The Deerfield-Windsor Lady Knights celebrate their GISA Region 3-AAA Tournament title Saturday night at Darton State College’s Cavalier Arena. (Staff Photo: Tim Morse)
ALBANY — For the second straight year, the Deerfield-Windsor Lady Knights finished the GISA Region 3-AAA Tournament and hoisted the winner’s trophy.
The celebrated following a hard-fought 43-37 victory over Southland Academy.
In a battle that saw both teams leave everything on the floor, it was top-seeded Deerfield who was able to withstand a stout Southland defense to advance.
“I’m really proud of our girls,” said Deerfield-Windsor girls coach Jeff Eubanks. “Southland’s a good squad and we expected to get a great effort from them. They had a good game plan to pressure us and they adapted throughout.”
Both teams came out hungry to start, using pressure defense to throw the other out of rhythm and gain an early edge. Southland managed to handle the pressure better, hitting some tough inside shots while the Lady Knights had difficulty finding the handle, falling behind the Lady Raiders 20-12 by the end of the first period.
In the second period, however, Deerfield was able to battle back behind strong play from sophomore guard Nyla Perry, who finished with 11 first half points. She drove to the basket repeatedly as the Knights rode a 10-4 run to pull within two.
Senior Jordan Lane, who led the Lady Knights in scoring in the semifinals, was shut out for most of the half before hitting two crucial free throws to tie the game at 24 as the first half drew to a close.
The second half saw Southland score first and both teams then traded baskets before a key Perry three-point play gave the Lady Knights their first lead at 32-29.
“I thought Nyla had a great game,” Eubanks said. “She knows how to handle herself and situations. I thought Kelsey King had a great game too. She came up with some great stops and timely scores. She and Nyla both hung on late with four fouls each.”
Deerfield continued its strong play throughout the quarter, as both Perry and Lane continued to control the inside on the way to a 37-33 lead at the end of the period.
Refusing to go quietly, however, the Lady Raiders continued to battle, pulling within two points midway through the final quarter before the Lady Knights pulled away for good.
Perry led all scorers with 16 points, including two 3-pointers. King showed why Deerfield has a bright future, adding 11 points of her own. Lane finished with six points while Teasie Williams was strong off the bench with five points.
“I thought it was a great team effort,” Eubanks said. “I’m just really proud of the girls.”
The Lady Knights won’t get to celebrate for long as they look toward to the first round of the GISA Class AAA state playoffs where they will open against John Milledge at Tatnall Square Academy Wednesday night at 7 p.m.
“We’ve had a look at John Milledge and they’re pretty good,” Eubanks said. “They’ve got good tall guards. Not to look too far ahead but if we get through we’ll have a tough second round game too. If we’re going to make a run, now is the time.”
DEERFIELD-WINDSOR BOYS 62, TIFTAREA 31: After a disappointing loss to Tiftarea Friday night in the region tournament semifinals, the Deerfield boys were able to end the tourney on a hight note thanks to a dominant win over the Brookwood Warriors Saturday night.
The Knights came out strong in the first period scoring first and never looking back. Thanks to stifling pressure defense and strong inside scoring from junior standout Christian Wallace, Deerfield finished the first half up 26-12.
The Knights continued their dominance in the second half, continuing to score inside as well as heating up from long range.
Junior Ryan Toole led the long-range attack, hitting three 3-pointers as part of his 11-point night. Junior Dee Barber also had his touch from deep range, hitting two 3-pointers of his own as part of his 13 points.
Wallace again showed why he’s Deerfield’s top player, putting up 20 points and six rebounds while also getting three blocks and two steals to lead the team.
Senior Chapman Ivey finished with seven points.