Christina Brown drives to the basket for Darton on Georgia Perimeter on Saturday. (David Mann/Darton College)
ALBANY — Darton had nine days to think about its 57-45 loss to Georgia Perimeter on Jan. 12.
It was a loss that stung — one that Lady Cavs sophomore Christina Brown called “the worst game” her team had ever played.
For the past nine days, all the Lady Cavs wanted was another shot at their Region XVII opponent, and Saturday they got it.
They made the most of it by beating Georgia Perimeter at home, 68-64, to improve to 11-6 overall and 6-3 in Region XVII. It was just the second loss in region play for the Lady Jaguars (12-7, 7-2), who dropped two games behind region-leading South Georgia Tech.
Darton freshman Michelle Mitchell, who leads the Lady Cavs in scoring this season, remembers exactly what she was thinking following that 12-point loss over a week ago.
“I was like, ‘When we are at home, we are going to go play better defense. We are going to come out like we are supposed to play. Like a Darton Cavalier,’ ” said Mitchell, who scored 18 points and swiped a game-high six steals.
The Lady Cavs came out of the gates fast, hitting 13 of their first 17 field goals and taking a 26-6 lead 10 minutes into the game. Brown scored eight of her team-high 20 points in the first 10 minutes, knocking down a pair of 3-pointers and a layup.
“(The start of the game) was amazing,” said Brown, who opened up the game with a 3-pointer. “Once I hit that first 3, and once I was in the game and making the shots, I just knew we were going to win.”
The Lady Cavs were hitting everything during those first 10 minutes — 3-pointers, layups, drives, jumpers. Darton’s entire starting five — Brown, Mitchell, former Dougherty star LaKandra Beeks, Chan Fann and Lauren Johnson — were easily breaking Georgia Perimeter’s full-court press and then converting on their end of the court.
“That’s the best 10 minutes we have played against a good team,” Darton coach Lea Henry said. “I thought it was just our focus level. We had a great week of practice. The (Darton men’s club team) came in and helped us out, and I felt like our team really prepared well this week.”
Darton never trailed in the game, but its lead started to slip as the first half came to an end. The Lady Cavs took an eight-point advantage into halftime, but then Georgia Perimeter came out in the second half and continued to chip away.
The Lady Jaguars eventually tied the game at 50-50 with six minutes left, which prompted Henry to call a timeout and challenge her team.
“Be tough for 40 minutes,” said Henry when asked what her message to her players was. “We got a little tired and we started taking breaks. I think the key thing we need to understand is that if we are going to beat a team of Georgia Perimeter’s caliber, we can’t take any breaks. We’ve got be physical and mentally tough for 40 minutes.”
The Lady Cavs regained that toughness in the final four minutes, outscoring Georgia Perimeter, 12-8, during that stretch to improve to 7-1 at home.
Beeks, who fouled out late in the second half, added 13 points and nine rebounds for the Lady Cavs, while Johnson had 11 points, nine rebounds and six assists. Fann, who also fouled out in the second half, finished with four points and four rebounds.
Darton’s next game is Tuesday at East Georgia and isn’t at home again until Jan. 31 against Middle Georgia.
ALBANY TECH MEN, WOMEN ROLL; ANDREW WOMEN FALL:
ALBANY — The Albany Tech men’s and women’s basketball teams both picked up much-needed wins Saturday against Atlanta Metro as the Titans rolled, 61-48, while the Lady Titans dominated, 70-48.
“We needed that one,” ATC women’s coach Kenneth Williams said. “The girls showed up (Saturday).”
The women were led by Bianca Fennessee’s double-double (23 points, 22 boards), while Shakima Wiggins added a team-high 24 points in the win, which pushed ATC’s record to 12-7 overall and 4-4 in Region XVII.
The men were led by former Worth County star Jamorris Gaines’ 27 points as 21 of those came on seven 3-pointers. Antonio Allen added 11 as the Titans improved to 11-9 and 5-3 in conference play.
The men next hit the road to face Waycross on Monday, while the women travel to Andrew.
CHATTAHOOCHEE TECH WOMEN 69, ANDREW COLLEGE 64: The Lady Tigers got 24 points and 11 rebounds from Angel Penn and 11 points from Blair Sabelli, but it wasn’t enough as Andrew fell to 10-9 overall and remained winless in region play.
GSW MEN DROP KEY PBC GAME:
AUGUSTA -- It was a week of "leapfrogging" last week for the Georgia Southwestern Hurricanes. Their wins over Armstrong Atlantic and Flagler in three days propelled GSW from last place in the PBC Western Division to third. That momentum wouldn't carry over with the Hurricanes during their trip to Augusta State University (10-7, 6-3 PBC). Georgia Southwestern would lose 57-52 on Saturday evening to the host Jaguars.
Short-handed via fouls and injuries, the Hurricanes gave a hero's effort to erase a one-time 16-point lead and then lead by as many as four points in the second half. Nothing embodied the moxy and resolve of the Canes more than senior guard Evan Mobley. The Savannah native took the team on his back and scored a career-high 32 points on six of ten shooting from beyond the arc and a perfect six of six from the free throw line. 21 of his 32 points would come in the second half as Mobley brought the Hurricanes back from the brink of death.
The Hurricanes' downfall came via their 24 total team fouls, 19 turnovers and an early 16-point deficit that took much of their effort to try and erase. The Blue & Gold couldn't slow down Augusta State forward Harold Dolby who tallied 22 points, eight rebounds and three assists. Furthermore, the Augusta State defense recorded eight blocks and six steals.
Georgia Southwestern struggled to cope with Augusta State's zone defense in the early, which was fueled with early turnovers. Georgia Southwestern turned it over on the in-bound play coming out of the game's first media timeout, which was turned into a made three-pointer by Augusta State giving them the 11-4 after six and a half minutes of play.
That run was punctuated further by the Jaguars who pushed their lead to 16 over the next five minutes. Hurricanes struggled mightily scoring only eight points in the game's first ten minutes. Their early turnovers were converted for dunks by the Jaguars, which got the home team crowd involved to further GSW's struggles.
Georgia Southwestern would weather the Jaguar haymaker by clamping down defensively. By halftime the one-time 16-point ASU lead would be cut in half by a score of 31-23. It was the lowest scoring first half of the season for the Hurricanes. Their offensive woes were highlight by the fact they did not score on back-to-back possessions during the entire first half. In addition to that, GSW shot 7-23 (30%) from the field, turned it over twelve times and allowed ASU to shoot 50% from the field.
Georgia Southwestern was led by Evan Mobley with eleven points in the first half. Milos Kleut tallied five points and four rebounds in his 13 first-half minutes. Augusta State had the first half's leading scorer in Harold Dolby with 13 points. He was supported by O'Neal Armstrong's eight first half points.
By the first media timeout of the second half, Augusta State's eight-point halftime lead was down to six points courtesy of good defense and opportunistic transition offense. The early second-half offense was spearheaded by Evan Mobley. A six-point lead turned to three points as Mobley and company continued to show grit on both ends. Mobley would bury three-pointers to give GSW the lead 44-43.
The one-point lead would grow to four points via a Evan Mobley three-point play with 5:28 remaining. The lead would not hold up as the Blue & gold would go the final 4:11 without a field goal as GSW would eventually drop the 57-52 decision.
It won't get any easier as the Hurricanes will face the USC Aiken Pacers in South Carolina on Monday night at 7:30 p.m. GSW will look to improve their 11-4 (2-4 PBC) record.