Standing in the long hallway that houses all of the locker rooms at the Macon Coliseum, Lovett’s Tatianna Jackson was freely sharing high-fives Thursday night.
Many of them were shared with players from Buford, players who she teams up with in summer leagues and goes up against in GHSA Region 6-AA play.
At the time, Buford was an hour-and-a-half away from taking part in its own Class AA semifinal. Jackson, meanwhile, was winding down from a strong performance in Lovett’s 56-41 semifinal win over Laney.
“We played them tight and lost, so we want a rematch,” Jackson said after Lovett’s victory, not knowing at the time if Buford or Brooks County would advance to face the Lions in Saturday’s championship game.
Buford defeated Lovett twice this season, including a 45-39 result in the region title game.
The Chattanooga signee had 28 points, providing the finishing touch to several transition opportunities that propelled Lovett into the championship game.
The senior also had 10 rebounds, four steals and two assists.
“She was a ballplayer,” Laney head coach Otis Smart said.
Laney, a team that likes to play an up-tempo game, tried to press a bit against Lovett. But the Lions had little problem breaking the press, easily moving the ball down the floor -- and often finding Jackson to finish things off.
Both of Lovett’s starting guards, Taylor Brown and Te’Erica Eason, had productive games. Brown had 10 points and seven assists, while Eason had eight points and six assists.
Jackson was most effective in the second and third quarters, when she made seven of the eight shots that she attempted -- including a 3-pointer with a minute to go before halftime -- along with all three of her free throws. That allowed Lovett, which led by five points after one quarter and by six at halftime, to open up a double-digit lead in the third quarter when Laney went cold (1-of-16) from the field.
“We love the up and down, and we love to get the points off transition,” Lovett head coach Liz Kennedy said. “We felt like if we kept the game in an up-tempo fashion, then that would be to our advantage. To get her some buckets, some easy layups out front -- well, she makes them look easy -- to get her those quick points down the floor is huge.”