Darton's Chanteniece Fann and the Lady Cavs made a statement Saturday when it beat up on Albany Tech, which Darton claimed was trash-talking them before their matchup.
ALBANY — Albany Tech’s Bianca Fennessee said she and her teammates were just there to watch Monday’s game between Darton and South Georgia Tech in Americus. The Darton players thought it was something more.
Either way, Darton looked like a team with a chip on its shoulder when it smashed rival Albany Tech in Saturday’s regular-season finale, 61-40.
The victory secured a runner-up finish for the Lady Cavs in Region XVII behind the Lady Jets and set up a possible rematch between the two teams in the opening round of the region tournament, which begins Tuesday.
The drama surrounding Saturday’s matchup started building during Monday’s game between the Lady Cavs and South Georgia Tech. Darton lost to the top team in the region, but that wasn’t the only thing that had the Lady Cavs upset.
“They were talking so much junk about us at South Georgia Tech behind our bench,” Darton’s Chanteniece Fann said. “They were saying a lot of stuff.”
Fann wasn’t the only one who heard it.
“They were saying, ‘We’re gonna get you all when we play you,’ ” Darton sophomore Christina Brown said. “They were saying we were gonna lose to (South Georgia Tech) — but they lost to them by like 30.”
Fennessee, the only Albany Tech player to be named to the All-Region XVII First Team, said it was all a misunderstanding.
“Yeah, we were sitting behind their bench, but it’s not like we were (cheering that Darton lost),” Fennessee said Saturday. “It didn’t matter to me who won. (Darton) was assuming that we were going for another team.”
Misunderstanding or not, Darton used it as motivation and poured it on in the opening minutes of Saturday’s game. The Lady Cavs jumped out to a 30-8 lead, took a 38-14 advantage into halftime and cruised to their 10th win in their last 11 games.
Brown led Darton with a season-high 23 points and was 9-for-13 from the field and 3-for-4 from 3-point range. She also swiped six steals and had three assists.
“I just knew it. I knew before the game that I was gonna be hitting,” Brown said.
That wasn’t all that Brown sensed before the game.
“I knew were going to come out strong,” she said. “It’s something about when we play and the energy we provide for each other and trying to get each other up.”
Darton’s offense was clicking on all cylinders in the first half, and its defense was shutting down Albany Tech scorers Fennessee and Shakima Wiggins, who combined for just two points in the first 20 minutes.
Fennessee sat out the final eight minutes of the first half in foul trouble but finished with a team-high 13 points. She helped the Lady Titans outscore Darton, 26-24, in the second half, but it wasn’t enough to dig Albany Tech out of its first-half hole.
“The refs cheated us. That’s going to be my defense,” Fennessee said. “People can beat me up, but when I am as aggressive as they are it’s a foul. I feel like we got cheated in the first half. They started trying in the second half, but it was too late.”
Lashay Lettingham scored 11 points and was the only other Lady Titan to get into double figures, while Michelle Mitchell and Fann each finished with double-doubles for Darton. Mitchell had 15 points and 10 rebounds, and Fann finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds. Darton point guard Lauren Johnson added nine points and six assists.
“Our three keys coming in were our defense, knocking down shots right out of the gate and our energy,” said Darton coach Lea Henry, whose Lady Cavs are now 2-0 against Albany Tech this season. “I thought we did all three of those things.”
Depending on the outcome of today’s game between Central Georgia Tech and Chattahoochee Tech, the Lady Titans will either be the No. 6 or No. 7 seed in the region tournament, which begins Tuesday. Darton secured the No. 2 seed after winning a coin flip late Saturday evening that broke a tie between the Lady Cavs and Georgia Perimeter, which means there will be a rematch between the two Albany rivals if Central Georgia Tech wins today’s game and bumps Albany Tech back to the No. 7 seed.