Dougherty’s Quannesha Gatling dribbles past Monroe’s Cedriania Waters during Friday’s game, which the Lady Trojans won, 51-50, to leap past the Lady Tornadoes in the Fab 5 Poll.
Fab 5 Poll
1.) Monroe 19-2
2.) Westover 15-5
3.) Mitchell County 18-3
4.) Seminole County 15-3
5.) Bainbridge 14-4
1.) Randolph-Clay 19-2
2.) Dougherty 15-5
3.) Monroe 16-6
4.) Pelham 17-3
5.) Mitchell County 13-8
ALBANY — Some things remained the same — like the Monroe Tornadoes’ vice-grip fist wrapped around the No. 1 spot in the Fab 5 Poll.
And others changed dramatically last week when Dougherty beat the Monroe girls and the Calhoun County girls, who had just made their debut in the poll, were knocked out with a loss to Seminole County.
Dougherty’s girls have been making a statement since the new year. The Lady Trojans haven’t lost a game in 2013 and look better and better every night, and they had a signature win Friday at Darton, where they hung on to beat Monroe, 51-50, after Key Key Price’s basket at the buzzer was wiped out because of a charging call.
Somehow, Dougherty hung on with its star player, Ra’Keta Shelton, and its best outside shooter, Amber Ward, who made three big treys in the fourth quarter, both on the bench with five fouls in the closing minutes of the game.
Quannesha Gatling played an inspired game and finished with 23 points, and this is why Dougherty is so dangerous. The Lady Trojans have so many weapons, including Shelton, who has emerged as one of the best players in Southwest Georgia. She had 18 rebounds and nine points before fouling out with 4:23 left.
These kids started the season at 2-3 and have won 14 of their last 16 games with their only losses coming outside Southwest Georgia in a holiday tournament.
Monroe will probably have a chance to avenge Friday’s loss to Dougherty in the upcoming Region 1-AAAA tournament, which will be held in Monroe’s gym, where it will be standing-room-only and pandemonium in the finals. The Monroe boys won the home court last week by improving to 19-2 and a perfect 12-0 to clinch the top seed and home court in the region. The boys and girls tournaments will be held at Monroe, and that will give a huge edge to the Tornadoes and Lady Tornadoes.
The Tornadoes have three regular season games left and are on the verge of becoming the first to go wire-to-wire as the top team in the Fab 5 Poll since the poll began five years ago.
The rest of the boys poll stayed the same with Westover (15-5), which has lost only to Monroe (three times) and twice to nationally-ranked Tift County, at No. 2. Mitchell County stays at No. 3 but faces a big test Friday against No. 4 Seminole County, which lost to Mitchell 55-54 in OT earlier.
Bainbridge stayed at No. 5 and has a huge Region 1-AAAAA game tonight at home against a Lee County team that is on the rise and beat Bainbridge earlier.
Dougherty’s leap from No. 4 to No. 2, ahead of No. 3 Monroe and No. 4 Pelham, which both slipped one spot in the poll, was the biggest move of the week. Mitchell County’s girls move back into the poll, replacing Calhoun County. But Mitchell, which beat Seminole County easily earlier in the season, must face the Lady Indians again on Friday in Camilla in a big showdown game that will determine the best team in Region 1-A South.
The best team in Region 1-A North is the top-rated public school team in Georgia and The Herald’s top-ranked girls team. That’s Randolph-Clay for anyone who has missed the incredible season the Lady Red Devils have had.
They’re 19-2 and have won 18 of their last 19, including 10 in a row. They have three games left before they host the Region 1-A tournament (yes, just like 1-AAAA, Randolph-Clay will host the boys and girls in its own Joe Williams Gym).