Fans of Lakeside High School's girls basketball might not have been sure how to celebrate on Wednesday.
The Panthers clinched the school's first basketball state playoff berth by beating Josey 52-40 during the Region 3-AAAA tournament at Richmond Academy. The "wooos" shouted from Lakeside faithful grew louder and longer as the teams shook hands at midcourt.
"It's exciting," Lakeside junior Carolyn Hennecken said.
Hennecken led all scorers with 21 points. She and fellow guard Tishal Turknett led Lakeside as they had all season. But it was the role players who spurred a Panthers' comeback when the game appeared headed out of reach.
Lakeside sophomore Cassie Bryant converted back-to-back baskets after the Eagles had gone ahead by 11 during the second half. Kiesha Grant added a pair of baskets during the run, and freshman Bria Baker also chipped in.
Lakeside coach Maureen McCormack said her team was rushed early, and played into the Eagles' full-court pressure. After Lakeside secured the lead early in the fourth quarter, she called two timeouts within a minute to stress that the Panthers play within their offense.
"I just wanted to remind them that you've got to play every possession like it matters," McCormack said.
Earlier in the tournament, the Evans girls surprised Richmond Academy to advance.
The Knights fell short in their bid to move further, falling to Butler, 71-24, as the Bulldogs clinched their third consecutive state playoff appearance.
Butler scored 10 of the first 12 points and allowed only four first-quarter points. Shameka Carter's layup midway through the second quarter gave the Bulldogs their first lead of at least 20 points. They beat Evans for the third time this season by at least 20 points. Liz Grissom led all scorers with 23 points, and neither team made a 3-pointer.
No. 10 Evans upset seventh-seeded Richmond Academy a night earlier, the Knights' only win over an opponent other than Harlem this season.
"They gave it a good shot (Tuesday), and I think that took a lot out of them," said Evans coach Timothy Whitfield, whose team was playing its third game in four days after advancing to the quarterfinals from the play-in game.
"But don't take anything away from Butler. ... We just didn't do the things we did the other night."
The Grovetown girls' inaugural season ended with a 51-32 loss to Glenn Hills.
Jessica Morton scored 21 points for Glenn Hills. The Spartans avoided an upset to clinch a state tournament berth.
"Anyone in Augusta can beat anyone else on a given night," coach Bernard Bowman said. "So, of course, we were worried about them."
Of the three teams that finished tied for first in the region, the third-seeded Spartans got the worse seed by virtue of a three-way coin toss. It did not matter.
Glenn Hills led by 15 at halftime and had doubled Grovetown's score by the end of the third period. Glenn Hills led by at least 11 points the entire second half.
Six-seeded Grovetown concluded its inaugural season 10-16. The Warriors played the entire year without junior Georgia Tech recruit Ebony Wells (torn ACL).
"The future is bright here," Echols said.
Marianne Davignon scored 13 points to lead Grovetown.
Harlem's boys bowed out by dropping the play-in game, 69-47, to Cross Creek. The Bulldogs, who surrendered their final regular season game with Richmond Academy because of the snow, finished the season 0-25.
Coach Kim Chambers said he thought his team had a shot against the Razorbacks, but the Bulldogs were without standout Darius Johnson, who was out of town for winter break.
Augusta Chronicle staff writer Matt Middleton contributed to this story.
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