Hoops: Tift Girls Advance

Tifton – Playing in the first round of the GHSA State Basketball playoffs, the Tift County Lady Devils welcomed the Lovejoy Lady Wildcats to the friendly confines of the palace. Love joy, the #4 seed from Region 2-AAAAAA, entered the contest with a 11-13 record, (6-4 in region play). Tift County defeated the Valdosta Lady Wildcats to enter the playoffs at 20-5, and owning the #1 for Region 1-AAAAAA.

Moneisha Goldsborough scores in the 4th Period. The Senior Center finished with 6 points. Photo: Shine Rankin Jr./SGSN

Moneisha Goldsborough scores in the 4th Period. The Senior Center finished with six points and 12 rebounds.. Photo: Shine Rankin Jr./SGSN

Off to a quick start, Tift would build a lead, which they would keep until they got close in the third quarter. On a roll in the opening minutes, Tift enjoyed a 7-0 run until Lovejoy hit a basket with roughly 3 minutes to play in the quarter. Tift would have a 9-3 lead at the end of one, fueled by Audrey McElhaney, Vanity Golson, and Dail Adaway. Adaway hit a key 3-pointer to provide some space.

Lovejoy’s team started to gain some ground in the 2nd, scoring two baskets in the period but unable to stop the Tift offense. The Lady Devils would outscore Lovejoy 8-4 in the frame, and lead 17-7 at the break.

The Lady Cats found their stride, coupled with Tift turnovers and an unkind rim for Tift shooters in the 3rd.  Lovejoy went on a 13-7 run, and trimmed the lead to 4, 24-20 as the final frame began. Unhappy with the turnovers, and willing to force the issue, Conner chose to wait for Lovejoy to come out of their 2-3 zone. Time ticked away, and as the minutes past, McElhaney stood at the top of the key. Lovejoy decided to go man with roughly four minutes to play, and Conner got the matchup she was seeking. McElhaney drove the gap, and as the defense collapsed to her, dished the ball to Goldsborough for a layup to go up 26-22. With 3 and change to play, the teams traded possessions, with Lovejoy digging in. Lovejoy would be forced to foul in the final minute, and couldn’t slow the Tift offense. Time would expire with a Lady Devils 33-29 win.

McElhaney would lead Tift with 11 points, Golson and Goldsborough netted six points apiece. Mary Alex Anders had four points, all in the second frame. For Lovejoy, Carmen Woodard led with seven points.

Tift County improves to 21-5, and will host Archer Friday night at 6PM. Archer defeated Duluth on Tuesday night, 73-40. The Lady Tigers enter with a 24-5 record, and finished 2nd in the Region 8-AAAAAA standings.

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