The Sherwood boys basketball team celebrates late Friday after winning the GISA Region 3-AA championship. (Special to The Herald)
DAWSON — Sherwood coach Bryan Gelfand took over the Eagles basketball program less than a year ago with the goal to win a GISA Region 3-AA title.
He wasn’t around to see his players cut down the nets late Friday after Sherwood beat Valwood, 41-31, to win its first region title since 2010 — but the Eagles made sure to still give credit to their coach, who was suspended for the rest of the season this week for what Sherwood headmaster Glen Schultz called conduct “unbecoming of a coach or a staff member.”
“We cut him a piece of net, and we will share it with him,” said Sherwood assistant coach Vince King, who will direct the team throughout the state playoffs. “I don’t want to discount the work he has put in. There were some things that happened (that led to his suspension) that even I’m not privy to. His goal was to win the region when he started out, and that’s what the kids did. It definitely wasn’t be this weekend. It was them. They stepped up and did what all of the coaching staff expected them to do all season.”
It had been a rollercoaster week for the Eagles, but they ended the ride with a dominating performance against Valwood, clinching a No. 1 seed in next week’s state tournament opening round.
“The guys have had winning region as their first goal all season,” King said. “I think coach Gelfand did an excellent job working with them and getting them prepared for that. I fell like they came together at the right time of the season.”
And even though Terrell Academy hosted the region tournament, King said the Sherwood fans came to Dawson in droves, packing the gym to watch their team make history.
“Just having the support we had I think made the difference in the game,” King said.
It was a balanced night offensively for the Eagles, who were led by TJ Johnson’s 14 points. Larrece Kelley and Chris Thomas added seven and five points, respectively, for Sherwood.
The Eagles led the whole way but pulled away after halftime by holding Valwood to three points in the third quarter. Sherwood will play again Thursday evening at ABAC against the No. 4 seed from Region 4-AA in the opening round of the state tournament. Last year, Sherwood entered the tournament as a No. 4 seed and lost to Gatewood in the opening round.
Westwood, Crisp Academy girls win region titles
DAWSON — The defending GISA Class AA state champion Westwood Lady Wildcats defended their Region 3-AA title on Friday.
The Lady Wildcats defeated host Terrell Academy, 57-34, in the rematch of last year’s region championship game and will head to next week’s state tournament with a No. 1 seed.
“We’re very, very excited to win the region title,” Westwood girls coach Jenni Smith said. “I thought Terrell played us very well and really challenged us. It was just a good win, a lot closer than it looks on paper. I was proud of our girls for making some tough shots down the stretch under a lot of pressure.”
Callie Smith led a balanced Westwood scoring attack with 16 points, while Rachel Harrell added 13 points and Morgan Singleton scored 12 points. Terrell Academy’s Marilauren Farr scored a game-high 22 points for the Lady Eagles, who will be the region’s No. 2 seed in next week’s state tournament.
The only team to beat Westwood this season was Crisp Academy, which won its fourth GISA Region 3-A title in a row with a 51-30 win against Georgia Christian.
It’s been Mercer commit and star senior Madi Mitchell who has carried Crisp on their remarkable four-year run, but on Friday it was a balanced attack that led to the title.
Madi Krause led with 14 points and seven rebounds, while Kara White and Parker Krause scored 13 and 11 points, respectively. The unselfish Mitchell led the team in assists and also added 10 points and 12 rebounds.
SHERWOOD GIRLS 58, VALWOOD 39: Key’yada Thomas scored 27 points and dished out 10 assists to help the Lady Eagles grab a No. 3 seed in next week’s state tournament with a 19-point win in Friday’s Region 3-AA consolation game.
Madison Walker added 12 points for Sherwood, which led 24-23 at halftime and then pulled away in the second half thanks to 18 second-half points from Thomas, who actually played with her shorts on backwards for the first two quarters.
“At halftime she turned her shorts around, and then she turned the game around,” Sherwood coach Lakeshia Elder said.
TAE BOYS 67, SGA 62: In the boys consolation game in GISA Region 3-AA, Terrell Academy’s Raleigh Carlson scored 22 points to lead the Eagles past Southwest Georgia Academy.
Coner Walsh added 13 points for TAE, while McKinnley Chambless scored 18 to lead SGA. Tristan Moulton and K.D. Sizemore scored 16 and 10, respectively for the Warriors.