ALBANY — The last time Westover’s girls played Tift County, the Tift coach was ill and her team was short-handed.
Everybody showed up Tuesday in the Westover gym, and Tift, which lost to Westover back on December 1, had just enough to hold off the Lady Patriots, who stormed back from a 16-point deficit before losing, 67-62.
“When we played them early in the year their coach was ill, and they didn’t have all their top players (center 6-foot center Stacyanne Murrell),” said Westover coach Lewis Smith, who admitted that Tift was a lot better this time around.
Smith knew it would be a task for his young team to beat Class AAAAAA Tift County (13-3), which is as hot as any girls team in the state. That’s 10 in a row for Tift, which hasn’t lost in more than a month.
Murrell scored eight points and had eight rebounds and was a force inside for Tift, but the difference on Tuesday was Dede Deshaeer, who led the Lady Devils from start to finish. She hit a 3-pointer to start the game, and Tift never trailed. DeShaeer finished with five treys and 24 points. She had 12 points (on four 3s) at halftime, and Tift led 26-19 at the break. Tift took over in the second half, thanks to a big second half from Alexis Johnson, who finished with 18 points, and built the lead to 16 points -- 51-35 -- early in the fourth quarter.
But Westover forced 12 turnovers over the final six minutes of the game and stormed back to close to 60-56 with 1:47 left on a put-back by Shanteria Williams. But Deshaeer answered with her fifth trey of the night to lift Tift to a 63-56 lead and Westover killed its chances by missing five free throws (0-for-5) in the final two minutes of the game.
“We just missed our free throws,’’ Smith said.
Westover (11-7) was led by Williams, who finished with 14 points and nine rebounds. Mykesa Smith led the Lady Patriots in scoring with 18 points and Au’Breanna Moore, who scored 10 points and grabbed 12 rebounds.
Westover (4-4 in Region 1-AAAA) will be at home in a region game against Cairo on Friday.
PELHAM GIRLS 61, EARLY COUNTY 56: The Herald No. 3 Pelham Lady Hornets (13-3, 4-1) held off a late charge by the Early County Lady Bobcats on Tuesday, 61-56, behind a season-high 32 points from Herald Super 6er Briunna Freeman. Hillary Williams and Timbreanna Hudson each added 10 points for Pelham, which improved to 12-3 overall and 4-1 in region play.
Justice Lee led Early (9-5, 3-2), followed by Tynicia McCoy (15 points).
Pelham next plays at Brooks County on Friday, while Early County will host Fitzgerald.
SCA GIRLS 50, VALWOOD 18: Madison Walker led the Lady Eagles (7-8, 2-1) with 18 points and five rebounds, while Diamond Clark added 11 points and Keyatta Thomas chipped in three.
Sherwood now gets set to play at Mount de Sales on Friday, followed by a rematch at home against city rival Deerfield on Saturday.
SEMINOLE COUNTY 75, TERRELL COUNTY 46: Despite a big night from the Lady Greenwaves’ Nydrah Wright (20 points), the Lady Indians cruised. Katrese Brown scored a game-high 25 points, Candice Barber added 14 and Alexus Watson chipped in 12 as the Lady Indians improved to 9-5 overall and 6-2 in region.
Seminole now readies for the Backyard Brawl/Family Feud in Colquitt on Friday against rival Miller County, while Terrell plays at Randolph-Clay on Friday.
RANDOLPH-CLAY GIRLS 80, BAKER COUNTY 30: Cierra Hawkins scored 27 points and pulled down 10 rebounds, but it wasn’t enough to overcome The Herald’s No. 1 -ranked girls team, which got big nights from Wanekia Washington (29 points) and Kobi Thornton (18).
Baker fell to 3-11, while Randolph — which has won six in a row — is now 15-2.
Randolph next play at Calhoun County on Friday, while Baker plays at Mitchell.
WESTWOOD BOYS 60, LIFE CHRISTIAN 50: Jamie Davis led all scorers with 24 points, followed by Dylan Larkin (10), Brody Collins (10) and Mitch Good (11), while the Warriors got 20 points from Tray Buchannan, 15 from Darien Holmes and 11 from Dontravious Sims 11.
Westwood improved to 4-5 and will next host SGA on Friday.
TATTNALL GIRLS 42, DWS 16: Nyla Perry led with nine as DWS lost and fell to 5-10. DWS next plays Calvary Christian on Friday.
SEMINOLE COUNTY BOYS 63, TERRELL COUNTY 43: The Indians broke open a close game with a 22-point fourth quarter to pull away from Terrell County on Tuesday. Jamal Martin and Jahmyka Pearson each scored 17 to lead Seminole (12-3), while Jordan Harris added 10 points.
Raython Stephens scored 11 to lead Terrell County. The Indians play again Friday in Colquitt against rival Miller County.
DWS boys 55, Tattnall 46: Herald Super 6er Ramello Carter led with 17 points, Jason Battle and Westin King both added 10 and the Knights won their fifth in a row.
DWS (10-3) returns to action Friday with a big region game against Calvary Christian.
TAE 54, SGA 23: The Lady Eagles were led by Lauren Barfield (14 points) and Marilauren Farr (13), while SGA got a team-high nine from Jessica Oliver.
Terrell improved to 11-6 overall and 1-1 in region play with the win.
SGA next plays Westwood on Friday in Camilla, while Terrell plays at Fullington on Thursday.
SGA BOYS 47, TAE 39: The Warriors (12-6, 2-1) continued their strong start to the season as McKinley Chambless scored 23 points, Alex Chambless added 13 and Coner Walsh led Terrell with 15. The Eagles fell to 6-8 overall and 1-1 in region. The Warriors play at Westwood on Friday, while Terrell plays at Fullington on Thursday.
Open Bible 49, Byne girls 32: Heather Horne scored 24 points in Tuesday’s loss, but she hit a milestone in the process, recording her 1,000th career point — and she’s only a junior.
Horne also added 11 rebounds, while Jenny Harrison had five points and 13 rebounds in the defeat.
Byne is now 2-2 in region play and will next face Grace Baptist on the road Friday.
BYNE BOYS 61, OPEN BIBLE 54: Kurt Ellis’ 27 points and Quentin Sanders added 17 in Tuesday’s win.
Byne next faces Grace Baptist on the road Friday.
SCA boys 63, Valwood 44: Fresh off his 48-point game, Patrick Stanford dropped 31 in a victory Tuesday. He’s now averaging 23 points a game.
Sherwood improved to 10-5 overall and 2-1 in region and will next play Mount de Sales on Friday.
RS girls 60, Grace 57: Parker Rigsby scored a team-high 21 points, Dana McCarter added 14 and Gabi Jackson scored 10, while Grace’s Emily Murr dropped a game-high of 33 points and Jasmine Kelly added 13.
Randolph is now 5-9 overall and 2-1 in region.
Grace 67, Randolph Southern 59: The Patriots remain the only winless team, boys or girls, in Southwest Georgia as they fell once again Tuesday.
Rhett Ragan led Randolph with 25 points and Jared Sauls added 11, while Jack McCrae led all scorers with 26 points from Grace and Phillip Bowen chipped in 21.
Both Randolph teams next play Friday at Highland Christian.