FORSYTH -- Mary Persons never got into much of a torrid offensive rhythm Friday against Griffin, with many of the Bulldogs jump shots bouncing off of the rim. The Bulldogs defense, meanwhile, made sure that the visiting Bears had an even tougher time, shutting them down from the outside as Mary Persons won 62-53 in the first round of the GHSA Class AAAA girls basketball tournament.
Defensively, I thought we played a really good basketball game. I thought we got out on their shooters, so their shooters never got a free look at it, Mary Persons head coach Kurt Greene said.
Mary Persons advances to host Cross Creek, a 62-53 winner over Crisp County, at 6 p.m. on Monday night.
Griffins 6-foot-2 Andayshia Puckett found ways to score against the Bulldogs in the paint, racking up 22 points. But Mary Persons (24-3) shut down Griffin (11-12) other than that with no other Bears player having more than 10 points. Puckett scored 14 of her points in the third quarter and scored no points in a fourth quarter in which she missed the first four minutes due to foul trouble.
I knew she was going to get her points, but that wasnt going to beat us, Greene said. If they made some 3S, that would beat us.
Despite not setting a torrid pace, Mary Persons found more than enough ways to take advantage of creases in the Griffin defensive alignments. Mary Persons did most of its damage via layups and occasional 3-point shots.
Three of those 3-pointers came from Tyesha Davis, who stepped up to score 22 points on a night in which KeKe Calloway poured in a steady 18.
Tyesha struggled Saturday night in the region tournament, but she came up big (Friday), Greene said. We definitely needed that because KeKe struggled a little bit offensively. One thing I was proud of KeKe with was that she started taking the ball to the hole. She had some baskets that almost went in but didnt quite go in. I think that was the biggest difference because they kind of quit playing defense after that.
Davis put the finishing touches on a Mary Persons run early in the fourth quarter that helped the Bulldogs pull away.
Griffin cut the Mary Persons lead to 44-40 to end the third, but a Maya Stewart layup and free throw increased the Bulldogs edge to 49-40. Then, Davis took over. A driving layup, quickly followed by a 3-pointer moved Mary Persons to a 54-42 lead, and a pair of foul shots made the advantage to 56-45 with a little more than four minutes left in the game.
Coach Greene tells us to settle down and trust each other. Thats what we have to do, Davis said. Thats how we win.