Lakeside girls basketball coach Moe McCormack said Friday before her team's game at Butler that the Panthers were entering a stretch that would prepare them for the region playoffs.
The Bulldogs got the better of McCormack's team, winning 55-41. The Panthers lost again at Hephzibah on Saturday.
The good news for Lakeside is it will play both teams again. The bad news is the Panthers now have three region losses.
The loss to Butler could be attributed to Bulldogs guard Ashley Watts, who scored a game-high 23 points.
On the offensive end, McCormack thought Lakeside moved the ball well but did not convert open baskets.
"We took the shots we needed to take, we just didn't make them," she said. "We were moving the ball so well when we stayed within our game and concept -- making the diagonal pass inside, things like that."
Tishal Turknett led Lakeside with 17 points. Point guard Carolyn Hennecken, scoreless in the first half, finished with 11.
The star was Watts. The junior guard led Butler to its eighth victory in nine games.
Butler, whose lone region loss was by two points to Glenn Hills, went ahead for good midway through the second quarter with a 10-2 run.
"We're starting to understand what it takes to be that championship-caliber team," coach Keisha Stewart said. "I saw some plays (Friday) where in the past we would have probably given up on, but this time we kept hustling and fighting for those loose balls. That's what's going to take us to the next level."
Part of the reason Stewart feels like this is because Watts is playing more "like a complete point guard."
When Lakeside pulled within nine in the fourth quarter, Watts pulled the ball back at midcourt and forced the Panthers to come out and guard her. She resisted the urge to charge ahead for another basket.
"It's hard, because that's me," said Watts, who averages 18.5 points per game. "I want to hurry up and score a lot of the times."
Watts, who did not commit a foul in the first half, sat out at least half of the final two periods with foul trouble. Three quick whistles parked her on the bench during the third quarter, but Butler's lead continued to swell with the strong offensive play of Shemeka Carter.
"In the past, she would want to get the ball and score, score, score," Stewart said of Watts. "She's learning now how to run the floor and take care what she needs to take care of (rather) than going down there and putting up all these shots."
Said McCormack, "You have to respect her vision, but at the same time take it away. She does such a good job creating passing angles."
The Augusta Chronicle staff writer Matt Middleton contributed to this report.
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