IRWINTON -- Tattnall Square and Stratford take their county rivalry about 30 miles east Saturday with the GHSA Region 7-A girls championship on the line.
The Macon programs earned a third meeting with victories in Friday’s region semifinals at The Palace at Wilkinson County. Top-seeded Tattnall dismantled Wilkinson County 48-20 after Stratford had disposed of GMC 54-38.
“It’ll be huge,” Tattnall head coach Todd Whetsel said of the 7 p.m. meeting with the Eagles. “They have a good team. It’ll be a challenge. It always is.”
Tattnall (25-2) won the regular-season meetings between the rivals.
“They’re No. 1 in the region for a reason,” Stratford head coach Ed Smith said. “They have a lot of talent. We’ll have to play our best to have a chance.”
Wilkinson County was no match for that talent Friday as Tattnall scored the first seven points of the game and rolled from there.
The Warriors didn’t get on the board until only eight seconds were left in the first quarter. They didn’t score again until Regan Davis threw in a shot two steps inside the halfcourt line at the halftime buzzer to cut Tattnall’s lead to 25-5.
“They’re a scrappy bunch,” Whetsel said of Wilkinson County, which trailed 7-2 after a quarter. “I thought we had a solid defensive effort. We settled down in the second quarter on offense. At that point, it was just a case of not letting them back in it.”
Kendra Green topped Tattnall with 17 points while Haley Gordon had 11, including three 3-pointers.
In the first game, Taylor Reese scored all eight of her points in the fourth quarter to help the Eagles (20-5) pull away. Behind Reese and some good foul shooting in the stretch, Stratford outscored the Lady Bulldogs (15-11) 20-9 in the final quarter.
“We got the ball inside for some good chances for Taylor, and she scored or got to the line,” Smith said. “We were fortunate because I think their guards got a little tired and didn’t make the shots they’d made earlier.”
GMC stayed in the game with the help of 3-pointers. The Lady Bulldogs led 12-11 after a quarter and trailed 24-18 at the half. It was 34-29 entering the final quarter before Stratford ran away.
“They have three really good guards who can shoot,” Smith said. “They had six 3s there (early). We knew they’d come out with a lot of emotion and shoot it well.”
Karlie Harding had six of GMC’s triples on the way to 19 points.
Stratford also made good use of the 3-pointer. Sarah Farriba had a trio among her team-high 12 points, while a 3-pointer from Carey Woodcock and a 3-point play from Taylor proved key for the Eagles in the final quarter.
GMC trailed only 40-34 with 5:30 left before Woodcock connected from behind the arc to make it with 4:11 left.
“Carey hit a big 3 there when it was still where if they hit one, it’s a different game,” Smith said.
Wilkinson County will face Hancock Central for the boys title Saturday night. In the semifinals, Wilkinson County beat Tattnall 78-39, while Hancock Central beat Aquinas 62-54.