GISA HOOPS ROUNDUP: Southland girls advance to Elite 8 for first time in seven years

MACON — It’s already been a banner year at Southland Academy, where the Raiders brought home GISA state championships in cross country and swimming.

It got even more special Wednesday for the Class AAA school from Americus when the Southland girls basketball team defeated Westminter, 35-30, in the opening round of the state playoffs to advance to the Elite 8 for the first time in seven years.

“This school is on Cloud Nine with all of the excitement going on,” Southland girls basketball coach Paula McDonald said. “I am thrilled with the way we are playing right now. Everything seems to be clicking. We are getting good breaks and finding the right combinations and mixing it up. The kids are absolutely thrilled, but coach (Melvin) Kinslow and I are trying to keep them focused on the next game.”

The next game will be Friday at 7 p.m. against Heritage School with the winner advancing to the Final Four.

The No. 2 seed Lady Wildcats trailed No. 3 Westminster at halftime by two points but quickly retook the lead in the third quarter and never looked back.

Ella Hawkins and Mary Melissa Roland led Southland with 11 points apiece, and Hawkins hit 5 of 7 free throws in the fourth quarter to help the Lady Raiders seal the victory.

TERRELL ACADEMY GIRLS 47, PIEDMONT 22: Terrell Academy scored a big first-round victory in the GISA Class AA state tournament at ABAC Wednesday night.

The Lady Eagles took control and never looked back en route to an easy win. They advance to the second round where they’ll play Region 1-AA champion Briarwood on Friday at ABAC.

Marilauren Farr led the way with 16 points, while Tessa Jordan and Alana McCook scored seven points each.

CRISP ACADEMY GIRLS 53, HEIRWAY CHRISTIAN 10: Crisp Academy opened state tournament play by pounding Heirway Christian in the first round of the Class A girls tournament at Georgia Southwestern State College on Wednesday.

Herald Super 6er and Mercer commit Madi Mitchell led the way with 14 points, while Mary Margaret McGarr added 10 for the Lady Wildcats, who advance to meet the winner between Curtis Baptist and David Emanuel on Friday at 5:30 p.m.

Everyone on Crisp Academy’s roster played and all but two scored as the Lady Wildcats make a run at their fourth straight state title.

FLINT RIVER GIRLS 38, SHERWOOD 28: The Lady Eagles were eliminated from the GISA Class AA state tournament in the opening round for the second year in a row, but No. 3 seed Sherwood had an opportunity Wednesday to upset No. 2 Flint River.

The Lady Eagles trailed by just three at halftime but watched Flint River pull ahead in the second half to advance to the Elite 8.

Madison Walker scored 10 points to lead Sherwood, while Key’yada Thomas added nine points. Sherwood head coach Lakeshia Elder loses seven seniors, including starters Katelyn Gilliam, Victoria Davidson, Taylor Walker and Michaela Satchell.