Published Wednesday, January 23, 2013
By CHRIS GOLTERMANN
Paula Jones has seen enough basketball teams in the last 20 years of coaching to know this year’s East Coweta girls lineup has its share of flaws.
None that she’s willing to use as an excuse, however.
Some of the Lady Indians’ possessions in Tuesday’s Region 3-AAAAAA game at home against Douglas County were a reminder of a program that produced several deep playoff runs under Jones through her 500-plus victories.
Battling back to within eight points in the opening minutes of the third quarter at John Thrower Gym, her girls were hanging in with a veteran Lady Tigers team with a majority of holdovers from a 26-3 lineup in 2011-12 — enough that longtime head coach Chet Forsh’s voice could be heard throughout the building by the end of third quarter.
Forsh’s team quickly got the message.
Douglas County’s girls — coming off last Friday’s region loss at home to Langston Hughes — finished with much the same flourish that it started Tuesday in a 63-32 victory that didn’t look quite as lopsided until the final period, as the Lady Tigers (13-3, 4-1 in 3-AAAAAA) outscored East Coweta 26-7 after the Lady Indians went on a 6-point run late in the third period to stay within 12.
“I’m not going to use the excuse of youth and inexperience. Not anymore at least. It’s too late in the season for that,” said Jones, whose team was coming off a loss to a Center Point, Ala. team with three future Division I players in Saturday’s Girls Night Out Showcase at Starr’s Mill. “They’re a good group of girls. Our biggest thing now is trying to play our best come tournament time.”
(To view photos from this game, please visit http://photos.times-herald.com/mycapture/ and click on Sports for the Photo Gallery.)
Trailing 16-6 after one quarter and looking lost offensively, East Coweta (3-14, 2-3) finally seemed to clamp down defensively on the Lady Tigers in the second after allowing sophomore Alex Brown to score five of her seven points in the opening eight minutes of play.
Douglas County connected on four of its six 3-pointers before halftime including one to take the lead for good at the game’s opening. But the Lady Tigers’ struggled from the line before the break on 6 of 16 shooting to keep East Coweta within range.
Lady Indians forwards Ciarra Davison and Lexi Zelczak combined for six points and junior Kiandrea Hall connected for a 3-pointer to keep East Coweta within a 26-16 deficit at halftime.
Hall finished with seven points before fouling out in the final period among nine players that scored points. Five finished with four apiece including both Davison and Zelczak.
Zelczak’s jumper to open the third pushed an eight-point game before a combination of Douglas County’s press and penetration on offense took its toll. Guard Amadi Brooks sliced inside for nine of the Lady Tigers’ 24 points in the third including back-to-back baskets through ECHS’ press to force a Lady Indians timeout.
Coming out of the break, East Coweta guard Shemiah Sanchez helped produce a 6-0 run on a pair of assists to teammates Brandi Sinkfield and Bre Tiggs before taking a pass from freshman point guard Ayanna Reid to close within a 37-25 deficit.
But Douglas County took control from there.
Seven unanswered points wiped away the run by early in the fourth quarter and back-to-back baskets by Lady Tigers sophomore Maya Benham pushed a 51-28 lead with under four minutes to play while helping finish a 12-point effort.
Brooks finished with a game-high 15 points for Douglas County.