Darton’s Shanae Armbrister splits a pair of Georgia Perimeter defenders Saturday afternoon in the Lady Cavs’ 50-point victory. Armbrister finished with a game-high 19 points and 14 rebounds. (Staff Photo: John Millikan)
ALBANY — Two years ago as a senior at Lee County, DaQueena Moore was a member of The Herald’s Super 6 team, standing out as one of the best post players in all of Southwest Georgia.
Now she’s part of a brand new Super 6 at Darton State College.
Moore, who comes off the bench but sees as much playing time as a starter, and each member of Darton’s starting five scored in double figures on Saturday to lead the Lady Cavs to a 91-41 win against Region XVII rival Georgia Perimeter.
It was a six-player attack that Georgia Perimeter had no answer for.
Shanae Armbrister (19 points), Moore (17), Jasmine Wilson (13), Iesha Bonner (10), Kadayasha Jones (10) and Cedricka Sweeting (10) combined to score 79 points, helping the Lady Cavs bounce back from an overtime loss to Georgia Highlands and hold on to the fourth spot in the Region XVII standings.
“It’s rare that a junior college team can have six really good players,” Darton coach Lea Henry said. “I look at them and ask myself, ‘Why have we lost some of these games?’ … Those six have really proven themselves.”
They proved to be unbeatable on Saturday, running up a double-digit lead in the first five minutes of the game never leading by fewer than 20 points after halftime. And even once the Super 6 stepped off the floor with five minutes left in the game, Darton’s bench outscored Georgia Perimeter’s starters 9-2.
That depth is why Armbrister shied away from any “Super 6” moniker after the victory. To her — and the Lady Cavs’ other five stars — Saturday was all about an 11-player roster that seems to be peaking as the team heads into the final stretch of the season.
“We play like a family,” she said. “We have talent on this team. It doesn’t matter who is in there. Everybody is capable of scoring. We keep it as a team.”
At 14-6 overall and 6-4 in Region XVII play, the Lady Cavs are 3 ½ games behind region leader South Georgia Tech, which is unbeaten and ranked in the Top 25 in the nation. While Henry acknowledged it will be difficult, if not impossible, to catch SGTC in the remaining nine games of the regular season, she knows how important it is to gain momentum in the weeks leading up to the region tournament.
“We can’t control what anybody else does right now, and we can’t cry over what we didn’t do,” Henry said. “What we have accepted is that South Georgia Tech is going to be hard to beat in the regular season, so the odds are in their favor to win the regular season. But the tournament is a whole new season, and we want to be prepared once we get into the tournament to be our best, whatever that is.”
If Darton’s best looks anything like Saturday’s game, then the Lady Cavs will be a tough team to knock out of next month’s region tournament.
They outrebounded Georgia Perimeter 56-33, dished out 22 assists, shot 15-for-18 from the free throw line and pulled down 24 offensive rebounds. Along with her game-high 19 points, Armbrister grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds, while Moore finished with 11 rebounds and shot 5-of-8 from the field and 7-for-9 from the line.
Armbrister said Saturday’s win and last weekend’s loss to region power Georgia Highlands were the best the Lady Cavs have played this season.
“We haven’t reached our potential yet, so we are trying to play every game like it’s our last,” Armbrister said. “We have to be more confident and be more aggressive. The tempo really matters. We see how good we can be when everybody pushes. We see where we can be.”
The Lady Cavs jumped ahead 6-0 with buckets from Bonner and Jones and prevented Perimeter from getting on the scoreboard until 16:32 left in the first half.
Moore and Armbrister then combined to score Darton’s next 11 points to give the Lady Cavs an early double-digit lead against a Perimeter team that lost by just 17 points to Darton back on Nov. 16.
Perimeter (6-11, 3-6) cut Darton’s lead to 11 points with 8:38 left in the first half, but the Lady Cavs ended the half on a 21-11 run to take a 21-point lead into halftime. Perimeter didn’t make a field goal in the second half for the first 6:30 and got outscored 43-14 in the final 20 minutes, when Sweeting and Wilson combined to score 21 of their 23 points.
The Lady Cavs shot 44 percent from the floor and 40 percent from long range in the second half, but even more impressive was their defense, which held Perimeter to 15 percent from the field after halftime.
“Scoring isn’t our problem,” Henry said. “We have six players who are averaging right around double figures with Jasmine and Shanae right there around 20 each. We have to play better defense and rebound better. Our roles are more defined. Our chemistry is better. Now we need to recommit to defense.
“Our focus this past week was effort, energy and defending well, and I think our team really committed to that. I seemed like we had more energy on the floor (Saturday). I’m hoping this is the start of a great last third of the season.”
Darton is back at home Wednesday against Atlanta Metro before traveling to Macon on Jan. 25 for a game against Central Georgia Tech, which is just one game ahead of the Lady Cavs in the region standings.