Dougherty’s Ra’Keta Shelton, left, and Amber Ward celebrate with teammates after Friday’s big region win for the Lady Trojans against city rival Westover, 54-49. (email@example.com)
ALBANY — When Ra’Keta Shelton said Dougherty High had been working year-round to beat Westover, she meant it – and then some.
Shelton was a freshman the last time the Lady Trojans downed Westover in the 2011 region title game. That one was sweet, but Friday’s 54-49 win over the Lady Patriots was just as sweet because of the lull between victories against Dougherty’s cross-town rivals.
“All year long we’ve been working to beat them,” Shelton said after posting a mammoth double-double with 19 points, 17 boards and three steals.
It took a dominant fourth-quarter rally to do it after the two teams played to a 24-24 tie at halftime. Dougherty led momentarily in the third, 31-28, with 5:02 left, before Westover went on an 11-0 run in the next three minutes to take a 39-31 lead after Mykesa Smith buried a jump shot at the 2:06 mark of the third. The Lady Pats led 41-35 entering the fourth before Shelton and senior Quannesha Gatling took over late to power the Lady Trojans, who outscored Westover 14-8 in the fourth.
“They play extremely hard,” Dougherty head coach Charlene Jackson said of her team. “I told them in the locker room how much I appreciated them responding.”
After Westover’s Smith, who finished with a game-high 20 points, hit her fourth three of the game with 5:59 left, Dougherty went on an 8-0 run led by Shelton’s seven fourth-quarter points. She gave the Lady Trojans a 49-47 lead with a steal and full-court drive, laying in the basket and drawing the foul for a three-point play with 2:46 left.
Smith answered on the other end with a driving jumper and foul, but missed converting the three-point play and tied the game at 49-49.
Gatling gave Dougherty (7-5, 4-2 Region 1-AAAA) the lead for good with another jump shot in the lane and Shelton went 2-for-3 from the line in the final minute and had a steal to seal it in the final 30 seconds.
“We had to get everybody’s heads up and play four quarters,” Shelton said. “They were down in the third quarter, but I told them the game wasn’t over. It all came together and we got the victory.”
Shelton, a double-double machine, has been a force through the first-half of the region rotation, which the Lady Trojans will complete today against Albany High at 4 p.m. in the Civic Center.
“She relished the opportunity to rebound,” Jackson said of Shelton Friday. “That’s something she really likes doing. She’s a factor in almost everything.”
Gatling added 14 points and two steals in the win. Guard Takiya Jackson also scored 14.
Westover (8-5, 3-3 Region 1-AAAA) faces region-leader Monroe today at the Civic Center.
Westover boys 66, Dougherty boys 40: With today’s Round 3 showdown with Monroe looming, the Patriots stayed focused and dominated Dougherty early to improve to 6-1 through the first-half of the region slate.
Westover (12-3, 6-1 Region 1-AAAA) led 40-14 at the break and got a game-high 15 points from T.J. Cromer and 14 points from Kel Miller. Dougherty was led by Michael Miller’s nine points and Shun Wheller’s eight.
Dougherty (4-6, 3-3 Region 1-AAAA) faces Albany High today at the Civic Center while Westover needs a win after falling to Monroe in the first two meetings.
“I’m glad we were able to rest some kids for (today),” Patriots’ head coach Dallis Smith said of Friday’s second half. “We’ve just got to come out with more energy. The last time we played Monroe it was back-to-back tough (games). I think we’re better. This is the time of the year where everybody is starting to come together.”
Westover’s tough task today is followed by another brutal matchup Tuesday against Class AAAAAA No. 1 Tift County, which beat the Pats handily in Tifton early in the year.
“Hopefully we’ll play a little better,” Smith said. “Hopefully we’ll attack them a little differently.”