Hoops: Tift Girls Split, #2 Seed for Region

Tifton- Playing a full weekend as the regular season came to a close, the Tift County Lady Devils defeated Lee County in Leesburg on Friday night but fell to Valdosta at the palace Saturday night. Tift, which entered the weekend at 17-4 and 5-1 in region play, needed either a Lowndes win over Colquitt on Friday or to sweep both games for the championship. 

The game would start strong for the Lady Devils, playing strong defense and scoring early to take a 6-0 lead. But Valdosta would settle down after a well-timed timeout, and a big three-pointer by Asia Harrison brought the Lady Cats to life. Tift would make some huge blocks, with Dail Adaway showing her defensive strength and Freshman center Kaysie Harrelson adding to the mix. The tide would ebb, and the teams would enter the half all knotted up at 15.

Audrey McElhaney Drives the lane against Valdosta. McElhaney finished with 9 points. Photo: Shine Rankin Jr./SGSN

Audrey McElhaney Drives the lane against Valdosta. McElhaney finished with 9 points. Photo: Shine Rankin Jr./SGSN

The 3rd frame would be the tipping point for the Lady Cats. They dialed long distance, hitting for 9 points as they matched their first half score in the quarter.  Harrison again did the heavy lifting, accounting for 6 of the 15, and with teammate Lequesha Newkirk matching her score.Tift was outscored 15-9 and trailed 30-24 as the final frame began.

A sloppy final eight minutes found more steals and turnovers than points, as Valdosta netted 7 more for a 37-28 victory. Harrison led all scorers with 12, Newkirk would finish with 9, and Deena Taylor would add 7 for the Lady Cats. For the Lady Devils, Goldsborough finished with a team high 11 points, but was riddled with foul trouble in the second half. Audrey McElhaney accounted for 9 more in the losing effort.

Tift falls to 18-5 and 6-2 in region play. Valdosta improved to 18-7 and tied with Tift at 6-2. Region1-AAAAAA uses head to head as the first tie breaker, and the two teams split. The second tie breaker is the #3 team in the region, in this case Colquitt. Tift split with Colquitt, and the Lady Cats swept them. That makes Valdosta the #1 seed for the tournament and the regular season champions. Tift will face the Lady Packers again, on Thursday afternoon. Tip-off is expected at 4:00PM. Valdosta will face the winner of the Lowndes/Lee play-in game on Tuesday. That contest is expected to start on Thursday evening at 7:00PM. Lowndes beat Lee in both regular season contests, averaging 13.5 as margin of victory. All contests will be be held in the Gladys Espy gym at Colquitt County High School.


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