Prep Basketball: Strong start not enough for East Coweta girls
By CHRIS GOLTERMANN
If East Coweta's girls play the first quarter of next week's first-round Class AAAAAA state tournament game with the same fortitude as it did Thursday against a state-ranked Langston Hughes team, the Lady Indians can toss their 5-19 record aside.
The key this season, however, has been putting four of those quarters together on the same night.
The loss puts the No. 4-seeded Lady Indians in Saturday's 4 p.m. consolation game for third place in 3-AAAAAA against No. 3 seed Westlake. Langston Hughes advances to play second-seeded Douglas County at 7 p.m. in the girls championship.
East Coweta managed just 12 field goals but hung around through the majority of three quarters on a night where it attempted 29 free throws against the No. 1 seeded Lady Panthers, who improved to 21-2 while remaining unbeaten against 3-AAAAAA competition this season.
(To view photos from this game, please visit http://photos.times-herald.com/mycapture and click on Sports for the Photo Gallery.)
Despite leading for all but the opening two-plus minutes, it took four 3-pointers from senior guard Tia Jones in the first half, including a pair late in the second quarter to finally open some breathing room in a 15-14 lead for Langston Hughes.
The Lady Indians opened the period with six unanswered points to carry some of the team's early momentum led by freshman guard Eboni Williams. A basket from center Bre Tiggs and a long jumper from senior Jasmine Williams, who finally is getting back to health following a midseason knee injury, pulled East Coweta to within one after connecting on an ensuing free throw.
Brandi Sinkfield's offensive putback kept the team within range down 20-16 only to see Jones sink her third trey of the first half. East Coweta senior Ciarra Davison later sank consecutive free throws to keep within seven only to see Jones again found herself open on the ensuing transition to make it 30-18 and eventually 34-21 at the half.
It was as close as East Coweta got the rest of the way despite benefiting from tireless whistles most of the night. Both teams combined for 16 fouls in the third and 25 points in a sluggish third quarter. Clamping down defensively, Langston Hughes built its lead to 48-32 heading into the fourth quarter.
Seniors Brianca Caldwell and Kayla McCray led the second half charge in the middle of the floor for the Lady Panthers, finishing with 17 and 7 points, respectively, most of which came in the final two quarters.
Sinkfield led the Lady Indians with seven points in balanced scoring that included six from Tiggs and five each from freshman Ayanna Reid, Davison and Jasmine Williams. Eboni Williams added four, all of which came in the first quarter.