WARNER ROBINS -- Diamond Hudson sensed something wasn’t quite right.
The Warner Robins senior shot poorly in the early minutes of the Demonettes’ GHSA Region 1-AAAA contest with rival Houston County. One of her first three 3-point shot attempts even missed everything.
Suddenly, everything clicked. The game officials realized the first two minutes of the game had been played with a larger, heavier boys’ ball. When the lighter ball went into play, Hudson turned her game up a notch, hitting her next five 3-point shots and staking her teammates to a five-point halftime lead.
Hudson finished with 23 points and classmate Kenyona Armstrong added 26 as Warner Robins went on to defeat Houston County 73-53 on Friday at the Bear Den.
“It felt like (the ball) was bigger,” Hudson said. “I shoot with a boys ball sometimes in gym class. When they switched back to the girls ball, it was lighter and I had to get used to that. But I was feeling it after awhile.”
Hudson’s second 3-point shot came in the closing seconds of the first quarter and gave the Demonettes a 17-14 lead. Houston County did not pull level the rest of the night.
Warner Robins (11-4, 2-1 region) pulled away in the second half as Armstrong scored 20 points after the break. The swing guard hit a 3-point shot early in the fourth quarter that gave the Demonettes a 20-point lead at 65-45. From there, Warner Robins spread the court and played keepaway from the Bears (12-3, 0-2).
“I told the girls before the game that our guards had to outplay their guards,” Warner Robins head coach Tom Mobley said. “(Houston county) has the advantage with (6-4 center Justice Wright). We can’t let them outplay us at guard, too.”
In addition to setting an up-tempo pace, Warner Robins guards Aaliyah Jones and Asha Stegall scored six and 10 points, respectively.
When the teams met in the championship game of the Bear Brawl tournament in December, Wright scored 19 points in the Bears’ 70-62 win. That night, Wright benefitted from the play of her teammates away from the basket. On Friday, Warner Robins did a better job of keeping the ball away from Houston County’s post threat.
“Our defense was way better this time,” Hudson said. “We didn’t let them penetrate.”
Houston County guard LeShonda Jones scored 21 points to lead the Lady Bears. Wright scored 11.
“We tried to get into a foot race with them,” Houston County head coach John Roddie said. “And Warner Robins did a great job of getting all the loose balls.”
In the boys game, Warner Robins moved to 3-0 in region play with a 67-39 win over Houston County. The Demons have won five of their past six games.