High School Basketball
Cougars reach state playoff goal, set sights on region finals
by Doug Gorman
EAST POINT—Heading into the 2013-14 basketball season, Newnan’s goal was earning a spot in the Class AAAAAA state tournament.
Now it’s time to set the bar even higher.
Following a week full of delays from weather and school cancellations, the Cougars made Saturday’s opening round Region 3-AAAAAA game worth the wait, clinching a trip to the state tournament with a 58-48 first-round victory over No. 5 seed Langston at Tri-Cities High School.
Newnan head coach Rod Ladd feels there is plenty of work to do starting Monday when the No. 4 seeded Cougars (18-7) take on top-seed and No. 1 state-ranked Westlake in the Region 3-AAAAAA semifinals.
“Everybody wants to get to state, but I am not going to lie, we want to win region,” Ladd said. “We feel like if we are playing well, we can beat anybody.”
Westlake (24-2) defeated Newnan during both meetings during the regular season. They included a slim two-point victory on Jan. 17 and a more lopsided 10-point decision more recently on Feb. 8 to close the regular season.
Newnan had to work a bit for Saturday’s win over Langston Hughes while avenging a loss to the Panthers in the teams’ most recent meeting.
After 19 lead changes in the first half, Newnan trailed 26-25 at the break.
Langston Hughes had a chance to put the game away in the third quarter when it took its biggest lead of the game just minutes at the start of the second half when Montavious Atkinson hit a 3-pointer to pull the Panthers out front 31-27.
However, after his trey the Panthers went into an offensive slump as Newnan kicked started its offense into a 13-5 run to push the lead to 44-32 heading into the final quarter.
Diamond Jones and Isaiah Houston each hit 3-point shots for Newnan during the third-quarter spurt.
Houston’s trey gave the Cougars their first double-digit lead of the game at 42-32.
The Panthers made one last run in the final quarter hitting three 3-point shots, including two from Khalil Coffee. His second trey of the period cut the Cougars’ lead to 54-49.
Jones had Newnan’s lone field-goal in the fourth quarter, but the Cougars hit 12 of 13 free throws over the last eight minutes to pull away.
“Free throws are always big,” Ladd said. “We did a good job of hitting them tonight.”
Newnan’s offense was paced inside by Immanuel Griggs, who scored 17 points and Doniel Dean who scored 16.
Atkinson led Langston Hughes with 11 points.
DOUGLAS COUNTY 89, EAST COWETA 39: The No. 6 seeded Indians ended their season at 3-21 following its third loss against a state-ranked Tigers lineup.
East Coweta trailed 17-6 at the end of the first quarter and 45-17 at the break.
The Tigers put the game away in the third quarter, outscoring the Indians 28-15.
Douglas County (18-5) hit six 3-pointers just in the third to jump further ahead 73-32 heading into the final quarter.
With the win, Douglas County, which entered the tournament as the No. 3 seed, secured a bid to the state tournament and will now play No. 2 Tri-Cities Monday in the 3-AAAAAA semifinals.
Zhakeer Jervey led East Coweta with 10. Brandon Robinson had a game-high 14 points for the Tigers.