Patriots in the semifinals for the second straight year Thursday — this time, 73-67 — and he hopes his team responds better this time around.
“We got so emotional after beating Westover (last year), and that hurt us in the region championship game,” said Smith, whose Cougars lost last year’s region championship to Monroe and will play for their program’s first region title at 8:30 p.m. today against the winner of the second semifinal game between Dougherty and Monroe.
The No. 3 seed Cougars (17-9) held off a late Westover (18-9) comeback, and now they will try to hold onto their momentum.
“We will enjoy the win, but we aren’t finished,” Smith said. “We want to make history. There has never been a boys championship at Crisp County High School. Their motivation right now is to make history.”
Javoris Cooks, Jontavious Carter and D.J. Jackson paced the Cougars on Thursday with 23, 22 and 19 points, respectively. The trio had Crisp on top for most of the game, but Westover fought back to within two points with 6:15 left when Josh Black converted a 3-point play. Crisp pulled back ahead by double digits, but the Patriots had one more comeback left.
With 1:46 left, Black finished another and-one play to bring Westover to within 64-62. However, the Cougars ended the game on a 9-3 run to advance to the title game.
“We cut it down to two twice but just couldn’t get over the hump,” Westover coach Dallis Smith said. “We would do something and give up an easy shot or an easy layup. We gotta try to regroup now and come back (today).”
Westover, which was led by Brandon Hudson’s 22 points, will play the loser of the Monroe-Dougherty game at 5:30 p.m. today to determine its state seeding heading into next week’s AAA tourney.