MACON — The Dougherty girls basketball team, which won the Region 1-AAA title last season — then lost as a No. 1 seed in the first round to a No. 4 seed — flipped the script Friday night when the No. 4 Lady Trojans went North and knocked off top dog Mary Persons, 51-49, in the first round of the GHSA Class AAA State Tournament.
“We didn’t feel like an underdog and this was not an upset,” Dougherty coach Charlene Jackson said matter-of-factly. “We felt confident coming into the this game and we got the job done.”
The win for Dougherty makes it a clean sweep for Region 1-AAA in the first round Friday as Monroe, Crisp and Westover all won, too.
Dougherty was led by Shawntal Byrd with 15, while Ra’Keta Shelton and Jayla Hooper each with nine.
Dougherty will now travel to play the winner between Drew and Hephzibah on Tuesday on the road.
BAINBRIDGE GIRLS 62, RICHMOND HILL 53: Not too many people saw Friday night’s 62-53 upset of No. 1 seed Richmond Hill coming.
Bainbridge coach Kelvin Cochran sure did.
“Going into the game, we knew we had a chance,” Cochran said after his No. 4 seed Lady Bearcats knocked off top dog Richmond Hill in the GHSA Class AAAA state tournament opener. “We just knew we had to leave it all on the court, and we did and came away with the victory.”
The Class AAAA No. 7 Lady Wildcats, who had just beaten state-ranked No. 3 Statesboro in the Region 2-AAAA title game, had lost just two games entering the game, but Bainbridge’s shooting touch made sure they picked up their third.
Briana Wade led Bainbridge with 21 points, while Alex Carter scored 16 and Ri’Chana Jackson added 13. The Lady Bearcats, who hit nine 3-pointers in the game, scored 27 points in the third quarter to take a 41-36 lead into the fourth. They added 21 more points in the fourth to advance to Tuesday’s game against Forest Park.
RANDOLPH-CLAY WINS BY FORFEIT: Randolph-Clay boys basketball coach Oglesby Jackson called it a “blessing,” but added he’ll be praying for every young man on the Wilcox County basketball team.
This after the Patriots’ head coach, George Kennedy, called Jackson and Red Devils administrators Friday morning and informed them his team — ranked No. 6 in the Class A state poll — would be forfeiting its first-round state playoff game because of an off-campus issue that forced the school to suspend nine players, leaving the Pats with just three.
While Wilcox officials initially refused to say what happened, the Cordele Dispatch later reported that the players had been involved in “gang activity” that led to a fight among rival gangs.
“Gang activity will not be tolerated at Wilcox County High School. Period,” Wilcox County principal Chad Davis told The Dispatch. “From this point on, anyone caught in any gang activity will no longer go to school here. It does not matter who you are.”
The AJC reported that it is the first pregame forfeit in a state tournament since 1941, according to the Georgia Basketball Project.
The forfeit means Jackson’s team now advances on to the Sweet 16 — where R-C lost last year — against Taylor County on Wednesday. And while Jackson said he hated to move on this way, the Red Devils will play on proudly.
“We feel like it’s a blessing — like (legendary Randolph-Clay coach Joe Williams, who died late last year) was looking down on us from above,” Jackson said. “But at the same time, we will pray for those young men (from Wilcox). We hope nothing happened that will affect them the rest of their lives.
“We just gathered our players and told them that this is a lesson to always do the right thing off the court, no matter what.”
Jackson said the extra time will help the Red Devils prepare for a tough next opponent.
“We’ll practice (today) and Sunday — but only after we go to church,” he said. “We need to give thanks and pray for those young men.”
MITCHELL GIRLS 63, ECHOLS 37: Mitchell County’s Lady Eagles took the momentum of last Saturday night’s Region 1-A championship win against rival Pelham and just kept flying on Friday night, destroying Echols County, 63-37, in the opening round of the Class A state playoffs.
“I wanted to see if beating Pelham was enough for them,’’ said Mitchell County coach Rosemary Sanders, whose team had lost to Pelham by 18 and 24 points before knocking off the state-ranked Lady Hornets to win the Region 1-A title at Pelham last Saturday. “They showed me beating Pelham was not enough.’’
Sophomore Shonbreka Holton, who scored eight points, had an inspiring game inside, grabbing 21 rebounds to dominate the boards while shutting down Echols’ 6-foot-2 center Lindsey Levings. Holton is 5-9.
“(Holton) came to play,’’ Sanders said. “She went up against their 6-2 girl and shut her down all night. (Levings) didn’t score a point all night. We were worried about them going inside to her to do some damage because they had a big height advantage. We wanted to make sure we stopped her. It was just great defense.’’
Sophomore A’Miracle Jones led the Lady Eagles with 14 points and 17 rebounds. De’Ericka Lyons scored 10 points and Johnesha Florence added nine points.
Mitchell County (16-12) will be at home to face Claxton at 6 p.m. on Tuesday in the second round of the playoffs in the Sweet 16.
