The Evans High School Lady Knights ensured their first state basketball tournament appearance since before 1990 was a happy one.
After building a huge first half lead, the Lady Knights held on for the 62-57 win over the Bradwell Institute Lady Tigers Tuesday night in the 2012-2013 Georgia High School Association Class AAAAA Girls State Basketball Tournament opening round.
“It feels really great to be part of history, actually,” said senior guard Allysha McFarland, who hit 10 of 12 free throws and scored 12 of her 17 points in the fourth quarter. “The girls in the future can look up to us and want to be like us and even do better than us. It feels really great.”
It was a total team effort that led to the Lady Knights (19-8) advancing to the tournament’s second round at Hardaway Friday night. From Ellysa Melton and Taylor McChesney making big blocks and grabbing tough rebounds to players setting screens for Jasmine Stone to get free and knock down shots, which she did with regularity in the second quarter.
Stone made layups, free throws and 3-pointers as she scored 15 of her game-high 25 points in the stanza while the Lady Knights led by as much as 36-18.
The Lady Tigers (15-13) refused to go away, however, but the Lady Knights had an answer each time they got close.
Melton (10 points) blocked an almost-sure layup with 3:19 to play that would have cut the Lady Knights’ lead to one, then McFarland hit free throws to stretch the lead back to five. The Lady Knights hit free throws down the stretch to secure the win.
After making all three free-throw attempts in the first half, the Lady Knights converted 21 of 28 chances in the second half.
Jakaria Fleming led the Lady Tigers with 16 points, Kelissa Hardgrove had 13 and Shaquoia Crockett and Akeyla Richardson each had 12.
Coach Ryan Morningstar didn’t care what the margin of victory was, just that there was one.
“A win’s a win at this point and our name is moving on in the brackets and these girls deserve it for everything they’ve done,” said Morningstar. “A lot of people have said you’ve had a good season, I said no, we’re still playing.”
The Augusta Christian boys also won their first game in the South Carolina Independent School Association Class AAA Boys Tournament, beating Orangeburg Prep 63-57. The Lions improved to 20-5 with the win and were set to face Hammond Friday night in the state’s Final Four.
“I knew it would be a tough game, but I feel good about where we are,” said Lions coach Marty Griffin.
The Lions’ Jacob Greenway led the way with 13 points while Calvin Taylor added 10.
In the first round of the GHSA Class AAAAA Boys State Basketball Tournament, the Evans boys’ season ended as they lost to Jenkins, 71-61.
“It was a great season, I’ll take 23-6 any day.” said coach Kevin Kenny. “We were first in the sub-region and we made the state playoffs. One game is not going to break our season.”
Damian Foreman led the Knights with 17 points while Patrick Lawrence chipped in with 13.
The Harlem Bulldogs faced a tall task in the GHSA Class AA boys state tournament Friday night against a 26-1 Vidalia team. The Bulldogs got down early and couldn’t come back, losing 84-63.
“We were a quality opponent for them,” said Bulldogs head coach Kim Chambers, whose team finished 15-15. “At times we looked really good.”
While attempting a season-low seven free-throw attempts, the Bulldogs’ Reggie Reid led all scorers with 26 points while Dylan Farmer added 11.