Americus-Sumter’s Ja’Kala Stevenson passes with Dougherty’s Takiya Davis defending during Tuesday’s Region 1-AAAA game. Without star player and Herald Super 6er Ra’Keta Shelton, The Herald No. 4 Lady Trojans were upset by the Lady Panthers. (Staff Photo: John Millikan)
ALBANY — Dougherty High School girls basketball coach Charlene Jackson paced the sidelines, stomped her feet, then threw her hands up in the air.
Those expressions usually let you know it’s not a good night for the Lady Trojans.
In a mild upset Tuesday night at Radium Springs Middle School, the Herald No. 4 Lady Trojans dug themselves in a deep first-quarter hole when they went scoreless, rallied to tie and grab a brief lead before faltering down the stretch in a 40-30 loss to Americus-Sumter.
It was an important one for Dougherty, which entered just a game behind Crisp County for second place in the Region 1-AAAA standings. With the loss, the Lady Trojans fell into a tie with Westover for third place.
“We’ve got to do a better job, go back and look at the mistakes we made and get it right in the next game,” said leading scorer Amber Ward, who finished with 22 points.
It was the second region loss in three games for the Lady Trojans. With star player Ra’Keta Shelton watching the game in street clothes from the bench, Dougherty never seemed to get in sync. Jackson said after the game that Shelton missed Tuesday’s night contest due to disciplinary reasons.
The Lady Trojans missed open shots underneath, shot poorly from the free throw line and didn’t handle the ball well, resulting in several easy baskets for Americus-Sumter.
“We got to the basket and didn’t knock down our shots,” said a frustrated Jackson. “We did come back and played well in spurts, but missed a lot of opportunities.”
Dougherty (10-5, 4-3 Region 1-AAAA) went 0-for-11 from the floor in the first quarter while Jaslyn Streeter sparked the Lady Panthers to a 10-0 first quarter lead.
It wasn’t until Amber Ward connected on one of her two free throws at the 7:11 mark of the second quarter that Dougherty scored its first point.
After Americus-Sumter went ahead 15-1 on a basket from Timia Swanson with 5:51 left in the second quarter, Ward helped spark the Lady Trojans on an 11-3 run to end the quarter and pull to within 18-12 at the end of the second quarter.
After halftime, it seemed to be a different Dougherty team. The Lady Trojans held Americus-Sumter to 0-for-7 shooting to open the second half and used a 7-1 run to tie the game on a jump shot from Ward at the 3:14 mark.
Then the Lady Trojans created a turnover and Ward drove the lane and scored on a layup to give Dougherty a brief lead at 21-19 with 2:54 left.
But Americus-Sumter answered, using a basket from Streeter to re-tie the game at 21, then a nice feed from Brianna Burney to A’Braylor Mercer with 1:43 left in the game gave the Lady Panthers the lead for good.
Then Americus-Sumter created seven turnovers in the final quarter and built a lead as high as 12 points behind Jakayla Stevenson. Part of the turnovers came after point guard Takiya Davis fouled out.
“I know our team really looks up to her to handle the ball for us,” Ward said. “We can’t do the same things we did (Tuesday) in our next game.”