“It’s a great feeling to get past the first round,’’ Sanders said. “If we continue to play strong and have defensive stops, we can go further.’’
PELHAM GIRLS 53, TURNER COUNTY 42: A new year brought about a new result for the Lady Hornets, who officially got the monkey off their backs Friday night in the first round of the Class A State Tournament after entering as a No. 1 seed and losing a season ago.
This time, Pelham was a No. 2 seed after losing in a stunner to neighboring rival Mitchell County last Saturday in the region title game after Pelham had dominated the rival Lady Eagles by double digits in the first two regular-season meetings.
So, second-year Pelham girls coach, Antonia Tookes ... does it feel good?
“Yes!” she yelled out in joy. “Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!”
The win was huge for the Lady Hornets, who didn’t want to see their state title aspirations go up in smoke two straight seasons in the first round.
Although, by halftime, Tookes was admittedly nervous when the Lady Hornets went to the locker room up just 25-24 in front of a packed Pelham High School gym.
“We had a good crowd supporting us, but it was a close game — a lot closer than we would’ve liked,” she said. “But we made some adjustments and came back out and played really good defense. That’s what got us this win — our defense.”
Pelham came out pressing, trapping and getting buckets in transition in the second half, and before the Lady Hornets knew it, they’d taken a double-digit lead — and never looked back.
Pelham freshman Briunna Freeman led the way with 24 points, while Octavia Kierce and Herald Super 6er Shay Reese added eight points each.
The win now vaults Pelham (25-4) into the Sweet 16, and the news gets even better: They’ll host Tuesday after top seed Calvary Day lost to Greenville.
“Now we get to stay home and don’t have to go all the way to Savannah,” Tookes said. “Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.”
WILCOX COUNTY GIRLS 64, RANDOLPH-CLAY 50: The Lady Red Devils’ season ended at 18-8 overall as sisters Kanekia Washington and Whenekia Washington both scored 16 points, while Adrianna Blackmon added 13. All three R-C stars are returning as the Lady Red Devils only lose one starter, Charmanta Taylor.
STATESBORO GIRLS 72, LEE COUNTY 62: The Lee County girls saw their season come to an end Friday night in a 72-62 loss to No. 3 state-ranked Statesboro (27-2).
“We hung with them all night but we just got killed on the boards,” said fifth-year Lee County coach Fran McPherson, whose team ends the season 15-10 overall and loses two seniors from this year’s team: Herald Super 6er DaQuenna Moore and Natalie Shiver.
Moore led all scorers with 29 points and 13 rebounds, but no other Lady Trojan reached double figures.
CRISP BOYS COME BACK FOR WIN: The Crisp County boys basketball team, which won its first Region 1-AAA title in school history last week, came from behind to beat Veterans, 78-75, in Friday’s Class AAA State Tournament opener.
The No. 1 seed Cougars were led by Jontavious Carter and Javoris Cooks, who scored 26 and 24 points, respectively. Senior D.J. Jackson also added 10 points.
No. 4 seed Veterans led by 11 points at halftime and took an eight-point lead into the fourth quarter, but Crisp coach Terry Smith said his team never gave up.
“We were down, but nobody complained,” he said. “They just stayed the course.”
The Cougars, who improved to 19-9 with their seventh straight win, will play the winner of tonight’s game between Westside, Augusta and Eastside.
CRISP COUNTY GIRLS 51, HOWARD 42: The No. 1 seed Lady Cougars took care of business Friday night, thanks to 15 points each from Kiedra Green and Nasheema Oliver, while Kayla Green added 12.
Crisp will host in the second round Tuesday against the winner of Friday’s other opening-round game between Henry County and Westside, Augusta.
ALBANY GIRLS 50, JEFF DAVIS 49: The Region 1-AA No. 3 seed Albany High Squaws opened up the Class AA State Tournament with a 50-49 upset of Region 2-AA No. 2 Jeff Davis on Friday.
The victory sets up a second-round game Tuesday between Albany and No. 1 seed Morgan County (27-1), the seventh-ranked team in the state poll.
Multiple attempts to reach AHS head coach Telly Turner were unsuccessful. No final stats were available at The Herald’s press time.
CHARLTON COUNTY GIRLS 44, SEMINOLE COUNTY 32: The Seminole County Lady Indians saw their season end Friday in a tough 44-32 loss on the road to top-seeded Charlton County in the opening round of the Class A state playoffs.
“We were down 26-23 after three quarters and then just couldn’t get a shot to fall in the fourth quarter,’’ Seminole County coach Jesse McLeod said. “Seems like we’ve had one bad quarter all year, and we picked the fourth quarter in this game. They played hard, and we had shots. We just couldn’t get the ball to fall.’’
Seminole (13-11) was led by Marissa Mike (9 points), Patrice Barnes (8 points) and Katrese Brown (8 points).