Despite having a lead entering the fourth quarter of Saturday’s GHSA Region 2-AAA girls basketball championship game, Peach County head coach Maxine Cherry saw trouble ahead.
Her players were going toe-to-toe in a physical battle against Kendrick, which had lost just once all season and was coming off a state title from a year ago. More than one Peach County player spent extended time laying on the floor after getting knocked down, and there was plenty of foul trouble to go around.
Yet, despite losing two starters to fouls in the fourth quarter, Peach County did something no other team in the region could do all season: beat Kendrick.
Peach County won 68-57, claiming the region title and a No. 1 seed in Tuesday’s opening round of the Class AAA playoffs.
“We persevered. We had to,” Cherry said. “That’s all we could do. We had a plan, and we stuck to it. We just had to keep our composure and stay focused.”
Nausia Woolfolk, the region’s player of the year, scored 26 points -- 13 in the final quarter -- to pace Peach County (22-3). Eboni Steele had 17 points off the bench, all scored in the second and third quarters as the Trojans established a lead that more or less remained in the high single digits.
Peach County took a seven-point lead into the final quarter, when foul trouble became noticeable. Post player Deja Holland fouled out early in the fourth, and Kendrick had its deficit down to a single point by the 5:32 mark.
The Trojans, however, had an emphatic answer to Kenrick’s rally. They went on a 7-0 run to re-establish their lead, with LaShondria Mallard scoring the only two baskets she had all night before fouling out at the 2:22 mark.
Woolfolk’s 3-pointer with 3:02 to go put Peach County up 11, and the Trojans were able to spread the court late to drain the clock.
“Great win,” Cherry said. “Now it’s time to go forward into the state tournament.”
Melia Jones led Kendrick (25-2) with 12 points.
RUTLAND 86, CENTRAL 76
All five Rutland starters scored in double figures as the Hurricanes added the region tournament championship to their regular-season title.
A 29-point third quarter made the difference for Rutland, as it opened up a double-digit lead after leading 31-24 at the half.
Ty’lik Evans, the Region 2-AAA player of the year, led Rutland with 25 points. Timori Northcutt scored 19, and Jeremy Braswell added 17.
Antarius McCoy had 27 points for Rutland.