Prep Basketball: East Coweta girls give Jones trip to state tourney
By DOUG GORMAN
East Coweta girls basketball coach Paula Jones will get one last trip to the state tournament.
The Lady Indians made sure of that with a 46-31 victory over rival Newnan in the first round of the Region 3-AAAAAA Tournament in a game played at East Coweta.
“I am excited about getting to go to state one more time,” said Jones who is stepping down as the East Coweta coach after 25 years patrolling the sidelines. “I really didn’t talk to my team about it. We were really just focusing on the game.”
The Lady Indians now turn their attention to top-seed Langston Hughes in Thursday’s semifinal game beginning at 7 p.m. Langston Hughes finished the regular season with a 20-2 record. East Coweta goes into the contest 5-18.
It was a tough year for Newnan. The Lady Cougars ended their season with a 2-22 record. The squads only two wins came against Tri-Cities.
East Coweta entered the game with victories against Newnan in both of the regular season meetings, but had to rally this time.
After trailing 23-22 at the half, East Coweta took over in the third quarter using some stingy defense that limited the Lady Cougars to just two points. The Lady Indians took advantage of the Lady Cougars’ cold second-half shooting display to build a 30-25 lead heading into the final quarter.
East Coweta was paced Ayanna Reid 15 points. Brandi Sinkfield scored 11 points. LaKil Derring finished with 12 points to lead the Lady Cougars.
East Coweta almost pitched the shutout in the third stanza, but Marissa Carter finally broke the long drought for the Lady Cougars with a basket with a little less than 20 seconds to play in the period.
The Lady Indians then broke open the game in the fourth period.
Ciarra Davison and Reid each came up with old-fashion 3-point plays, getting hitting shots in the lane and then converting free throws to pull away from the Lady Cougars.
Free-throw shooting turned a close game into a blowout for the Lady Indians. East Coweta was 10 of 12 in the fourth quarter with Davison hitting all five of her attempts in the final period.
The Lady Indians also stuck to their plan of taking Newnan center Tiara Calloway out of the game. The strategy worked as the Alabama State signee was held to four points in the final game of her high school career.
“We wanted to keep the ball out of her hands, and also try to get her in foul trouble,” Jones said.
Newnan stayed in the game in the first half behind play of Derring who had an explosive first and second quarter.
The Lady Cougar senior hit 3-point shots in the first and second quarter to help Newnan overcome a sloppily played first half.
Her first-quarter trey gave Newnan a 10-8 lead before Brandi Sinkfield added the final basket of the quarter for a 10-all tie.
Newnan enjoyed a three-point lead twice in the second quarter on baskets by Derring. Her last trey of the half gave the Lady Cougars a 21-18 lead before the Lady Indians cut the lead Cougars lead to 23-22 at the half.
SCORING SUMMARY – East Coweta 46, Newnan 31
Newnan 10 13 2 6 — 31
East Coweta 10 12 8 16 — 46
Newnan (2-22) 31 – Chaycie Goggins 8, LaKil Derring 13, Talia Goshey 4, Marissa Carter 2, Sierra Burston 6, Tiara Calloway 4.
East Coweta (5-18) 46 – Shemiah Sanchez 1, Eboni Williams 8, Ciarra Davison 9, Brandi Sinkfield 11, Ayanna Reid 14, Bre Tiggs 3