Region Champs

Heritage School girls hold off Holy Spirit to cap off unbeaten run in 1-AAA

by Doug Gorman

alt

Photo by Jeffrey Leo

The Heritage School girls basketball team and head coach Derrick Clay (at left) celebrate a Region 1-AAA championship after finishing an unbeaten region schedule. The Lady Hawks held off No. 2 seed Holy Spirit 37-33 in Thursday’s championship game.


The biggest question mark first-year Heritage Lady Hawks basketball coach Derrick Clay had heading into Thursday’s GISA Region 1-AAA championship with Holy Spirit was could his team beat the Lady Cougars for the third time this season.

His fears were put to rest with a heart pounding 37-33 win on a night when the Heritage led most of the way, but almost gave the game away in their own gym.

“We knew it was going to be tough,” Clay said. “It always is the third time you play a team.”

Heritage took a 31-21 lead into the final period, but nearly made it too close for comfort as Holy Spirit held the Lady Hawks to just two field goals and six points over the final eight minutes.

“We really went cold, but we did what we had to do to win the game,” Clay said.

Freshman Kara Groover’s basket early in the final quarter gave the Lady Hawks a 33-24 lead, but Holy Spirit closed out the game with a 9-4 run.

The Lady Cougars’ Selina Kelete cut the lead 34-33 before the Lady Hawks found a way to secure the victory from two players who had been quiet most of the night.

Abbie Farr’s only basket of the night with under a minute to go, lifted the lead back to 36-33.

Holy Spirit then missed a 3-point shot that could have tied the game.

Maggie Crosby then hit a free throw for her third point of the contest in the waning seconds to secure the Lady Hawks’ first region title since 2007 and just the second in the nearly 40-year history of the school.

Groover had the hot hand throughout the game for the Lady Hawks, finishing with 22 points.

The point guard scored the Lady Hawks first 11 points as the team led 9-6 at the end of the first quarter and pushed it to 20-13 at the break.

“We are like one big family,” she said. “We all play together, and that makes a difference.”

Groover hit two three-pointers in the contest, including one to open the third period to give Heritage a 27-18 lead.

“She is only a freshman, but she is our general out there, Clay said. She wants the ball.”

Lillie Smith was the second leading scorer for Heritage with four points.

The Lady Hawks have worn down teams with tough defense and it happened in the title game as they pulled down 31 rebounds, including 18 on the Lady Cougars end of the floor.

Senior Ansley Dieckmann led the Lady Hawks with five rebounds.

“This is exciting,” Dieckmann said. “I have been a part of this team for four years and winning a title has been one of our goals all along.”

Kelete made the difference in the fourth quarter for the Lady Cougars scoring eight of her team-leading 11 points in the final stanza.

Clay, who is also the defensive coordinator on the Hawks football team, wants to build a girls basketball tradition at Heritage.

“Winning the region title was our goal coming in,” he said. “This school doesn’t have many, but we want to change that.”

Five players from Heritage earned a spot on the All-Tournament team including Dieckmann, Crosby, Amanda Windom, Smith, and Groover.

The Lady Hawks now head to the GISA Class AAA Tournament in Macon as a No. 1 seed out of Region 1-AAA starting Wednesday against the No. 4 finisher from 2-AAA.

Lady Hawks 37, Lady Cougars 34

Holy Spirit 6 7 8 13—34

Heritage 9 11 11 6—37










More Sports

Local Racing

Morris picks up third Late Models win

Late Model points leader Glenn Morris continued his charge to a second straight championship with this third win of the season at Senoia Rac ... Read More


Strakose returns home to Newnan to begin coaching career

By DOUG GORMAN dgorman@newnan.com Adam Strakose is out to prove you can go home again. The former Newnan High School football All-State li ... Read More


Area Golf Digest

Smith wins Kirby Invitational at NCC

The annual Kirby Invitational at Newnan Country Club may be the oldest such tournament in Georgia. But this year's 36-hole event belonged to ... Read More


College Football/Where Are They Now?

Former prep stars take Mercer into new conference

There's not a lot of rich football history at Mercer University, but there's plenty of enthusiasm as the private school in Macon goes into i ... Read More


Coweta athletes pick up gold, silver at AAU Junior Olympics

DES MOINES - Just two days into this year's AAU Junior Olympics Track & Field Championships, the luggage already plans to be a little he ... Read More

High School Football

Depth in backfield could give Newnan’s offense a push

Aside from financial recourse in terms of facilities and/or salaries, maybe the biggest handicap high school football coaches have com- pare ... Read More