Having defeated Harlem in the teams’ first meeting Nov. 22 and with the Christmas break upon them, Grovetown High School girls basketball head coach Jaime Echols hoped his team would be focused.
He had little to worry about Friday night as his Lady Warriors led from the outset, winning 60-18.
“I thought we played to our standard so I was proud of where we were mentally tonight,” said Echols.
The Lady Warriors (8-3) led from the start, but the game was still relatively close at the end of the first quarter as their lead was just 13-4. They really went to work in the second quarter.
In just under three minutes, the Lady Warriors went on a 10-1 run, paced by Maggie Haney, who scored eight of her game-high 14 points during that span. The Lady Bulldogs built their lead to 32-7 by the break.
Alayah Canteen added 12 points and Leah Ferguson had 10.
Starting in January, the Lady Warriors begin Region 2A-AAAAA play. Echols has been preparing his team for region play.
“We’re excited that the region’s going to be super-duper and every night is going to be a challenge, but that’s fun and we like our team and we know the other teams are good so we’ll throw it up and play ball,” Echols said.
Olivia Fitzgerald and Madison Williamson led the Lady Bulldogs (2-9) with four points apiece.
Harlem coach Anthony Sweat took a positive look at his team.
“We’re still young but we’re getting older every game,” said Sweat. “We’ve already eclipsed the win total from last year and that’s a positive. We’re going to work hard as coaches and the girls are going to work hard.”
In the nightcap, the Warriors followed the girls’ example, taking care of Harlem 70-46.
“We played them last time and we were basically in a dogfight the whole night,” said Warriors’ head coach Daniel Jordan of their 49-36 win. “I was hoping we would be in control of the game the whole time so I thought that was good.”
The Warriors (5-6) forced 23 turnovers, got out on the break and converted numerous fast break opportunities. They started the game on a 9-0 run and never looked back, holding the Bulldogs (5-7) to 15 first-half points.
“I thought we played good defense in the first half,” Jordan said.
Solomon Gause and Logan Morris did the most damage taking it to the hoop, finishing with 19 and 16 points, respectively.
Trailing 38-15 at the half, the Bulldogs opened the third quarter on a 7-2 run to cut into the lead. The Warriors responded with three Morris fastbreak layups off steals to build the lead back to 24 points at 46-22.
After sitting on the bench with foul trouble in the first half, the Bulldogs Torien Beard scored his team-high 16 points in the second half while Rayshawn Morris chipped in with 10 points.
Jordan likes where his team is heading into the break.
“It’s our third win in a row so it’s good for us momentum-wise and hopefully confidence-wise, kind of believing in what we’re trying to do,” Jordan said.